Saturday, March 21, 2009

What One Person Can Do

On Tuesday morning I checked my agency's forum and learned that Haregewoin Teferra died. This name will mean nothing to most of you that will read this post. Mrs. Teferra was the embodiment of the idea that one person can indeed change the world. She dedicated the last decade of her life to the children of Ethiopia. When I read the news, I was so overwhelmed I didn't react. I quickly moved away from the computer and began cleaning. It was Spring Break, my children were sick. It felt like too much to process the loss of a hero. But now I am.

I think this happens often, that we shake our heads, then put something aside because it feels too big to manage. The hunger crisis can feel that way. The AIDS pandemic. It's easy to feel like some problems are so big you can't begin to fathom a solution. Sometimes, many small steps can add up to something large and meaningful.

The following is a letter written by Melissa Fay Green, author of There is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Africa's Children, a book about Mrs. Teferra and her children.

"Dear Friends,
By now you may have learned the shocking news that Mrs. Haregewoin Teferra has died suddenly after a short illness. We don't know what caused her death; she felt sick for a couple of days, went to the doctor, came home without a diagnosis, felt sick again, laid down, and that was the end.
Soon I will post a blog containing beautiful, loving, compassionate messages pouring in in tribute.
Many of you kindly are asking what you could do in her memory.
Let me tell you what I will do, and each of you can follow your hearts.
A few weeks ago, Worldwide Orphans--the New York-based organization that has provided pediatric care to Haregewoin's children for many years--assumed responsibility and custody of her 42 HIV-positive kids. To cover food, healthcare and medicine, education, clothing, and caregivers will cost an estimated $4600/year per child. I plan to do what I can to support these children; they are precious, bright, full of fun and hope. With continued state-of-the-art medical care and excellent nutrition and nurturing, they can have bright futures. They can grow up healthy, go to college, have careers. If you'd like to join me in that campagin,
online contributions can be made at
Checks may be sent to:
511 Valley Street
Maplewood, New Jersey 07040
Other HIV-negative children, many of them babies and toddlers, remain at Atetegeb, Haregewoin's foster home; their caregivers have stayed on; and the Atetegeb board is looking to their well-being. As soon as I know how help can be offered to these little ones, I will post that here.
Haregewoin lived with these children seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for ten years. She is irreplaceable. The youngest children, of course, have no idea what has just happened. Please let us work together to act as foster parents in absentia for them and to provide financial sustenance to the adults on the ground in Addis during this transitional time.
Thank you in advance for any amount you can give.
Melissa "

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