Hannah Godefa is the Youth and Goodwill Ambassador of Ethiopia and young humanitarian.
When I was younger, my parents decided it would be a good idea for me to experience their Ethiopian culture so they took me on a trip to Ethiopia. Even at a young age, I loved Ethiopia. One of my favorite experiences was the young girl my age that lived in my grandmother’s home. We became friends, and she was part of the reason that I admired Ethiopia. It was hard to leave, but I wanted to keep in touch. I thought it would be a good idea if we could write back and forth, like pen pals. My father explained that because she didn’t have pencils or school supplies, it wouldn’t be possible. I was upset and couldn’t understand why I had so many unused pencils lying around and my friend didn’t have any, so I decided to take a stand against it and do something.
Over the next couple of years, my goal was to collect 20,000 pencils. At first, no one believed that a child my age could accomplish such things.But as I started to write letters to companies, schools, mayors, the doubt and disbelief started to wash away. I got an overwhelming amount of responses, and began to be taken more seriously. I received hundreds, and then thousands of donations. I spoke at churches, forums, events, to the media, local and national. The project came together, and I exceeded my goal to 25,000 pencils.
I was able to send all of the pencils to Ethiopia and deliver them personally to all of the schools. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The gratefulness among the children made me feel so proud, just to know that I had been a part of something as beautiful as it. I can’t seem to put into words the joy of giving. It’s a matter of overflowing love shared by everyone- including you. While in Ethiopia, I was helped and by many of the media, such as ETV, Voice Of America, and I spoke at the Parliament for a 10 minutes about my project. I couldn’t forget the feeling of giving back to children in need. I was so filled with love and overwhelming feeling that I knew I had to do more. I knew I had to collect more pencils.
Back in Canada, I got straight to work. I called more businesses, CEO’s, humanitarian workers, and started to build a network. I raised money through local parishes and churches, and was asked to speak at many places. My project has taken me to so many wonderful people with the same dream and the same vision, and it has truly been beneficial for me and countless others. At the end of the collecting, we had raised 400,000 pencils and some funding money. Sponsored by Ethiopian Airlines, I was able to travel to Ethiopia in 2011 and deliver them. The important message of the value of education and literacy was heard throughout the country.
This was my first project. I am now currently involved in many different projects, and to this day continue to make it a goal of mine to work towards social change. I believe that we are called to help others in need, no matter the cause. I’m more interested in that anyone who visits this page today understands that they too can make a difference within their world, for any cause. It just so happens that I was faced with injustice and decided to treat it with love. Anyone can get involved, no matter what age. It’s possible. If you are interested in supporting the cause of literacy visit the “Get Involved” page. Give other children around the world the chance that has been given to you. I promise you they will not let you down. Children are imaginative, intelligent and valuable. They are our future, and they truly can change the world today. If you have more questions or comments, or are interested in more information visit the “Contact Us” page.
Together we can be the leaders of today not tomorrow, and make a difference in our world.