Kiflu, William and Ezra have much in common. Not only did they all grow up in Children's Villages, their experiences of life with SOS Children inspired each of them to work towards lasting, sustainable change for developing communities worldwide.
“We did not want to wait to do things we were passionate about”
Their project began life when Kiflu and William, who were studying in the US, began sharing ideas on sustainable development with Ezra, who at the time was heading our International School in Tema.
“We firmly believed that we did not want to wait until we were in the working world before doing things we are passionate about,” says William.
The three believed that by combining the cooperative model and environmentally friendly techniques, people can bring about prosperity and economic development in their communities. Their project soon progressed beyond ideas, beginning with an irrigation project which aimed to reduce dependence on seasonal rainfall in Datu Wereda, Ethiopia.
“The challenges were profound”
“We had to put in long shifts, be persistent, seek help and gain support. And the challenges were profound - we were working in an area where poverty is deep-rooted,” says Ezra.
The project was a success. Irrigation means that water shortages are less frequent. Today, the cooperative continues to thrive and grow, and seasonal crops earn more money for local farmers - all year round. Out of this, the project evolved into its current form as Aynah.
A series of other projects followed, and soon Aynah had gone far beyond the scope of a typical student initiative. William represented the project at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, and as its success grew Aynah also received a funding award from the prestigious Hawkinson Foundation in Minneapolis.
Success begins with SOS Children
For William, growing up with SOS Children enabled him to pursue such ambitious and far-reaching dreams. Ezra, too, puts his success down to the constant support of his SOS mother Simegnish. Looking back on Aynah’s success so far, he says, “I think there were four important things that kept us together: really knowing what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go, shared values, trust and critical minds.”
Today, Aynah remains in the capable hands of a new generation of students, as Kiflu, William and Ezra move on to the next stage in their careers. Undoubtedly, these inspirational young people will continue to bring about great change as they go their separate ways. For all of them, though, their success begins in one place: SOS Children.
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