Next month, I will be speaking in a fundraising entitled “Open Hearts, Big Dreams” to help build a school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The fundraising will help build a school in my neighborhood “Mercato” for needy children.  For a person who visited Ethiopia or raised in Ethiopia, Mercato is very familiar place. It is one of the biggest open markets in Africa and anything under God’s sun is for sale. This might seem an exaggeration but it is true. In Mercato. food of any kind , jewelery, liquor, coffee, cloth, building material, auto parts, spices, and so on are for sale. In night-time, Mercato is also a place of drinking, party, prostitution and crime. Think of a mixture of Ghetto, French corner, and China town all in one place. Mercato is also a hope for a lot of families in Addis. If you are hard-working and honest mercato will give you something to take home to your children. It is a place of hustle. With its unforgettable aroma and loud noise Mercato leave a lasting memory in everyone that visited. As the same time kids in Mercato have such a tough life. Lack of school, library, parents, safe playing area and safe environment, made life unbearable for most. without a proper school and school materials, children in Mercato will be exposed to child labor, prostitution, and begging. If there is a place in the world that needs immediate help for its children, Mercato will without doubt be in top 10.

That is why I am excited and happy to participate in the fundraising for the upcoming event. It is right, personal and appropriate.

It is appropriate because eduction is the light. It is not a fundraising that helps to buy pencil or temporary help, it focuses on education, the only light out of the darkness of Mercato. This is about teaching kids so that they can go back to their neighborhood and help educate their fellow brothers and sisters. It is about shining the light of hope and it is about exposing the beautiful faces in the bottomless pit of Mercato.

Here is the painting I finished that will be auctioned in the fundraising. Half of the proceed will go the cause. This painting is called “Berhan” and it means light. Hope you join us and help children in Mercato.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!