MAS Intern Speaks on Experiences with HIV Orphans in Ethiopia

My name is Eden and I’m a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I am interning at the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences this summer and I’m very excited for the experience ahead of me! When I heard about the job opening, I wasted no time before applying. During my freshman year, I had volunteered with MAS for a science outreach program at a Springfield kindergarten, so I already had a good idea of what MAS was all about. Though it was certainly one of my favorites, that experience with MAS wasn’t my first time working with and educating young children. I had volunteered in elementary schools in Milton, MA throughout my high school years and, for three summers since 2006, at an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The orphanage is known as the Mother Teresa home for HIV positive children. It is in a neighborhood called Asco in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Working there has had a huge impact on the way I look at the world and how I plan to make this world a better place. This orphanage is one of hundreds established by the Mother Teresa foundation and it runs solely off of donations. At this orphanage I encountered a set of one or two highly skilled physicians saving the lives of hundreds of children at a time using some of the most primitive medical devices. Teachers were able to be patient while educating the 400 children who called that compound home. My time spent there really showed me how strategic planning and hard work could change the world.

My interest in health science dates back to when I was a small child, visiting relatives in Ethiopia and noticing the huge disparities between their lifestyles and my own. As an American-born child from Boston, Massachusetts, it was astounding to see so many children in the streets, begging for food or change to buy a small meal, many of them looking unhealthy and ill. Even at a young age I understood the injustice and wanted to do something about it. In fact, I began working at the orphanage when I was 16 in an attempt to begin my mission of giving back to the community that my family and I come from. I did not eliminate hunger or cure anyone of Aids, but I was able to put smiles on children’s faces, teach them a foreign language, and be a companion as well inspiration and hope to kids who need it the most.

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