My name is Demisew Getaneh and I'm the founder of Take Care of Home. My story isn't much different from the average immigrant so I will spare you the personal story of my upbringing. But I will share with you why I started this nonprofit and how anyone is capable of doing the same or something even better. Initially, I was reluctant to create a public page or even build a website for this organization/project because I didn't think people would genuinely be interested. After multiple efforts of organizing fun events with friends to aid other similar non profit groups the past 5-6 years, I was convinced that habesha people in Los Angeles only like helping the less fortunate in theory. Getting $20 became more painful than pulling teeth. As a result, I became judgmental in that most people do not go beyond profound quotes or a religious scripture on their social media pages, or wave the flag with "hardly home but always reppin" written across the caption. I felt our effort was not matched with the enthusiasm we expected from the community and that left me deflated about future events. Maybe it was our approach. Maybe it was our method. Maybe because the money we raised was forwarded to multiple grass root organizations and we didn't have a way to hold them accountable and update us and our donors on their projects. Those fundraising experiences only made me cynical about what people say they want and what they actually do.
Fast forward to 2014, I visited my elementary school in Gonder that I had attended for a grand total of 3 months before departing for the States back in the early 90s. On my visit, I noticed nothing had changed since 1991. No upgrades. Matter of fact everything had deteriorated. I asked the principal why the current crummy condition of the school and he said they're working with the budget they're given, but there was great optimism in his tone while carrying a stick and a folder, and wearing a white coat. Before walking away, I reached in my pocket and gave him $100 US dollars as an alumni donation. I thought I was funny calling myself an alumni. I thought he would find it amusing and a nice gesture but instead he said nope I can't take that money directly from you. He continued to instruct me that the money needs to be registered in the book of donations and that I should be aware of how it will be spent. His secretary wrote down my name and next to it the amount of the donation. They both looked at each other and said this was the biggest private donation they had ever received. They then proceeded to show me a small room that was half done and that my little $100 would go towards finishing what would be their only library since the inception of the school. I left that school feeling like I had made a whole world of difference.
This small trip to my elementary school that I had only attended for 3 months triggered an idea that would later become "Take Care Of Home", why not assist these schools, who mainly educate the poorest of the poor with basic needs. I was already in the country every year at that point. Why not be productive. All of a sudden a small gesture turned into an endless amount of possibilities with encouragement from family and friends. The support that we, as a team of Take Care Of Home, received turned my erroneous judgement about theoretical habesha helpers into a movement where anything is possible. We are currently helping 500+ students, directly or indirectly. Our goal with Take Care of Home, is always to emphasis that someone like me and you, who live a simple life, can change the world, one kid and one school at a time. We do not need to be millionaires or celebrities to make a positive financial difference. Matter of fact, we the diaspora have a responsibility to share our resources (money, knowledge, etc...) with those less fortunate. Lets redefine the meaning of what it means to be proud of where you came from. Patriotism isn't defined by posture, although social media will have you believe otherwise. Draping ourselves in the flag and reciting positive thoughts or historical facts just isn't enough if we are being honest. Let's always ask ourselves 'how am I contributing to the welfare of my brothers and sisters?'. This project that started as a donation to an old memory is my way of sharing my resources, with unwavering support from family, and friends. And we are only getting started.
"One person can make a difference. That one person can be you."