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From a petty 8th grader to an aspiring journalist :)

June 21, 2006: My British Airways flight lands in Addis Ababa, the bustling capital of Ethiopia. My mother trudges along with our luggage, and I push my sister’s wheelchair through the bleak airport. I’m in a horrible mood; I’m awfully homesick and miss my father dearly. Alas, we reach the area where family members embrace us with love and wet kisses on the cheeks.

When the small town of Assassa- a place enveloped by sandstorms and is about a day’s drive from Addis Ababa- looms into visibility, I am appalled by the way people live, how they dress, what they reside in, and the rocky, sandy landscape of the town. I’m on the verge of tears as we pull up to my great-uncle’s house, and want nothing more than to fly back to Vancouver and curl up into my comfortable bed.

It is at this moment that it hits me like a ton of bricks: At least I HAVE a comfortable home and life to go back to; these people do not. This realization would forever change the way I live life.

For the next 10 months that I would spend in Assassa, I brainstormed. I would try to think of ways that I could help those who were in need of it, for I would constantly see beggars and the disabled either left on the streets or dressed in rags with no equipment. The latter really hit close to home; my sister Datu has Cerebral Palsy- and while she is fortunate to receive medical attention here in Canada, the same can’t be said for the disabled in Assassa, who are left to care and fend for themselves. Thus, any ideas that would come to me would be jot down into the sand with a stick, or whispered into my mother’s ears to store into her mental memory box.

This is the beginning of my story. In the span of my 10 months in Ethiopia, I had gone from a petty 8th grader to a fully aware, responsible, critical, social leader. I had begun to realize that life wasn’t about pop music and shoes; it was about lending a helping hand to those in need of it. I had embarked on the path of becoming a leader in my community, and made a life-long goal to make a difference in the world, big or small.

That life-long goal continues to be fulfilled as I aspire to become a journalist in the future, so that I can raise awareness and address the issues in my community and around the globe. The online community of World Pulse provides the venue to do just that; with this network of amazing individuals and the sharing of ideas, inspirations, and information, I am able to hear about pressing issues from around the world and also present issues as well. Voices of Our Future, a rather fantastic initiative, provides a platform for me to weave journalism and leadership together, two areas that I am feverously passionate about, to make a difference and create a unique dent in the global community.

Comments

Adepeju's picture

Your article left me smiling.

Your article left me smiling. Your enthusiasm is contagious!

dbudicha's picture

Well, your comment left me

Well, your comment left me smiling :) Thanks so much for your feedback!

Cheers,
Dharra

Deewai's picture

Beautiful realization. Please

Beautiful realization. Please continue writing :)

dbudicha's picture

Aw, why thank you! Thanks for

Aw, why thank you! Thanks for your support... I will continue writing :)

Peace,
Dharra

KathyG's picture

Inspiring!

What a great, uplifting personal story of growth and awareness. You did a great job of weaving in the personal emotions with the place descriptors. Good luck in your future adventures. I look forward to reading more about them here on World Pulse!

Kathy

Just a quick suggestion... if you want to get more readership of your posts, remember you can add more tags. You do need the tag "2011 VOF Week 2" like you have it, but you can add other tags separated by commas. For example "2011 VOF Week 2, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Women's Empowerment, Journalism, Disability" and/or anything thing else you think someone might search on.

dbudicha's picture

Hey Kathy... thank you so

Hey Kathy... thank you so much! I appreciate the feedback and support :)

AHA!!!!!!! *bangs head against the wall like Dobby, the house-elf*... that is what I have failed to do! THANK YOU for the tip Kathy, I'll be sure to do that from now on!

Cheers,
Dharra :)

Hi Dbudicia!

Truly enjoyed reading your journal post, especially since I can relate to it personally! I had a similar experience after moving to Eritrea from the United States at the age of 16. I still live in Eritrea but in the beginning, the culture shock I had experienced was quite hard. But once I had the opportunity to assess the environment, witness the challenges and count my blessings, I too had become aware of the pivotal role one could play in bringing about social change that would positively help the disadvantages. Besides spreading awareness as a journalists, have you been able to take on projects and initiatives to bring about such social change? If so, I would love to learn more about your experiences. And if you haven't, I would love to discuss with you progressive ways in doing so, especially when it comes to bringing about peace and sustainable development throughout the Horn of Africa.

KEEP UP THE EXCELLENT WORK!!

dbudicha's picture

Hey Rahel! Thank you so much

Hey Rahel!

Thank you so much for your comment! YES! I FINALLY know someone who truly understands the culture shock and the my-world-has-turned-upside-down type of feeling :) But indeed, once the culture shock wears off, you start to realize something different about the society you are in- and not a good different, either.

Aside from trying to raise awareness, I've recently started a project called "The Datu Foundation"- (Datu is the name of my sister, who has Cerebral Palsy), in hopes of helping those who are disabled in the Assassa region. I'm still working out the kinks of it, and I'm not sure whether I should take a hand-out or hand-up approach in helping these people, but it's obvious that they need BASIC human supplies like clothes, shoes, blankets, mats, etc.

In terms of social change, you and I both know that political differences and conflicts that rage throughout the Horn of Africa have led to oppression, cruelty, corruption, and death. I'm an Oromo, and while many Oromo leaders and community members are pumping money and effort into the cause of securing freedom for the homeland.... I'm looking at the non-militant side of things. Where's the effort being pumped into issues such as lack of education, youth involvement, female empowerment, and aiding poverty-stricken inhabitants? My stance on the issue is that, yes, Oromo people were oppressed and suffered dearly many years ago, and we're trying to fight for justice in Ethiopia, but the TOTAL disregard for other issues in our own backyard ( that are perhaps even MORE pressing) is what bothers me. I recently wrote a letter to the BC Oromo Community (that was later e-mailed to every Oromo community centre in Canada and the US) and presented it at one of the huge meetings we have annually, asking WHY the youth were being disregarded, WHY we were fighting for the so called freedom of our people when our women were being abused by the hands of our own men so severely in the country side, and WHY the adult leaders of this community were not striving to build schools or at least educate the up and coming generation of youth leaders like myself, and much more.

I know it's not much at all! But Rahel, I would absolutely LOVE to discuss ways of bringing social change throughout the Horn of Africa... I'm very passionate about that (I'm just stuck as to what I can actually DO, haha) and I'm definitely interested in peace and sustainable development throughout the region!

Thanks for reaching out to me Rahel! Look forward to hearing back from you soon :)

Sincerely,
Dharra

Rahel Weldeab's picture

VERY VALID QUESTIONS!

Sister Dharra!

Your questions about why the youth are being disgraded, why women are being abused and why adult leaders are not striving to build schools and youth leaders are VERY VALID!!! These are the EXACT questions we, the youth of the Horn of Africa, should be asking. These are the exact issues we should be challenging head on as active youth citizens! You and I should definitely keep in close touch!

In 2008, my organization established the Horn of Africa Youth Initiative during a regional youth peace conference. We've been having challenges in building the capacity of this network, but I can send you some documents about it. We will have the website for the HAYI network up and running soon, but in the mean time, check out the strategic paper we developed in 2008. If you give me your email address, I can email you The New Framework for the HAYI Network, which outlines the type of activities we'll be undertaking from Oct 2011 to Sept 2012. Within the next year, we'll be organizing a regional youth peace forum again... It would be awesome if you could come! I'll keep you updated on this!!

It's very exciting to have come across your post... I think this is a great start to a beautiful friendship!!!

Rahel Weldeab's picture

HAYI Network info

Here's a link to all the info about the HAYI Network... I'll keep you informed about the new website we're developing as well as the New Framework already established!!

http://nueyseritrea.wordpress.com/networks/horn-of-africa-youth-initiati...

dbudicha's picture

Dearest Rahel, WHERE ON EARTH

Dearest Rahel,

WHERE ON EARTH HAVE YOU BEEN IN MY LIFE?! This is an awesome and fantastic initiative! 10 youth organizations at the peace forum= that must've been a beautiful sight to see. Wow, major props to you and your organization... this is truly what the youth of the Horn of Africa needs. I can't describe how happy I am right now :) Indeed, the start of a beautiful friendship it is... yes please let's keep in close touch!!!!! Here's my e-mail: dbudicha@sfu.ca

Looking forward to the documents and the HAYI framework!

Dharra

dbudicha's picture

:)

I'm so excited!

Chantelle Hollenbach's picture

Brilliant!

Hello Dharra

It is a sacred and beautiful thing to have such powerful realizations at such a young age - I applaud your vision and send you strength to continue on your path - Many small dents = big impact :)

Chanti

dbudicha's picture

Hear Hear

Hey Chanti!

Thank you for your support and encouraging words! Indeed, many small dents make a humongous impact. Individually, we are all tiny rocks, but collectively, we are a towering and massive mountain, capable of doing anything.

Thanks Chanti!

Cheers,
Dharra

KeMadagascar's picture

I love your story!!

I just wanted to encourage you to make your dreams come true. It won't always be easy, you'll sometimes feel lonely but NEVER GIVE UP!! Help as much people as you can and always hold on your beliefs. You're already an amazing woman but I'm convinced there's a lot more to come for you! :)

cheers,
Ke

dbudicha's picture

Thank you!

Hello Ke!

Aw, thank you so much! I really appreciate it.... I truly have quite a long way to go, but for now, baby steps will suffice. You make a good point in the fact that it won't be easy to fulfill my dreams- there will be mountains to jump over and a sphinx at every road to answer a riddle to. But as the Brits say "Keep calm and carry on"... indeed, never giving up is the key!

Thank you for your beautiful words Ke!

Peace,
Dharra

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