Reaching Out to Ethiopia

Leadership class holds campout, fast and race to raise awareness and funds

The Transformational Leadership class has endeavored to do something much more than a simple class project, but now has a mission to make an international impact. Junior Kyle Beane is part of the class and said that as they have been learning about transformational leadership, he has been reminded of a song that’s stuck with him over the years, called “Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot.

“Recently I’ve been thinking about what that would mean, especially in this class. We have us here at Whitworth who follow and know the Lord and He’s calling us to move,” Beane said. “Even though this is just a class project, it’s a great opportunity for this campus to move and show the world that Christ has impacted our lives.”

In the class, Transformational Leadership (LS-350), students propose and carry out a service learning project to put the transformative leadership theory in action. The project started with having the class split up into three groups to come up with a proposal on how to make a difference in the world by partnering with an organization.

Beth Crabtree | Photographer

The winning proposal was to work with Community Health Evangelism (CHE) to educate children on healthy practices to avoid disease. Senior Bryce McCandless said CHE is an organization that goes into Ethiopian communities to train volunteers and leaders in the community on things such as basic hygiene, public sanitation, and other factors that they don’t know that can influence their health.

“Disease is a huge problem in Ethiopia, especially HIV-AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis,” McCandless said. “Part of the reason disease is so prevalent is that they don’t realize that washing your hands or having a pit latrine for public sanitation has such a big impact on your own individual health.”

CHE has not only educated communities on healthy self-care and community sanitation, but has been able to share the gospel. McCandless said that since the organization has had such tangible effects they have had a lot of success in sharing the gospel.

Junior Chloe Russell said CHE now aims to teach the children so they can teach the parents and the community in order to eradicate the continuous health problem throughout generations. They are trying to start these preventive programs in three regions in Ethiopia, but the leadership class is focusing on just one of those regions.

The Campout and Fast

The leadership class has been organizing events that will raise awareness as well as the start-up funds for CHE’s new children’s program. McCandless said the class was broken up into different committees to prepare and his was the campout committee.

“We came up with the idea of simulating an Ethiopian orphanage because often times what happens in Ethiopia is orphans are taken out of the community that they’re in, are shipped off to an orphanage, and then are adopted out of the country,” McCandless said. “This happens instead of children being adopted into the community to start with, where they can be reached by the CHE children’s program and be a part of the solution to help better their community.”

The class, as well as other volunteers, camped out in the Loop last Sunday and Monday night as “orphans”. Participants were called orphans because in a way, they would be experiencing the isolation from one’s community that children in Ethiopia go through when they are adopted out of their country. Each participant was asked to find ten “sponsors,” and once that happened they would be “adopted” back into the Whitworth community. In order to become a sponsor, someone would have to agree to sign up for the fast that will happen April 30 to May 2.

Russell, who was part of the fasting committee, said the fast will start at dinner on Tuesday, April 30, continue all through Wednesday, and then through Thursday breakfast and lunch. During that time Sodexo will provide rice and water in the multi-purpose room for the people that are fasting. There is also the option to donate $30 in flex dollars or give $12 in cash or check.

McCandless said the class hopes to create a transforming experience that will alter the participant’s perspectives and get them thinking about what they are blessed with here and how they are able to make a direct impact.

“We are trying to get people to identify more with the experience of people in Ethiopia, particularly rural Ethiopia, where they don’t have as much food and have to deal with things like sleeping outside where it’s cold,” McCandless said. “They don’t have nice insulated dorm rooms to stay in every night.”

Because of this goal, the leadership class encouraged participants not to shower or change clothes until they were adopted back into the Whitworth community. Russell said there was a debrief  the first night about what CHE is, what the classes goals are, and how they can help through funding and prayer. She said it was a little cold both nights so it was definitely difficult sleeping in that weather, but it was great to see how many people came out to support.

Sophomore Samantha Pridemore said that initially she was not very excited about the idea of camping outside in the Loop, but as she saw other people getting excited about it, she began to enjoy it more. McCandless said that while the class had been hoping it wouldn’t get too cold, it turned out to work in their favor because it got people to reflect on the purpose of the campout.

“I think part of the transforming experience was that the cold weather hopefully got people thinking, ‘Wow, I was freezing cold last night, but why was I freezing cold? Well, I’m helping with a project that’s working to help literally save lives because it’s working with a disease prevention program,’” McCandless said.

There was a campfire in the evenings where people could get s’mores as they walked along the Hello Walk. McCandless said the class had expected participants to be around the camp mainly in the evening, but to their surprise a number of people hung out around the site throughout the day.

The Race

After the campout and the fast, there will be an event called “The Amazing Race: Ethiopia” happening next Thursday, May 1 for those that have been involved in the campout or fast. For those that have not been involved in the campout or fast, the race will cost $5.

Beane said the class wanted to offer an experience for Whitworth students that was different than anything they are used to.

“We wanted to create something where students would have to go through a day in the life of an Ethiopian child, as much as we can here in Spokane,” Beane said. “We wanted to make it educational, but also fun.”

So they created an event based on the television show The Amazing Race. There will be several challenges around the Whitworth campus to be completed in teams. The teams will be determined depending on the orphan that the sponsor supported. Each station has been designed to mimic challenges that CHE is working to overcome within Ethiopian communities.

There will be one person from the leadership class at each station to educate participants on the meaning behind the challenge and to answer any questions. They will also be timing how fast the teams complete each challenge.

The challenges include:

  • Crossing a river - Participants will have to use “rafts” (cardboard boxes) to get from one side of the street to the other. It will be right outside of the HUB on the street in front of Arend.

  • Then the participants will run to the front of Boppel where they will eat something that upsets their stomach (gummy worms).

  • At the smoke shack behind Baldwin-Jenkins they will dig pit latrines. In Ethiopia there is a shortage of restrooms, but there are pit latrines.

  • Someone in the group will then get a “snake bite” on their foot and so the group will have to carry them from the pit latrine to the BJ lawn where they will then be healed.

  • On the BJ lawn there will be a small pool filled with water where participants will fill up a bucket of water and carry it to the totem pole. The roads are “rivers” so they will have to use the crosswalks. That symbolizes what the kids go through to get water for their families in Ethiopia.

  • At the totem pole they will “pick grain” by filling up a bean bag with beans.

  • Then there will be water balloon lawn darts on the steps of Ballard. Chalk will designate a dart board. That is meant to symbolize spear throwing and hunting.

  • Finally, there will be a Pictionary-type challenge in which the participants will recount the events of the race.

At the end of the race, participants will be able to grab dinner and meet in the Crow’s Nest for ice cream sundaes to celebrate the end of the fast and debrief the events of the week.

“We’re hoping to get some stories about things that happened [and] also to hear what participants learned in doing the events, what impacted them, and what made them realize the hard work that these kids go through for their families,” Beane said.

The process of planning an event to raise awareness of CHE’s mission to impact the lives of suffering kids in Ethiopia has affected the students in the leadership class.

“It’s so much more than just a class project. I love serving others and sharing Christ  and if I can do that directly then great and if I can do a project like this to help kids I’ll never know, that’s great too,” Beane said. “I love that God will make this a fruitful experience for them to receive the fruits of our labor.”

Russell said that more than just giving a monetary donation, she hopes participants will realize that even in Spokane, Wash. you can reach out to a different part of the world.  With the hope of transforming mindsets, the leadership class has experienced the challenge of transformational leadership and the growth marked by persistence.

Beane said he has grown as a leader through the project because he’s learned how tough it is to get people on board to do something that you yourself are passionate about and really believe in. With so many great causes that Whitworth students are already involved in, it’s hard to get them to join another. Yet he said he’s found that when you show passion and enthusiasm when introducing something, you will go a long way.

As the project has been developing and people have gotten involved, Pridemore said her enthusiasm increased, and through it she even realized her own passion: helping out in her own community. Whether you get connected with an international organization or one here in Spokane, Pridemore said that it is important to get involved because it broadens your horizon and lets you know that things aren’t as easy as it is in the pine cone community.