Edison grad hopes to impact African youth

Abbe Ewell knows about the threats moving to Liberia can pose typhoid, hepatitis A and yellow fever, to name a few. Ewell, 24, knows the country in western Africa lacks running water and that shack towns dot Liberia.
Aaron Krause
Jul 25, 2010

 

Abbe Ewell knows about the threats moving to Liberia can pose typhoid, hepatitis A and yellow fever, to name a few.

Ewell, 24, knows the country in western Africa lacks running water and that shack towns dot Liberia.

But, she also knows the country's children are in need of a better life.

That is why the Edison High School graduate is leaving behind friends and familiarity in Chicago, where she lives and works, and going to Liberia Wednesday.

She plans to spend nine months in the country, volunteering with the African Youth Development Action Project.

The organization's aims are multi-fold, and include: Developing a multicultural community through cultural understanding and tolerance; Advancing the education of young Africans through health, environmental and cultural guidance and services and alleviating poverty by providing access to educational and career opportunities.

Anyone who wishes to achieve these goals and objectives may participate.

Ewell has volunteered for different causes most of her life. She heard about the project through her previous employer, the Chicago volunteer organization Chicago Cares, Inc. Besides, Ewell has wanted to volunteer in Africa for several years; she has read about the continent, and said she learned about its many needs.

"I feel there's been a lot of unsuccessful attempts to meet the needs," Ewell said.

And so, Ewell began preparing for the move, which is hardly like a jaunt from one U.S. city to another. She had to get shots for Typhoid, hepatitis A, yellow fever and learn about medication options to treat malaria, should she get it.

Ewell also had to buy a bed net to protect her against mosquitoes; although she will be living in an apartment complex, there are no screen doors.

"It's not going to be pretty, but I was told I could live very comfortably on $300 a month," said Ewell, a cheery red-head whose voice fills with excitement as she discusses her trip.

She said at least once a day, she laughingly asks herself whether she's crazy for moving to Liberia.

But, Ewell is not letting the living conditions or the health risks stop her. She's making the trip for Liberia's children.

"It's astonishing just to hear about these kids who grew up in this war-torn country," Ewell said, adding some have never seen Caucasians before and might be startled.

Ewell said she will just let the youngsters slowly warm up to her.

Is Ewell scared about the move?

"I haven't really had a moment to pause and be scared," she said.

Comments

Annie (Anonymous)

Good for you, Abbe! I hope you have a safe and successful journey!!

Emily (Anonymous)

This is one amazing woman- humble, energetic, passionate and kind.

Show your support and follow Abbe's adventures by visiting her blog! www.abbeinafrica.blogspot.com