When do the paths of a German girl and an Ethiopian girl of the same age intersect? Not very often. Especially not if there are 8000 kilometres between them and their distinct lives. For either of them it would be near to impossible to imagine being in the other person’s shoes, even for just a day.
What is separating them is not only distance, but also the prominent differences in their surroundings, cultures, and experiences. Not many people get to experience a place outside of their own reality thoroughly, but contact is the first step. The sponsorship programs that PROJECT-E offers allows for exactly that exchange of perspectives.
There are two sponsorship programs available. One covers all costs of living of one student per month (about 30,-€) and the other covers part of one student’s expenses (20,-€). Both programs include receiving letters from the students, the young women at the PEHI, and the donors are encouraged to respond back. The students often write about their life at the PEHI, their family, their hobbies, and well as their dreams and future aspirations. There’s also the opportunity to give a sponsorship as a present. This makes the idea of the programs even more enriching and, quite literally, life-changing. The kind act of participating in the sponsorship programs is not only beautiful because a small portion of one person’s income can change the life of another’s. It is even more of an act of compassion as these are not donations made to an idea or a stranger. There are actual people, young and bright women, who have so much potential and are realizing it because of the collective collaboration of others as well as their own hard work.
As mentioned in the very beginning, some paths are way less likely to intersect than others. And while we often praise diversity and cultural exchange, nothing truly exemplifies that as much as actual engagement between people of different backgrounds. Our sponsorship programs have allowed, for example, parents to donate to students at the institute. Their children, in turn, got to read letters from the students the donations supported and wrote letters back themselves. This first-hand interaction between people in different parts of the world is a rare opportunity for many and cultivates mutual understanding, compassion, curiosity, and human connection in its greatest form. All these are the building blocks of a future filled with more kindness and less fear of the unknown.
Written by Ruth Makonnen