Climbers to aid Ethiopians |

Climbers to aid Ethiopians

I was very interested in the article entitled “Fighting Famine in Ethiopia” (Aspen Times Weekly, Dec. 13-14).

I had just recently returned from three weeks traveling in Ethiopia, visiting Save the Children USA’s remote area operations, including places in the famine-stricken southern region mentioned in the article.

I was privileged to be hosted by Rick Stoner, the Africa area director for Save’s programs on the continent. His office arranged for me to visit numerous emergency-feeding operations, school and water projects, and other programs around the country. Many of these were being conducted in extremely remote villages that are inaccessible during the four-month-long rainy season. It was an eye-opening experience.

The bottom line in Ethiopia is precisely as your story portrayed it. The primary goal must be increased developmental aid and assistance. Emergency assistance programs alone will not solve the problem.

It’s a complicated situation, not easily summed up in a few words, but I can testify to the life-saving work being performed and the need for increased support from all of us. I was overwhelmed on occasions by what I saw, but also inspired by the work being done and by the Ethiopian people themselves.

On Feb. 26, I will be departing for Africa again as part of a 14-person team that includes fellow Roaring Fork Valley resident Derek Ward. We’ll be visiting Malawi relief operations for several days in anticipation of a fund-raising expedition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. We shall summit on March 12 if all goes well.

Each team member has committed to raise at least $10,000, enough money to build, for instance, a school or water project. All of the money we raise goes directly to Save the Children programs ” 70 percent to the Malawi relief operations and the remainder to Save’s unrestricted funds for worldwide relief efforts.

Save the Children’s Web site,, will soon have a Kilimanjaro link with details about our trek, the Malawi program, plus climber photos and biographies. Once the trip begins, we’ll report daily from the field, so anyone can follow our progress.

If you are interested in donating to this effort, you can do so by making a check to Save the Children USA, noting on the check “Mt. Kili climb” and my code number, 79622. Checks can be mailed to me or to Save the Children, 54 Wilton Road, P.O. Box 980, Westport, CT 06881-9889.

Of course, by checking the Web site you can donate to Derek’s or any of the other climbers’ accounts if desired. It would be a terrific demonstration of the spirit of our community. It takes so very little to bring an incredible opportunity to desperately needy people.

George Mahaffey