Telluride AIDS Benefit beneficiary: Ethiopian Family Fund

Telluride AIDS Benefit beneficiary: Ethiopian Family Fund

[click “Play” to listen to Susan’s interview with Marla Hodes]

BABY HEART BEAT_Keener Of the Telluride AIDS Benefit’s  (February 18 – March 1) half dozen beneficiaries, several are out of Africa, including the Ethiopian Family Fund.

Ethiopia is the fourth poorest nation in the world. However, unlike many African countries, Ethiopians, who divide among Muslim, Jewish and Orthodox Christian, peacefully co-exist. Given the rampant poverty and wholesale lack of education, HIV risk is high and medications are very limited. According to UN estimates, about 3 million Ethiopians have been exposed to the AIDS virus, with over 600,000 children made orphans and one-third of Ethiopia’s hospital beds used by carriers of the disease.


In the West, AIDS may be ubiquitous, but it is also manageable. In the developing world, however, the AIDS crisis remains muzzled and the disease regarded as something mysterious, a stigma or punishment for some unnamed and unnameable wrongdoing. Though campaigns in Africa have been implemented, their effect has been token. New medicines that have been effective in the West for containing HIV are very costly and virtually unavailable to African AIDS patients. In Ethiopia, much like in Manzini and the rest of Africa, people are fighting what appears to be a losing battle against the epidemic.

This past November, Ethiopia was host to the first annual International Conference on AIDS in Ethiopia, co-sponsored by the Harvard AIDS Institute and W.E. DuBois Institute in conjunction with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. The conference acknowledge the urgency of the issue and a willingness for open discourse. Organizations such as the Ethiopian Family Fund take the dialog a step further, turning words into action and action into hope through education, prevention, and outreach for the children and  their “mothers” (female guardians) who work under the Fund’s umbrella.

Inspired by Dr. Rick Hodes, who has spent the last 25 years in Ethiopia saving children’s lives at Mother Teresa’s Mission for the destitute and dying in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, The Fund was founded  by part-time Telluride locals Marla Hodes and Melanie Robbins in 2006.

Following the Nicholas Kristoff model of taking the fight to the battleground and with the help of the Telluride AIDS Benefit, Hodes and Robbins are all about changing young lives – and TAB  helps big time.

Two little girls, Maresha and Tsion, affected by AIDS in their families, have literally had their lives transformed with the help provided by TAB. These girls, who come from destitute families, would have been at very high risk for contacting HIV/AIDS due to a lack of education and opportunity to do something productive with their lives. Thanks TAB’s largesse, the two now attend a great school and receive tutorials after school geared towards HIV/AIDS education/prevention.

4073545820_946b4d5ccb_m The Ethiopian Family Fund also helps an organization called ACSO, Alem’s Children Support Organization, which helps desperate children, 80% of whom have been orphaned or left with one parent or a guardian because of the virus. With the help of the Telluride AIDS Benefit and the Fund, Alem is presently helping 1005 young people. Specifically, with TAB’s donation, EFF pays for the supplemental nutritional program for the preschool programs while also implementing simple programs for young children regarding hygiene and AIDS prevention,

To learn more about the many ways TAB helps the Fund help the kids, click the “play” button and listen to Marla Hodes’ podcast.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.