Spartanburg, S.C.-- While most college students are thinking about their upcoming mid-term exams and making plans for that fabulous Spring Break trip, Jessie Price’s mind is a world away. In fact, she is thinking about the children she helped teach this summer at the Kamashi Orphanage in Ethiopia.
Price is an elementary education major at the University of South Carolina Upstate, who saved her money and traveled to the African country this summer where she taught English. The teachers used flash cards, posters and coloring books to communicate with and teach the students.
“It was really a neat experience,” said Price. “I didn’t have the field experience so to stand up in front of a group of children was really challenging for me. However, it is a big motivator for me to earn my bachelor’s degree in elementary education.”
She feels that the experience in the Ethiopian classroom really gave her a taste of what teaching will be like. She also feels that earning her degree from USC Upstate is going to help her be so much more productive in the classroom.
The orphanage, run by Blessing The Children International, is located in Benishangul-Gumuz, which is one of the poorest regions of one of the poorest countries in the world.
“Experiencing the living conditions at the orphanage was a real eye-opener for me,” said Price, a sophomore who is from Greer. “But what was really amazing was how happy, open and genuine the children were. You could feel their love and see it in their eyes.”
Price was always interested in learning more about African countries but she became determined to travel there after a friend shared her stories from visiting Ethiopia. Among her prized possessions is the small cross that her friend brought her back from Ethiopia.
Price works part-time at Garner’s Natural Market and Café in Greenville and attends classes full-time at USC Upstate. Her desire to visit the orphanage was so strong and convincing that Garner’s and Dr. Ron Romine, a professor at USC Upstate, provided donations to help Price with the $3,000 needed to fund her trip.
“Jessie is such an amazing young lady and is truly inspiring,” said Candace Garner, owner of Garner’s Natural Market and Café. “I greatly admire Jessie for the career path she has chosen. We need more young adults like her that want to make a difference in the world.”
Garner and her employees are supportive of Price and her mission trip. They have donated vitamins and nutritional supplements to the children in the orphanage.
“The orphanage holds a special place in my heart,” said Price. “I am excited to be able to play in a part in helping the children get on their own two feet and helping them find their way in life."
Price is already trying to master the Amharic language, the national language of Ethiopia, because she feels it will put her at a better advantage of teaching the students English.
“I want them to be able to succeed in this world and for them to do so they have to be fluent in English,” said Price.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic, appalling poverty and dire health conditions have resulted in an estimated 4 million orphans in the Benishangul-Gumuz region. These children represent the poorest segment of a society and suffer most with no parents to guide them in their struggle for survival in an already cruel world. The Kamashi Orphanage was established in response to Ethiopia President Yaregal Aysheshim's plea for help in caring for the orphans in his region of Ethiopia.
In a land of mud huts and straw thatched roofs, the Kamashi Orphanage, constructed by the Ethiopian Government and given free of charge to Blessing The Children International, stands out in contrast. Though located in a primitive land, it's constructed with modern technology like; concrete walls and floors, tiled roofs, electrical wiring, and plumbing.
The campus has a capacity of 500 children, and includes facilities for housing, feeding and educating the children in first rate accommodations. In the home, children are provided plenty to eat, a warm bed and a clean environment along with supervision by loving dorm parents who attend to their physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. While fun things are planned to provide diversion, they are rounded out with daily chores, bible reading, and devotions. The desired outcome is that the children will become responsible and contributing members of society and a witness for Christ.
“Teaching at the Kamashi Orphanage is definitely a calling for me,” said Price. “In America we have so many distractions. In Ethiopia, the people make their faith a part of their daily life. They feel so blessed for what they have and that is very inspiring to me.”
While she was teaching at the orphanage, Price traveled to a nearby market with other team members where they bought 37 pairs of shoes for the children. This was the first time that many of the children had ever worn shoes.
Her commitment to this orphanage and its children is a constant in her daily life. She sends $90 a month to sponsor a 10-year old child named Yitayal Mamo. Her donation provides school supplies, clothing, food and medical supplies for this child.
“Sometimes it is hard to send $90 a month, especially since I am in college and working part-time,” she said. “But I know what little I am sacrificing is making a huge impact on Yitayal.”
Price plans to complete her degree at USC Upstate and spend her summer and winter breaks teaching at the orphanage. Garner’s Natural Market and Café is collecting donations to help pay for Price’s trip to Ethiopia. If you wish to make a donation, please mail a check to Garner’s Natural Market and Café, 60 Antrim Drive, Greenville, SC 29607.
Upon graduation, Price plans to move to Ethiopia permanently to teach full-time at the Kamashi Orphanage. She is the daughter of Carroll Price of Greer, and Patricia Price of Tennessee. Price attends Unity Church in Greenville.