As an Ethiopian immigrant, I am well aware of the lack of resources available to developing countries when compared to the U.S. It had always been my goal to support the disadvantaged youth back home by sending clothes, electronics, and toys to those in need. This began with my family and friends in Addis Ababa until I realized that it was the schools themselves that lacked the proper resources. I founded UniKids Inc. with the hopes of improving the educational resources within third-world countries. This work began in 2007 by donating a box of gently used school supplies to a single classroom in Ethiopia, East Africa.
The school supplies, though few in quantity, were beyond helpful to these children. My heart jumped for joy after seeing how excited they were to get crayons, markers, scissors, erasers, etc. Without these supplies, they would have continued their education with the basic pen and pencil. These supplies added color and creativity to their daily activities. From this point on, I knew that providing these resources would set the foundation for a new generation of children delighted to learn.
In 2008, the concept expanded from one box to fifteen boxes of supplies through the participation of an elementary school in Louisville, KY. The principal, teachers, parents, and students understood the importance of our mission and donated all new and gently used school supplies with great enthusiasm. The following year, we got a second school on board and more than doubled our supplies. After three years, we gradually grew our reputation in Louisville and acquired partnerships from ten schools in Kentucky.
Today, UniKids Inc. is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization in Louisville, KY and collaborates with more than twenty schools and educational facilities each year to support the educational and needs of children in developing countries. Low-income school-aged children and orphans in developing countries cannot afford to buy these supplies and are often disadvantaged in their growth. The lack of necessary tools to expand their imagination is disheartening and I believe that it is our responsibility to provide the resources that we take for granted to guarantee that children all over the world can learn to be the unique and inspiring individuals they were meant to be.
We are beyond cheerful that we started the journey of rallying U.S. students to become the Young Helping Hands to fellow students in developing countries. However, our mission is not finished yet and we need all the help we can get. We accept all school supplies, new and gently used, and would be more than grateful for any donations!