After our traveling to Ethiopia two years ago through H2Empower, my wife and I experienced the most enlightening trip we've had in our 50 years of traveling around the world. We left on the journey packed with all of our preconceived notions of what we would see, most of them were quickly dispelled. Sure there was poverty and conditions we as westerners were not accustomed. Despite some of their obvious struggles, we discovered the most beautiful, friendly, sharing, kind, happy, and grateful people we had ever met.We quickly understood why Helen, director of h2Empower, carries such a passion for her work in Ethiopia. It took us no time to share that passion. Helen has dedicated the last dozen years in advancing the educational needs within Ethiopia, offering her background as educator and administrator when she founded h2Empower. Helen was able to offer so many possibilities to enhance the educational practices in Ethiopia and become a change-maker. Much of her work has and continues to be in Hosanna, a rural town a few hours drive outside of Addis Ababa. What an experience to see first-hand the level of adulation and gratitude the people of this rural community bestowed upon Helen. Traveling for hours along dusty, rutty roads we arrived in our van to the school in Hosanna where we were quickly met by hundreds of children dancing and chanting a greeting, holding welcoming signs as they circled around our van in celebration of Helen’s arrival. It was quite obvious through this display that she was a much revered and welcomed guest. It was here in Hosanna we had the opportunity to see some of the fruits of Helen’s labor of love. Through her efforts, Helen was able to build a new library next to an elementary school in Hosanna, and stock it with thousands of donated books. Helen has also worked on bettering teacher training, improving literacy skills, raising women’s awareness in health issues, and working within the communities in solving some of their concerns such as getting access to potable drinking water, learning about permaculture gardening to aid in feeding their families. Through fund raising efforts, a half mile pipeline with spigots strategically placed along the connection, enabled fresh water to reach 40 families, a school and a library was built all of these contributions changing and enhancing the lives of so many! What we witnessed in the people of Ethiopia was the positive attitude, the willingness to work hard and change the lives for their children and while retaining their beautiful culture and traditions. What we were lucky enough to participate in, and see for ourselves, will never be forgotten. We concluded that we were all looking to make a brighter future for our children and future generations. Thank you h2Empower for doing something about that!
What started out as a grassroots collection of an incredible amount of boxes with books (90,000 according to the official record!), after 13 years, H2Empower has turned into an incredibly impressive, ever-growing, ever responding movement to support Ethiopia and Burundi with libraries, buildings, education, training, resources, and inspiration—all completely in line with the United Nation’s 17 Goals for Sustainable Development to Transform the World. Its committed, passionate, creative, and undaunted founder and leader Helen Boxwill exquisitely partners with the local community leaders to help them achieve and celebrates with them when they do. I have known Helen Boxwill since she was a principal in Huntington schools where she was completely devoted to the children. Now she has directed that loving energy to the world. I could not be prouder or more impressed with what she has achieved and continues to. She is a personal inspiration to me as everything that is right with the world.
Helen appeared in my life in 2009 at a critical moment...as the reading office TA of a public middle school on LI, I'd salvaged hundreds of young adult books from being discarded but was at the breaking point at my home storing these many boxes of "useless" reads. My husband kept asking, "Why are you holding on to these?...We don't have the room and no one is benefiting from them." Yes, he was right I knew, but I am constitutionally unable to throw reading material away. I kept playing for time in hopes some deus ex machina would help me find a good home for these great teen reads.
Enter my affiliation with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington at an inaugural concert for Obama's first term in office and I met Helen, became a UU, and shadowed her great work in social justice advocacy. My book cache, along with those of hundreds of other LI donors, made its way to Africa on a 40-ft container ship that H2Empower had somehow managed to arrange from NY to build her dream of a library in Ethiopia.
The rest is history (or perhaps "herstory") and I've been supporting Helen's efforts ever since. One day, I want to see for myself the amazing changes H2Empower has brought to the Ethiopian and Burundian towns and villages her work has helped develop. For now, I watch the amazing videos, attend her great "friend raisers", and marvel at the woman's energy, passion, and example.
Way to go Helen! You're my sheroe.
It is with some astonishment that I have watched the development of H2 Empower. When Helen Boxwill first went off to Ethiopia to teach future teachers of English in 2003, she asked us to collect and mail her some bags of books because books were a rare commodity in that country, and teachers needed them. When she returned to the USA after a year, she sent many more bags of books. Eventually her enthusiasm and leadership led to the collection of so many books that a huge shipping container was filled with the help of many volunteers, and the books were shipped to Hosanna, Ethiopia, the town in which she had been working.
Along the way, the need became obvious for a library building to house most of the books and make them available to the whole community. Rather than quail at the prospect, Helen energized donors here in the States and parents of students in Hosanna. The average income in Ethiopia is $2 a day; the parents alone raised $4,000, a remarkable achievement. The library was built, and the community has been involved from the beginning. The town now pays the salary of the librarian.
Next Helen met a Unitarian Universalist minister from Burundi who was seeking help for the people in his very poor country. H2 Empower eventually raised enough money to get 30 market women started with mini-grants that they would pay back, so other women could establish small businesses also. Next, with her leadership, we successfully sought sponsors for four year scholarships for 20 students in Burundi who would otherwise not have been able to attend college.
Most recently, H2 Empower has sponsored workshops for teachers, and this summer ran the first ever training for librarians in all of Ethiopia. Helen deserves enormous credit for the achievements of H2. She has the very rare ability to dream big and then work hard enough to see those dreams come true.
Helen Boxwill had a dream and I am glad that in a small way I was able to help. She works tirelessly to bring education, a library, water and hope to many less fortunate. It is that hope that warms one's heart. H2empower, as an organization, has delivered for many years through Ms. Boxwill's desire to make change. That change is what brings Ethiopia forward and provides the children and adults an opportunity to make progress. What could be better than to see the rooms at the library full and the smiles on so may faces.
I was introduced to h2empower about 8 months ago when I was saw a wonderful video showing the great work that is being done by this organization. I immediately wanted to participate and help out the hard working and dedicated people involved in this terrific nonprofit organization. The presentation I attended gave just a glimpse of the great work they are doing, and the impact that it is having in the community. How wonderful to know there are such dedicated working to contribute to the thousands of people who benefit from the community library, teacher training, education, and so much more. I am really proud to be able to help with the great work that h2empower is doing, and I look forward to seeing the plans and ideas for future projects come to be in the near future. The dedication, hard work, commitment, and heart that is given to this organization is incredible!
Ethiopia is not a land of plenty. In fact, if you looked at the statistics there is drought and as a consequence, food shortages. Additionally lack of sanitation brings high levels of major infectious diseases, the literacy rate ranks among the 10 lowest in the world with only 49% for males and 25% for females. Our founder, Helen Boxwill, a former teacher and administrator, saw a need to step in and work to better the lives in Ethiopia and Burundi .
After learning about Helen’s work, building a community library providing thousands of books, bringing water to communities, building classrooms, supporting girls education and setting up micro-loans and scholarships in Ethiopia and Burundi I was touched deeply by her dedication.
I along with my husband, visited Ethiopia on a trip Helen arranged. It was in 2015 we went to offer our service, see firsthand what Helen had accomplished and to see the vision of H2Empower in person. While in Ethiopia I saw how rich the people were, in sincerity, interest to learn and make a better life for themselves and their children. I saw how revered and celebrated Helen has become, how without pause she can tackle any project, solve problems and get the job done! Her dedication is unparalleled and has become her life’s work. I have called her the Mother Theresa of Ethiopia!
In 2016 I was privileged to be asked to serve as a board member of H2Empower. As an educator myself, I know the profound benefits education can make providing opportunities for economic growth, enhance conditions of health and well-being while improving the general quality of lives! I am proud to say that this is a small non-profit where we serve in an unpaid capacity, operating expenses are minimal and the donations are therefore put to good use fulfilling the goals directly back to the mission in Ethiopia and Burundi!
I feel very strongly about the work of H2 Empower since it is close to my heart. Yes, they have changed the lives of thousands of families through the transformative work of instilling the value of reading, building state-of-the -art libraries and training teachers and librarians to enhance and education in Ethiopia. What is so special about h2 Empower is the sheer passion of founder Helen Boxwill and the organization's ability to work closely with government officials to ensure sustainability for all their life-changing endeavors...whether it's installing wells for a schools and villages who never had easy access to water, to building classrooms, schools, libraries that led to inspiring commercial business in remote villages, to empowering girls to have a voice and so much more. All the work of h2 Empower gives direct positive impact to children, families and communities. I've been to Ethiopia for the Hosanna library's grand opening celebrations and it is truly remarkable how much a small non-profit such as H2 Empower has achieved through incredible respect in the region. Not only that ,in Burundi, Africa the organization provides college scholarships to high-achieving students at risk of losing any opportunity for advanced education. This academic support is a source of pride for H2Empower as well. I am proud of the vital work of to h2 Empower to uplift the lives of so many....beginning with the love and empowerment of reading and then spreading the love to transform full lives.
H2 Empower has tirelessly and diligently worked to enhance education in Ethiopia and has built a sustainable community library in Hosanna, Ethiopia. The sheer dedication and educational expertise that h2 Empower brings to it's numerous projects is beyond compare. Whether it's spearheading enormous
book drives in the US, shipping thousands of books to Ethiopia, training teachers, communicating with local officials and parents in local villages or supporting college scholarships for students in Burundi, H2 Empower is an organization that is deeply committed to empowering lives through education. As a founding board member, I have watched in awe as the countless obstacles were overcome and many goals realized.
I have known Helen Boxwill since we attended high school together. I am certain Helen's Non-Profit is successful because of Helen's true dedication to the betterment of humankind. The accomplishments made by Helen and her fellow volunteers speaks to their sincere love of wanting to see the lives of people improved through education, the building of a library with thousands of books, and the introduction of water to the community. It fills my heart to see the photos of the joy displayed on the faces of the community members and the pride they take in their schools and library. I am so grateful to such kind and compassionate people like Helen and her staff of teachers and administrators. Thank you to one and all. You are making our world a better one.
It has been amazing to witness the impact of h2 Empower's work. The drive to meet the needs of the community went from building a library to delivering books, health care through putting in water, building classrooms to lower class size, helping girls stay in school and many other works. These activities have helped thousands of people. I have been happy to be a part of this important effort to bring sustainable development to these eager people.
Honored h2 Empower Inc.