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.
Iv'e known Helen Boxwill director of H2empower for close to ten years and had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Ethiopia with her in 2015. Her never-ending love and enthusiasm for the people of Hosanna was obvious as we visited several schools and participated in teacher workshops. She is doing what many set out to do but may never achieve. By incorporating the assistance of the local people with outside help she has been able to effect true change..the building of a public library and bringing clean water to schools. H2empower also provides scholarships to college students in Burundi as well as micro loans to women's businesses. The organization works with continuous energy to empower the people of Hosanna, Ethiopia and burundi.
I have known this nonprofit from the very beginning. I never cease to be amazed by how much has been done . From a what started as a great idea to being able to see people using the library and enjoying the experience is just beyond words. This group works tirelessly and continues to find new and wonderful ways to improve on what has been done!
It has been my honor to be a part of the incredible work being done by H2empower. The heartfelt dedication is contagious. However small my part has been life changing.
H2Empower statement from Randa Jacobs
In March 2013 I traveled to Ethiopia to visit my friend and colleague, Helen Boxwill.
I had heard stories of her volunteer activities in Ethiopia for nearly a dozen years. Finally, I witnessed the results following years of dedication, perseverance, and commitment to the “Library Project”.
With great attention to detail, and timing, Helen organized our tour. It was one of the most comprehensive experiences I have ever had. After a brief visit, including extraordinary historical, anthropological, biological, and botanical areas, cultural, educational, religious shrines, even simple and ordinary everyday life, I returned home, my curiousity very satiated.
I enjoyed wandering around Addis Ababa, taking in Lalibela, learning about stelae, eating wonderful foods, and being entertained by local dancers, and musicians.
The most memorable event of all:
After a very long drive to Hosana, Helen brought us to the site of her project, the brand-new library. It was an impressive sight! I was reminded of conversations we had had over the years. She never let anything stop her quest to make literacy available to all. She and her organization made it REAL!
Helen planned a TEACHER TRAINING day. While we were in Hosana we participated by presenting a workshop to the teachers in the area. We shared BEST PRACTICES, strategies and ideas to help make learning fun, and effective.
The workshop was well attended; and in spite of language, and cultural differences, the participants received us with great enthusiasm. The day was very successful!
I am proud to know Helen, and to have had the opportunity to participate in her ‘dream come true’. It was thrilling, and I plan to continue to support her project
I first met Helen Boxwill, from H2 Empower in 2010 while I was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia working to reburbish an all-boys orphanage. We immediately connected and are now life long friends and 'Ethiopian travel buddies'. We left Addis and headed to Hosanna to work on the Library Project where we met with Community Leaders, Politicians, Building Planners and Parents to discuss the concept and vision of the Community Library (which was foreign to them). On that trip I was able to be a part of a Primary School 'teacher-training'. Hosanna, from its landscape, to its people, to their passion for their community and history is amazing and beautiful! I have been back several times to see the libraries ground breaking, early and final phase of construction, unloading of the books (from the shipping container) and the first movie night (which was a movie from the region in Ge'ez). Seeing the students/children using the library is definately a "full-circle moment" and was very emotional.
I believe H2 Empower Inc. sees a need and then works with the Community, Leaders and other Professionals in the area to help build dreams come true! H2 Empower Inc. does not force change or try to 'Americanize' the change but works with the Community, and Leaders to help empower the future of Hosanna (through education and reading). I saw this first hand with the Library Project, the Teacher-Trainer Programs, Reading Programs and in pushing for education of all children. All promoting the future!
If you visit Hosanna, the capital city of the Hadiya Zone in southern Ethiopia, you won't have to walk too far off the main thoroughfare, running down the center of town, before you come to big green gates that open to a large government school and the newly constructed community library.
This spacious sturdy building and the thousands of books it houses is now the pride of a community that sincerely wants their children to have the benefit of books in their lives. Their desire became the driving passion of Helen Boxwill who created h2Empower after living in Hosanna and teaching at the Teachers' College there.
h2Empower Inc. continues to work with a wide range of stakeholders to enrich learning, teaching and community life in Burundi and Ethiopia. As a board member who has had the privilege of sharing books with the children who gather in the library and working with their teachers in Hosanna classrooms, I am proud to be a part of this small but dynamic organization and grateful for the opportunity it gives me to give back.
I want to take a moment to say how much i appreciated the great effort made by h2 Empower on READING. This is really needy area. It is made in response to the shocking result of EGRA and to promote the CULTURE OF READING in our Community. Her effort especially got me very energized about the road ahead. h2 Empower
made it happen by
• work with local storytellers, cultural experts to run events for the community at the library in local languages
• Use the library to increase English speaking and listening for the whole town
• Getting secondary school students to know how to use the library not just for studying for tests but to find new ideas and expand their horizons
• Training teachers how to use the library for their classes. Co -teaching with them in the the library until they are comfortable to do it themselves
• Using the picture books to teach beginning reading for early primary schools
This is all about my comment for h2 Empower
H2 Empower supports literacy in Ethiopia through the efforts of Director, Helen Boxwill, who completed the building of a library in Hosanna, Ethiopia, complete with books to meet readers of all ages.
During this last year in Ethiopia as a Volunteer, I joined Helen to assist in organizing and cataloguing books in the first public library in the region for children of all ages, along with adults. H2 has built an impressive and enriching environment which will be available for generations to come.
H2Empower is doing amazing work to bring education and sustainable development to rural areas of Ethiopia. I have seen their work firsthand and Executive Director Helen Boxwill builds partnerships with local residents to make sure their needs and wishes are the guiding forces in the projects implemented. I spent time working with Helen in Hosanna and it was transformational. H2Empower has really made a difference in the lives of the school children and families in Hosanna!
Mary Beth Guyther
I have known Helen Boxwill, the president of h2Empower for many years and I am very impressed by what she has accomplished in Hosanna, Ethiopia. She is bringing literacy and sustainability to several communities and making a profound impact on the lives of the people in that area. Most importantly, she understands the cultural context in which she works.
I am honored to know H2 Empower right from the beginning for one of its impact full project was in my country, Ethiopia. I don't think I can have enough words in English to express what I feel about H2 Empower as English is not my language here in Ethiopia. H2 Empower's work down at grassroots level and its community library at Hossiana, one of the remote areas in Ethiopia, is amazing that no one had attempted to do before even if there are so many non profit organizations around here. . H2Empwer is not just for publicity at all, rather its work is to make real, meaningful and sustainable impact in poor community through education. Its work need to expand beyond Hossiana to other villages of of my country and sincerely I appreciate its work and I will continue to support its work.
Country Representative, IFESH/Ethiopia, Ethiopia.