On January 2015, the Meek School of Journalism and New Media sent ten students on a reporting trip to Ethiopia. These students compiled their stories and photographs into a depth report for the Meek School of Journalism. HottyToddy.com is featuring each story in the in-depth report once a week.
In 2001, at the height of the AIDS crisis in Africa, Andrew and Bev Warren noticed something missing. There was an important focus on AIDS and HIV prevention, but not much being done to care for people who already had AIDS and were sick and dying, and their families.
Bev Warren, born and raised in Cleveland, Mississippi, and Andrew Warren, a Tennessee native and former journalist, went to work to do something about it.
“We started meeting with families to try to figure out how we could help,” Andrew Warren said. “The neediest people were women who were infected by a partner. The partner died, and there was no support for her or for her children. That became our target audience. How to help with rent, food, school fees for the kids, support groups, short-term medical teams.”
Neither of the Warrens is a medical doctor. “I have a Boy Scout merit badge in first aid,” Andrew said, laughing.
Warren first went to Kenya to teach journalism. In the 1980s, he and Bev went to Ethiopia and Somalia. They returned to the United States and Andrew received a graduate degree in development management at American University.
Bev Warren said she grew up in Mississippi in a family “that taught me to care about the people around me and be aware of needs and respond by sharing the resources that I had been blessed with. …When I met Andy in college, his sense of adventure combined with our mutual desire to serve the needy were big factors in us looking into international service.”
The Warrens returned to Ethiopia in 1996 to lead projects with Mission to the World and SIM (Serving in Mission), international church-centered organizations.
When anti-retroviral medicines and therapy became available, they started working with the World Health Organization and other agencies. Later, they turned the treatment programs over to the Ethiopian government.
This year, Ethiopia ACT is registering as a nonprofit and expanding to new communities. The organization is partnering with a dozen churches in Addis Ababa, leading to short-term teams of doctors to do clinics in churches.
Ethiopia ACT has helped 1,200 families, and more than 1,500 children, Andrew Warren said. He focuses now on fundraising and administrative work, and program coordinator Teddy Alamayehu “makes everything happen” in Ethiopia. The Warrens return to the United States once or twice a year to visit family.
“I think one of the greatest rewards in our 12 years of working in this project, for me, has been the privilege of seeing so many of the extremely ill HIV positive single moms who came into the project before the availability of anti-retroviral drugs be able to regain their health and live full lives,” Bev Warren said. “They’ve been there to raise their children and many of them have even seen their children graduate from high school and get accepted into college. This pretty much guarantees their escape from extreme poverty since their children will have a better opportunity for employment and will have resources to care for their parent.”
Article courtesy of Meek School of Journalism and New Media. For questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.