Heart Wrenching – A Volunteer’s Experience

If I had to use two words to describe my experience in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it would be heart wrenching.

Heart wrenching to see the level of poverty and homelessness that I could never have imagined before.

Heart wrenching to understand that children and families in Ethiopia are suffering for problems that don’t even exist in North America.

Heart wrenching to see so few resources available for this level of hardship: no food banks, no homeless shelters, no soup kitchens etc.

I feel a lot of love and admiration for the Canadian Humanitarian staff in Ethiopia who work tirelessly every day for the benefit of children and families. They are passionate, resourceful and never give up, even when the children’s situations are complex and challenging. The staff at the Education Centers become extended family for the children and provide an enormous protective factor during the child’s developmental years.


I feel overwhelming love and admiration for the children and their families, who are suffering, yet present as grateful, loving, caring, hopeful, and giving. They will light up a room and our hearts with their beautiful smiles if we let them.


My biggest challenge after arriving home is what to do with the knowledge I have gained from my expedition experience. Luckily, through Canadian Humanitarian, I can continue to work at home to empower and support the children and families of Ethiopia. Kudos to the founders and staff at Canadian Humanitarian who have demonstrated that a long-term investment in the lives of vulnerable children reaps huge rewards.

When people ask me if I’ll go back, my reply is “How can I not?”

Yvonne Brittner

May Expedition Volunteer, Spent 6 weeks in Ethiopia