Mountain travelers raise money for Ethiopia trip


From left, Luke Taliaferro, Wouter De Wet, Rachel Fassino, Maddie Beairsto, Aaron Pierce, Stephen McGinnis and Jock Dunbar host a car wash to raise money for Project DestaNation. Contributed Photo

In preparation for their fall-break journey to Ethiopia, Project DestaNation, enthusiastic local travelers and philanthropists are already hard at work raising funds for their trip.

The group that will travel to Africa consists of eight students and a handful of adults who will spend Oct. 15-25 in Ethiopia visiting Desta Bume, an Ethiopian student who spent the 2008-2009 school year studying at Signal Mountain Middle/High School and living with the family of Jock and Megan Dunbar. They will also spend time traveling Desta’s home country and plan to visit orphanages, hospitals and perhaps the world’s largest outdoor market. “I think we’re going to hit on all aspects of life there,” said Megan Dunbar, who will lead the trip with her husband and SMMHS counselor Leslie Sharpe. Her father-in-law, Jim Dunbar, will also go on the trip.

It’s not all about tourism for the group, however, as they will be delivering quilts to children who have AIDS or have been orphaned by AIDS in Ethiopia’s capital city, Adis Ababa. It is the weight of the quilts that will be the most costly part of their trip, according to Megan Dunbar.

To raise money to ship the heavy quilts, the seven SMMHS students are selling Project DestaNation T-shirts and Signal Mountain Cookie Lady cookies and auctioning off quilts at SMMHS home football games. They will also sell Chattanooga dining guides and will host car washes during September and October, though specific dates have yet to be determined.


For more information on how to get involved in raising funds for Project DestaNation, visit the Signal Mountain Middle/High School Web site and click on the “Water for Wotera” Wells Update link.

“This has been a really great way to get community service hours,” said SMMHS public relations volunteer Leslie Briggs, noting that the kids are required to log a certain number of hours as part of the International Baccalaureate candidate process.

The group will also have the opportunity to visit Desta’s village where wells were repaired and built using money that SMMHS students and Desta raised during last year’s Water for Wotera project.

“It’s definitely Desta that got everybody inspired to do this project by building wells for fresh water,” said Briggs. “There were so many people that were touched by him to get those wells built and help the people in Ethiopia.”


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