One of the most interesting projects that Sarah Clifford will be tackling is measuring children’s feet for “TOMS” — shoes provided for impoverished children.

By Kimberly Albrecht |

Africa. The Dark Continent. Mysterious, huge, intimidatingly complex. Especially with the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus, Africa might not be one’s first pick for adventure, let alone a “study abroad.” But that’s exactly what Barrington born and bred college student Sarah Clifford, daughter of Brian and Carolyn, selected!

Sarah Clifford, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, recently departed to Ethiopia as part of the requirements for her minor in global health studies. She is currently double majoring in biology and life science communications, and her journey is part of a field course in biodiversity, food systems and health.

“She wanted to travel to a country that was completely unlike home, and where she could make an impact, so the opportunity to go to Ethiopia seemed like the perfect experience,” said her mother, Carolyn.

From a parental perspective, such an undertaking often comes with warning signs: “When she first applied for this opportunity, it was just as the Ebola outbreak had occurred, so at first, both my husband and I thought it seemed risky,” said Carolyn. “But we applauded her for wanting to have a meaningful experience and completely supported her decision. Anthony Bourdain had recently filmed an episode of his show, ‘Parts Unknown’ in Ethiopia which we had a chance to watch with Sarah Clifford before she left. I think it gave us all more peace of mind, having now learned more about the country, its culture and its food. There is a lot of hope and opportunity in Ethiopia despite the challenges the country has historically faced, and I believe Sarah Clifford will come back with a new appreciation for the challenges some of the world faces with feeding its citizens.”

The trip will include visits to and stays in Addis Ababa, Yetebon, Oromia, Lake Abajata Shala, Hawassa, Wolayta, Shashamene and Lake Langano.

One of the most interesting projects that Sarah Clifford will be tackling is measuring children’s feet for “TOMS” — shoes provided for impoverished children. According to their website, TOMS Shoes, LLC, is an organization that helps provide “shoes, sight, water, safe birth and bullying prevention services to people in need.”

Since its inception in 2006, from “Nepal to Kentucky,” TOMS has helped more than two million children by protecting them from hookworm via medication and TOMS Shoes provided by their Giving Partners. Through these donations, children receive shoes, jobs are created because they establish manufacturing and sourcing in the home country; social enterprises are established; programs are integrated to increase access to “health, education and well-being,” investments aid in the “eradication of diseases” and the creation of “cause-related products to support and raise money for organizations around the world.”

She will also study maternal and child nutrition, community and agricultural development, food safety and sanitation, and various environmental and economic concerns, as related to Ethiopia.

Despite the inherent risks involved with this stimulating learning experience, Carolyn is excited about her daughter’s experience: “It should be a trip of a lifetime for her.”

God’s Speed to Sarah Clifford throughout her incredible adventures in Africa!

Source: Chicago Tribune
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