By Paige Kieffer |

Holy Family Catholic High School will be returning to Ethiopia for a fourth service trip involving over a dozen high school students and staff who will be teaching and bringing supplies to Bisrate Gabriel School in Dire Dawa June 13 to July 5.

Victoria’s Holy Family Catholic High School Campus Minister and Assistant Principal John Dols said he previously took students to their sister school in Ethiopia in 2009, 2011 and 2013. They have worked with two Lasallian Sister schools in Ethiopia, including St. John Baptist de la Salle in Addis Ababa and Bisrate Gabriel in Dire Dawa.

Former Holy Family Catholic High School student Emily Kirsch teaches children at the Bisrate Gabriel School in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia in 2013.

Former Holy Family Catholic High School student Emily Kirsch teaches children at the Bisrate Gabriel School in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia in 2013.

Dols helped get Holy Family Catholic School involved in the service trips by registering the school for the Lasallian Christian Brothers School’s Twinning Program, which encourages school districts to aid those most in need. The United States launched the program in 1995, acting on a call to financially assist economically poor districts and new districts that were forming. The schools in the United States have been assisting school districts in Kenya, Nigeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia and South Africa.

For this year’s service trip, Dols, Holy Family teacher and Dean of Academic Support Melissa Livermore, and St. John the Baptist Catholic School language arts teacher Chris Parker will be traveling with the Holy Family students to work at the Bisrate Gabriel School, where they will be teaching math and English.

“We have taken 43 students to Ethiopia,” Dols said. “Each experience has been slightly different and each student has had a different take away from the trip.”

He said these trips have inspired many of his students to learn about international issues and study and volunteer abroad.

Dols said one of the most rewarding experiences came during the first service trip, when he received a tour from the Mother Theresa’s order, the Sisters of Charity. The sisters were running an orphanage for children HIV/AIDS in Addis.

“They gave us a tour, which was awesome and heart wrenching all at the same time,” he said. “They told us that because of the anti-viral drugs that they were getting from the United States that no child had died in the last year. They told us that the orphans were making jewelry and scarves to pay their way to school, which was new, because previously they would not have lived long enough to make it to school. After spending a lot of money in that store, it left an impression on all of us.”

Dols said these service trips do not just impact the students who go there, but also the whole of Holy Family Catholic High School.

“Selfishly, or closer to home … bringing the experience back to the students at Holy Family [is important],” he said. “We have this wonderful sister school in Ethiopia, and it is not easy for many of our students to relate to people that are half way across the globe. This experience brings them a step closer.”

This year St. John the Baptist Catholic School, K-8, will be assisting Holy Family’s service trip during their Lenten projects. Dols contacted the school in Ethiopia, and they said they are in need of soccer balls, basketballs, table tennis balls and sports uniforms. A fundraiser officially started on Feb. 10, or the start of Lent.

“Many of our kids have several soccer balls,” Parker said. “I think the kids think that the equipment is a thing that kids normally don’t need or want but that’s not the case. This really teaches kids that not everyone is as fortunate, and we shouldn’t take what we have for granted.”

She said that she would be reaching out to Tonka United and other local organizations to assist with the fundraiser.▄ (Contact Paige Kieffer at

Source: Sun Sailor
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