In the mountains of Addis Ababa, former street kid Israel Degene watched the kids of the village play. As they slid down the asphalt with scraps of plastic fixed to the bottoms of their shoes, Israel was inspired to bring skateboarding to this particularly tough neighborhood. And so Ethioskate was born.
Now, every morning, the hand made wooden ramp comes out as the sun rises and kids from miles around come to skate on it. Skating empowers these children, who are exposed to bad influences, including drugs and alcohol, and Israel sets a positive example for them. Ethioskate has created new opportunities and given them the opportunity to change previous bad behavior, such as stealing.
It was this setting, a crowd of kids armed with skateboards, surrounding their ramp, that caught the eye of Aaron, Blake and Simon, who were in Ethiopia shooting another project. Israel’s efforts to inspire these kids inspired our trio, who asked to make a film with him and have since made a website and logo for his cause to help spread the world of his organization. Israel hopes to duplicate Ethioskate in other villages and build skateparks all over Ethiopia.
Since making the video with the help of Steve and Ben, Tom has also helped Israel build a small website and Steve has worked on a logo for him, and all of us here at Across the Pond are proud to be a part of his wonderful organization.
To find out more about this great project, head over to http://ethioskate.tumblr.com/video, which also features more photographs that we took as well as some inspirational quotes from Israel.