In 2019, Zawge volunteered with African Library Project to collect books to start a library in Malawi and his drive ultimately collected a total of 1,100 books! As the book drive organizer, Zawge’s experience went beyond the books collected. He created relationships with those he worked with and the community he was working to serve, while impacting their lives by working to expand their access to books.

Zawge has always had a heart for helping others, “My purpose in life is to use what I have learned to help others… One day, my goal is to establish pro-bono clinics in areas of poverty.” 

He attributes this passion to his parents, who were always working to help those in need. “My parents constantly told me stories about their journey into America and the assistance they received from family and friends to ensure their transition went smoothly. Now as successful pharmacists, they give back to their community in Addis Ababa and help family members in need. As I grew older, I took on this mentality and sought out ways I could volunteer to improve one’s current situation.”

When he heard about the African Library Project from his cousin, his passion for helping others led him to volunteer to run a book drive for Malawi. He shared how the experience wasn’t always easy, but it was rewarding. “One challenging aspect of the book drive was having to haul dozens of books in trash bags from school to my house. Yet, despite the aching pain I felt in the morning, it was always accompanied with happiness.” 

He also worked hard to make sure everything was done efficiently, but made sure he still enjoyed his time, “I enjoyed calculating and rearranging the books in different ways, so I could maximize the boxes’ volume (sorry, I am a math nerd).” 

His experience also taught him that, “volunteering truly does expose you to like-minded people who may become life-long friends.” Through this project, Zawge expanded his relationships with people in his own community.

His time volunteering with African Library Project allowed him to positively impact education in an impoverished community in Malawi, and it also allowed him to connect with those people. “They (African Library Project) allow you to connect to others in different parts of the world and learn about their background and culture…. In my personal experience, I felt that a unique bond is formed between me and the students at the school and that it was my duty to provide these children with educational material.” He was able to build a connection with those in his own community as well as the community he was helping in Malawi. 

Zawge encourages future volunteers, “Do not hesitate to ask anyone for help…. the worst thing they say to you is no.” 

Zawge’s service not only provided important educational tools to a community in Malawi, but it also gave him a meaningful experience. “One of my favorite memories of volunteering was meeting people of all ages who want to contribute to alleviating the educational burden in third world countries.”