Dubuque students launch viral social media campaign to help Ethi - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque students launch viral social media campaign to help Ethiopian village

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

At precisely 10:30 a.m. Thursday, students in a global studies class at Dubuque's Washington Middle School took to social media to generate a storm of support for Homacho, Ethiopia.

Homacho, according to a video on Washington Middle School's website, is an Ethiopian village of 8,000 people. Through their class and a Dubuque-based non-profit organization called Friends of Homacho, students learned about Homacho's need for clean water and upgrades to its local school.

Thursday morning, students jumped on Twitter and began drumming up support for and awareness of Friends of Homacho, using the hashtag #FriendsofHomacho. Their goal was to raise $1,300 to buy the local school a cement floor, a black board and various school supplies for the Ethiopian students. If they raised $2,000, according to the video, the principal of Washington Middle School, Mark Burns, would have to work from the roof for an entire day.

Don Koppes, a retired teacher from the Dubuque Community School District, founded Friends of Homacho in 2011 with Argaw Oremo, an Ethiopian man who moved to Dubuque around 2009. The two met when Argaw went to the Sisters of the Presentation Lantern Center in Dubuque to improve his language skills. Koppes was a volunteer at the center and grew to become friends with Argaw, eventually inviting Argaw to move into his and his wife's home. The Koppeses traveled with Argaw to his home village of Homacho in 2010 and saw the need for improvements in the community. Argaw and Koppes set up the non-profit Friends of Homacho in August of 2011, helping improve the Ethiopian village's school, housing and access to food and water.

The students and supporters of Friends of Homacho made such a buzz on social media, they managed to get #FriendsofHomacho to trend on Twitter, raising the visibility and viral nature of the cause.

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