Laguna Beach High School Junior Dean Hodes, has travelled around the world quite a bit already, and he’s only 16. He participated in a summer theater program in Telluride, Colorado for many years that toured internationally, including countries such as Turkey, Vietnam, and Chile. But his favorite country is Ethiopia.
Dean and his family have been to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia multiple times.
This year Dean will be flying solo, and spending the year there.
He will be sleeping on the floor, and he will be washing his own clothes in a bucket, but he won’t be alone. He’ll be doing all that with his six adopted cousins, four other children, and his Uncle Rick.
“Dean is interested in the medical part that Rick does,” said Dean’s mom, Marla. “But he loves photography and filming. He hopes to produce a documentary from his experience there.”
His experience will begin first with his uncle, Dr. Rick Hodes.
Known as Dr. Rick, and loved by the thousands of patients he has seen in his 30 years of living in Addis Ababa, Hodes specializes in cancer, heart disease, and spinal deformities. He originally went to Addis on a Fulbright scholarship to teach medicine at their medical college.
Dr. Rick runs a clinic delivering comprehensive medical care just outside the chapel at the Mother Teresa Center, a destination for the poor and gravely sick. He has provided medical care and opportunities for life-saving surgeries, and he’s opened his own home to several young people while they await surgery.
Dean will live in that home too, along with the five Ethiopian orphaned children his uncle adopted so that he could help them with their ongoing health problems, and to attain higher education. These are Dean’s cousins, and now they get to live together like one big family.
“It’s not every kid who gets an opportunity like this,” his mom said.
He was so sure he wanted this opportunity, Dean found and applied to an international baccalaureate (IB) high school that he will attend in just a couple of weeks.
Before school starts, Dean will be photographing for Marla Hodes’ non-profit organization, set up to help Dr. Rick.
A big part of the effort at www.ethiopianfamilyfund.org is to fund the HIV program in Addis Ababa.
Dean will be making photo portraits, and starting on his video with this project.
By Maggi Henrickson