"You know," says Chantal Miner Carr (BS '92) "I have met orphans who would almost rather go to school than eat. They have an inherent hunger for education—it is the hope of their future, and they know it. I have a responsibility to try and help. I don't always know how, but I have to try."
The co-founder of Hope Arising, a nonprofit organization that works with local leaders in Dera and Addis Ababa to improve health care, living conditions, and education in rural Ethiopia, Carr has always felt driven to serve others—she just never realized it would be on such a large level.
"I went to Ethiopia for the first time in 2008 and they had been without rain for 16 months. They were covered in white dust. There was no water. Children could not attend school because they had to stand in line for water from the government. The tribal leader said, 'We will dig the trenches till we die if it means our children can have water. We just don't have the money for the water project.' Once I knew there was no other organization out there to help them, I had an obligation. So we did something."
Carr and her co-founder, Rochelle Sellers, wrote grant requests and raised funds to earn the last $250,000 the government demanded. Then came the negotiations.
"When things would become really heated and our translator would begin arguing, we would beg to know what they were saying. Our translator would smile and say, 'Oh, they say they like you very much.'" Carr laughs. "I love the Ethiopian people. They are happy. They are deeply religious, and they are generous. If they have access to education and resources, they take care of each other—and each other's children."
Six years later, Hope Arising has achieved more than just clearance for the water project. Its more than 20 miles of piping is leading to a reservoir of fresh, clean water, which will effectively end the drought in Dera. The organization focuses on strengthening families and educating children—working toward a happier, healthier future of Ethiopia. "We are working toward self-reliance," Carr says. "Then they will have the resources they need to take care of themselves."
"I never imagined this," she says. "Not in my wildest dreams. But BYU helps you see your responsibility to help." While at BYU, Carr and her husband attended a study abroad in Chile, where Carr saw poverty for the first time. She returned home committed to helping where she could. Ten years and four children later, the Carrs lost two babies; Carr wanted something to distract her from the mourning and the empty time. She became involved in a nonprofit in Mozambique that educates orphans and distributes labor and delivery kits to midwives, eventually becoming president of the organization and earning a master's degree in nonprofit studies. And then she discovered Ethiopia, and eventually, Hope Arising was born.
"It has not been easy!" says Carr. "But there is always something to keep hope alive. When all doors seem closed, a window cracks open, unforeseen and unexpected. There are incredible people serving and being served. It is an absolute treasure to know the people of Africa. It has been a far bigger blessing to my life and the lives of my children to know the people of Ethiopia than anything we've done to help them. Life surprises you, and it has been so much better than anything I ever dreamed."