There is no denying the charm exuded by Zewdi Reda. The beautiful frame, sweet smile and brown Abyssinian skin, she commands attention. She is not only a being of beauty but a giving soul as well. After making a name for herself during her reign as Ms. Ethiopia-USA in 2001, the beautiful Zewdi, has since used her platform for great causes. Zewdi founded and runs the non-profit organization Have Hope Foundation, which launches initiatives to help poverty stricken, orphaned and abandoned children, due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Ethiopia. She certainly has been on a roll. And there’s no sign she’s ready for a break.
Here, Reda discuses her journey and her future plans with Beera Beero magazine. We hope you enjoy the interview and maybe even get inspired.
1) Can you discuss your nonprofit, Have Hope Foundation?
I started HHF 4 years ago to help HIV/AIDS orphans in Ethiopia. In the last 4 years, I have been going to Ethiopia every year and providing orphan children in Addis Ababa, Sebeta and Mekelle with things such as blankets, pillows, shoes, food, and just recently this year we were able to give 60 girls sanitary pads to last them a year with two underwears each. Currently in addition to helping HIV/AIDS orphans, HHF is starting a program to send a girl to school in rural Ethiopia. Education is almost obsolete in the villages. And girls rarely are expected to get an education. We want to change that one girl at a time. To find out more go to www.havehopefoundation.org
I was inspired to start Have Hope foundation when I went to visit my sister in Addis Ababa. I had not been to Ethiopia since I was five years old. So everything was new to me. I wasn’t expecting Ethiopia to be like America, but I still didn’t know it was going to devastate me that much. I saw so many kids on the streets either begging or selling things they shouldn’t be selling in odd hours of the night. When they should of been sleeping to go to school the next morning. It opened my eyes, that I have to do something to help kids there. But of course it wasn’t possible for me to just help each and everyone of these kids. So I started to ask around and I was advised by many of my close friends that it would be easier to start by assisting the orphanages and go from there. Then once I know the Ethiopian system, I can help all children. So that’s what I did. I came back to the U.S. and wanted to make it legit and opened my own charitable organization call Have Hope Foundation. I wanted those kids to start having HOPE that someone out there cares about them.
What are the greatest rewards?
There are so many rewards in helping others. One time that I can remember in particular is, when I was in Mekelle for few days in one of the orphanages. It was my last night there. It was time for me to say good-bye. As I am getting into the back of the truck, almost all of the girls pulled me out and started hugging me and kissing me saying, “don’t forget us Zewdi, we love you” and they kept kissing me on the cheeks and would not let me go. The driver insisted that we go, because it was getting dark. But I couldn’t leave, I kept crying with happiness from all the love these girls are giving, but sadness filled my heart because I was leaving them. Til this day, it makes me cry. That is rewarding for me. I don’t want awards or any type of recognition. The fact that the kids that I am helping love me and I made a difference in their lives is the biggest reward for me.
Zewdi Reda:A Beauty Queen with a Big Heart
Aside from modeling, what are you most passionate about?
Aside from being a humanitarian and a model, I am also a Personal Fitness Trainer, currently training at 24 Hour Fitness Super Sport as well as privately in my own home gym. Whenever I am free, i am in the gym. I could live in the gym and be happy. Those that know me personally, know that eating healthy and working out are my two other passions.
What inspires you the most? Do you have any favorite quote you try to live by?
Life inspires me. Everyday we wake up to accomplish something, be it working to get a paycheck, going to school to get good grades and eventually a degree, or taking care of our kids. Tomorrow is not promised to us, therefore, we have to live for today. And make today the happiest, and the best ever. So each day I am thankful and want to live it to the best of my ability. I have a big smile on my face no matter what, because God loves me enough to give me the gift of “today”. That being said, my favorite quote would be “Do not swell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment” _Buddha