Former Miss Ethiopia holds local dance benefit to address poverty in her native country

Miss Ethiopia 1988, Sehin Belew, is leading a local effort to raise money to aid starvation victims in her home country.

Former Miss Ethiopia, Sehin Belew, will be hosting "Dance For Ethiopia," 8-11 p.m., March 25, at the Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto. Belew, of Los Altos, is organizing the event to raise funds for children in her native Ethiopia.

The dance will be a social affair with a disc jockey playing a variety of music styles, Belew explained. "Like a party," she said. A representative from the non-profit organization Food For The Hungry will be answering questions at a table where information and pictures will be displayed concerning the crisis in Ethiopia.

"I chose Food For The Hungry because only 3 percent of revenue goes to administration costs," Belew said.

While in high school in Ethiopia, Belew volunteered to work as an interpreter for foreign doctors working in her country during the severe famine of the 1980s. "I will never ever forget what I saw there," she said. Ever since, she has been working to help victims of famine and poverty in Africa, as well as volunteering to help the homeless in the United States.

After finishing high school in Ethiopia, she moved to the United States to attend college, graduating with honors from Sterling College in Kansas with a degree in business administration.

In 1988, she was crowned Miss Ethiopia. The Miss Ethiopia pageant that year was organized by the Ethiopian community in the United States and held in Washington, D.C., due to turmoil in Ethiopia. Belew was the first Miss Ethiopia in 20 years. The previous Miss Ethiopia was crowned in her home country by Ethiopian King Haile Selassie.

"For me the biggest victory of this contest was it opened doors for me to talk about a topic that is very close to my heart," Belew said. She has spoken about famine in television, radio and newspaper interviews, and at schools, churches, civic groups, and with the governor of Georgia. Belew has also worked as a model, actress and business owner. She is now a real estate agent in Los Altos.

Tickets for Dance For Ethiopia, available at the door, are $15, about the same as going to a club, Belew said. "Every two tickets a person purchases will support a child for a whole month," Belew said. "We're talking shelter, food, clothing, education and medicine." She said $360 will sponsor a child for a whole year. "My goal is to sell all 500 tickets to sponsor 20 children for a whole year," Belew said.

"If any people have any questions, I'll be there." she said. For more information call 714-3311.

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