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Changing Lives, Making a Difference

By: Christine Carpenter, Special to the Independent

There’s selfless acts happening around you; more than you may think. Marla Hodes and her brother-in-law, Dr. Rick Hodes, are proof of that.

Dr. Hodes, a CNN Hero, has spent 30 years volunteering in Ethiopia, dedicating his time to helping children. This selflessness was inspiration behind Laguna Beach resident Marla Hodes establishing in 2006 her non-profit, the Ethiopian Family Fund; also dedicated to helping children in Ethiopia.

This summer Hodes went one step further when pairing with the non-profit organization Mending Kids International.

Marla Hodes took time this week to pass a ball to Kidane and Zelalem at a park in Santa Monica prior to the boys’ doctor appointment.

Marla Hodes took time this week to pass a ball to Kidane and Zelalem at a park in Santa Monica prior to the boys’ doctor appointment.

Last month, 12-year-old twins Kidane and Zelalem arrived in the U.S. for an extended visit. EFF and Mending Kids International have arranged surgeries for them to remedy a birth defect, which is expected to allow them to live a fuller life. The boys each underwent reconstructive surgery on their right hand to separate index fingers fused with their thumbs. Dr. Myles Cohen and Dr. Michael Dellamaggiora at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in West Hollywood, performed the surgery as volunteers. A second surgery on their left hand is scheduled before their departure in October.

“The success of the boys’ trip was a community effort with everyone inside their network, from having someone to be able to communicate with the boys, to having Marla’s support to take care of the twins and make this mission successful, said Caren Niewisch, director for surgical missions for Burbank-based Mending Kids International.

Hodes predicted the operation will be life-changing for the boys. “The surgery would allow them to have more dexterity, be able to write, learn skills for the future, find a job, and be more mobile all around. They used to do shoe shining with their mother, and now they will be able to go out, do more, and make more money for their family.”

Regardless if the boys choose to be shoe-shiners on their return home, at least now they have a choice thanks to these two organizations.

In the meantime, Hodes is already readying for another EFF mission in January. Her goal to raise $25,000 will underwrite 25 open-heart surgeries on children that Dr. Hodes will voluntarily perform at Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

She plans a fundraiser this Saturday, Aug. 24, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at her home in Three Arch Bay. To be added to the guest-list, call 949-230-1443. Donations for the fundraiser can also be made by either mailing a check to: 19 N. Vista De Catalina, Laguna Beach or by donating online at http://www.EthiopianFamilyFund.org.

Photo: Marla Hodes took time this week to pass a ball to Kidane and Zelalem at a park in Santa Monica prior to the boys’ doctor appointment.

 

 

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