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STUTTGART, Germany — The Stuttgart military community recently raised $13,000 that is being used to build a kindergarten in Ethiopia.

“Everyone really rallied around,” said Daniel Mengesha, an Ethiopia native who works as a contract specialist for the 6th Area Support Group in Stuttgart.

The money was raised through private donations and special offerings at Patch Protestant Chapel services.

Last month Mengesha, who volunteers his time to help poor children in Ethiopia, visited the country to see how the kindergarten project was progressing.

“We’ve got a good start,” said Mengesha as he flipped through photographs that showed the foundation and the walls being erected. “A little money can go a long way.”

The kindergarten is being built in a village about 360 miles southwest of the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

Mengesha explained that his country struggles with the deaths and devastation linked to the virus that causes AIDS, as well as employment problems.

Although Ethiopia is a major producer of coffee, world competition keeps wages low for those who work in the industry.

“It’s a hard life,” he said.

The kindergarten requires another $30,000 to be completed, and Mengesha is hopeful another Patch Community Chapel offering on March 14 will help.

Mengesha, with the assistance of missionaries, left his war-torn country when he was a teenager and went to Germany to study. He received scholarships to attend graduate school in the United States and returned to Germany to work for the U.S. government.

For the past 10 years, he has been giving back to the country where his family still lives by asking businesses, nonprofit groups and individuals for money to help improve dirt-poor Ethiopian communities.

In the past decade, Mengesha estimated he has raised more than $500,000, enough to build two schools, a church with a kindergarten and a mill to grind wheat into flour.

The schools have provided vocational training in such areas as automotive repair, sewing and woodworking to children whose parents have been killed in civil wars that have ravaged Ethiopia.

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