Local doctor gives brighter future to kids in Africa

Changing lives through education

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - What was once merely an idea, has transformed into a life dedicated to service.

Dr. Peter Nalos saves lives through surgery at the Bakersfield Heart Hospital. But in his spare time, he's saving even more.

It all started on a journey to one of his favorite places on earth — Africa.

Beautiful landscapes — some untouched by man — where animals roam free, where mother nature always puts on a show.

From Bakersfield, Africa is 9,000 miles away — isolated from western culture.

Nalos has loved Africa since he was a young boy.

"When I was five years old, we took a boat trip from New York to Genoa and walked through the streets of Gibraltar and that's when I first saw the continent of Africa," said Nalos. 

For years, Nalos enjoyed adventuring on safari hunts, but in the middle of Africa's amazing beauty, he saw a dark reality.

Nalos found himself in a village in rural Ethiopia where living conditions were dire.

"They brought me all of these sick children and half of them were starving to death because their mothers didn't know how to cook them protein — they just ate carbohydrates," recalled Nalos.

There was another issue — in Ethiopia, mothers who commit crimes, must take their children to prison with them. Meaning, some children spend the first 18 years of their lives behind bars.

Nalos says justice was nowhere to be found.

"It's not justice that girls can't walk one mile without being molested," said Nalos. "It's not justice that boys and girls don't have a chance at education." 

Seeing a desperate need for help, Nalos decided to dedicate his life to serving these people. He began by promoting the benefits of education.

Although there were already schools, Nalos felt they did not have the necessary resources.

The first schools were built in 2011.

In class, students began to learn math, geography, amharic— the official language of Ethiopia, English and music.

"Even the ABCs are taught in Ethiopia and these kids are really pretty good at it," said volunteer Pascual Muoz.

Today, more than 30 schools built by Nalos are in session with more under construction. Two teachers, each paid $70 a month, are at every school —  introducing students to a new world of information.

Nalos says the kids are happy to be in class.

For the children in remote areas, an education is an opportunity to survive.

Currently, the Ethipoian culture is changing. Their economy is the fastest growing in the world with their GDP expected to increase 9 percent.

"It's moving — it's gone and we don't want these children to be left behind," Pascual said.

For Nalos, it's a mission to educate the lives of children who don't have access to schools in their region.

"We're just trying to take one step in front of the other," Nalos said. "Where's our next child? Where are we going to build our next school?"

To learn more information or donate to African Children's Schools, visit their website.


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