Jonah Larson, 14, funds science lab, library and plans more to come
Jonah Larson is a 14-year-old crochet prodigy, who gives back to his village in Ethiopia by creating a GoFundMe on his website and selling his wares online.
He was born in the small village of Durame in southeastern Ethiopia and was adopted when he was six months old. He now lives in La Crosse, in the midwestern US state of Wisconsin, where he discovered his love for crocheting and began sharing his gift with the world.
When Jonah was five, his aunt introduced him to crochet by giving him and his siblings extra craft supplies. They included a ball of yarn and a hook. Then his family members encouraged Jonah to watch YouTube crochet tutorials, which led him to make his first dishcloth, in less than an hour.
Jonah was comfortable making dishcloths, but his mother reminded him of the importance of constantly learning and developing new skills.
At first, Johan was intimidated by the idea of working on new projects. He sees this as a challenge. With practice, however, he began to progress and eventually started his own business, Jonah’s Hands.
“From then on, I fell in love with crochet and how calm it was and all the beautiful things you could do,” says Jonah.
Jonah founded Jonah’s Hands LLC three years ago when he was just 11 years old. From the day his parents adopted him at the age of six, they instilled in him and his siblings the values of giving back to others and doing good in the world. This advice informed the identity of Jonah’s Hands. Today, the company generously supports Jonah’s village and many of the people who live there.
On his website, Jonah offers YouTube tutorials, books, and DVDs that teach crochet. He also sells items, such as tea towels, blankets, booties, scarves and hats on the website’s GoFundMe page to raise money for philanthropy.
So far, Jonah has raised around $25,000. With this money, he was able to open the very first library and a scientific laboratory in Durame. With many other projects underway, people recognize Jonah’s contributions.
“I love to read. I started reading when I was just three years old,” says Jonah. “Sometimes I think of Ethiopia, where I was born, and the very rural area where the children didn’t have much, not even a book. It makes me sad and I find it hard to imagine a life without books and without stories.”
The area’s premier library, Jonah’s Library, contains over 3,000 books. Its trained librarian tutors help over 2,000 students, including older students who are falling behind.
The Teza Gerba school science laboratory is the first of its kind in Durame. It provides microscopes, glasses and other basic scientific equipment.
The Ethiopian government has recognized an instructor at the science lab, Ato Meharu. He awarded him a gold medal for teaching excellence on National Teachers’ Day 2020-2021. Such an achievement is practically unknown in Durame.
Jonah is working on his next project: proper restrooms for students. Jonah says this project is starting to move forward but will need another $5,000 in donations before it can be completed. After this project, Jonah hopes to continue raising funds for a myriad of other services.
Jonah was unable to visit the village where he was born, but he is hopeful and excited, however, by the possibility that he may return one day soon to see the impact of his philanthropy in person.
When asked for his advice on people hoping to learn crochet today, Jonah said, “It won’t be super easy, it won’t be child’s play, but you always have to keep trying. , and the result will be the best.”