by WYNNE LOVE | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Abby Friedemann brings relief to children in Mexico

Park Village resident Abby Friedemann’s visits to a Mexica li orphanage near her family’s vacation home have made her count her blessings. Surviving the 7.2 magnitude quake that struck the area in 2010 made her appreciate her good fortune even more.

“Being down in Mexico for the earthquake was one of the most surreal moments of my entire life,” said Abby. “We were dodging glass shattering on the floor and had to literally jump over the widely forming fault lines on the beach – it was by far the longest 30 seconds of my life.”

While Abby was pleased to have survived unscathed, she was keenly aware of the devastation around her. “The most profound moment was seeing tent city where the government was giving out tents and blankets to families whose homes were gone,” said Abby. “I just had an innate feeling that there was some way I could help.”

With the help of her parents, Carl and Sarah Friedemann, her friends and church members, Abby has made multiple trips to donate clothes, sports equipment, time and love to the children in areas most affected by the quake. Last June she returned with 20 church volunteers and they plan to visit again this July. “One trip we brought down $2,300 worth of freeze dried food to the orphanage,” said Abby’s father, Carl. “We probably wouldn’t have done so had it not been for Abby wanting to help.”

Amazingly, Abby feels she is the beneficiary of her good works. “People think that on mission trips all you do is give to those in need,” said Abby, “but for me I feel like you receive so much more in return.”

Abby is a leader at home as well. A senior at Westview, she is on the honor roll, a member of the National Honor Society and a student leader in her church’s youth group. She is also a member of the Westview Dance Troupe. “Dancing is my passion,” said Abby.

Abby loves to write and plans to study Broadcast Journalism at the University of Arizona where she’s been accepted for the fall. She may not be able to visit the kids down in Mexicali as often, but she knows she is leaving the project in the capable hands of her sister, Erika. “I have complete confidence in my sister to carry the trip on,” said Abby. “Erika has such a big heart and I am so excited and proud of the things she has accomplished so far in her life.


 Erika Friedemann follows her sister’s example in service

That day was very strange,” said Erika Friedemann, “but it really changed my life.” Erika was with her sister, Abby, in Mexico when the Easter quake hit in 2010. Like her sister, she learned a lot from the experience and has joined her efforts to help the families affected by the disaster. “We have made multiple trips down to several orphanages and schools,” said Erika, “which really taught me to be thankful for what I have.”

Erika is a freshman at Westview High School. “At Westview I really enjoy all of the freedom and the responsibility I have,” said Erika. Erika’s favorite subject is math and she enjoys sports – playing on the Junior Varsity teams for both field hockey and lacrosse this year. Erika is also an active member in her church’s youth group.

With Abby heading off to college in the fall, Erika is poised to uphold her sister’s commitment to the children and families down in Mexico. “I am really inspired by my sister,” said Erika. “She has such a strong faith, and is really mature and loving. When I get older I want to be like her.”

Erika looks forward to continuing the ministry her sister started back in 2010. “Everyone really wants to see this trip expand to something even more amazing,” said Erika. “Next summer some members from my church will be returning to that orphanage, and we plan to bring them more food, toys and any other supplies they need.”

Erika’s visits to Mexico have helped her find her passion as well. “This experience has inspired me to want to be around kids when I grow up,” said Erika. “I have always wanted to be a teacher, but this experience made it a definite choice.”

[tabs] [tab title =”Sisters At A Glance”]

Names: Abby and Erika Friedemann
Ages:  17. 15
School: Westview High School
Grades: 12, 9
Parents: Carl and Sarah Friedemann

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