David Cook: Ethiopian Idol

American Idol winner talks about visiting Ethiopia to help the United Nations Foundation

By Breanne L. Heldman Mar 31, 2010 4:38 PMTags

David Cook inspired young ladies in the United States to pick up the phone and dial when he won the seventh season of American Idol. Now he's working on empowering the women of Ethiopia.

The crooner is currently in the African country on a mission on behalf of the United Nations Foundation. He's visiting their Biruh Tesfa (Bright Future) Project, which works to educate and inspire girls in the hopes of putting an end to poverty and women winding up in sex trades.

"This has been one of the most enlightening and fulfilling experiences I've been able to be a part of," he says in a conference call from the school. "You realize very quickly that it's not that hard to want to help...Maybe just looking at this problem a little differently would be a major inroad."

His visit, which will be featured on the Idol Gives Back special on April 21, included getting to know some of the girls at the school. He clearly was moved by a certain 7-year-old living whose parents had both passed away.

"She is one of the most vibrant, joyous girls I think I've ever met," he says. "The girls at this school genuinely want to learn. They want to have an education and they want to have that opportunity. To see a 7-year-old girl want to make a better future for herself is incredible...These girls are wise beyond their years because they've had to be."

Cook says he hopes this active outreach experience will be one of many and his desire to get involved came during his own participation in Idol Gives Back as a contestant on the show.

"We all snuck up to the balcony and got a chance to watch from the front of the house Annie Lennox's performance," he recalls. "In the background, they were showing images of children…and it just tore me apart. To have that kind of visual moment where everything kind of clicks…It really puts you in the position where you want to help…I was just chomping at the bit to be a part of Idol Gives Back."

The 27-year-old has no doubt the lessons he's learned over the past few days will inform his future...and his music.

"[It's impossible] to not be moved by it and not be changed by it," he says. "Girls that don't get an education here are immensely more likely to fall into the sex trade…I would almost say it's a definite that it'll find its way back [into my music]."


David's not the only one giving back. Check out all the Do-Gooders filling our gallery!