The Ellen Show is at it’s best when the hilarious and kind host, Ellen DeGeneres, is in a giving mood (which, happens to be almost every day).
The latest recipient of an Ellen good deed was high school English teacher Ekhlas Ahmed, a refugee from Darfur, Sudan. During a recent broadcast, Ellen read aloud from a letter Ekhlas wrote about how she learned English by watching the daytime talk show.
An emotional Ekhlas sat in the audience listening as Ellen read the brief note before joining her on stage.
“I wanted to write it because I wanted to let you know how I felt,” Ekhlas told Ellen while fighting back tears. “I was a senior in college and I was thinking, besides my parents, who was the person that helped me get here? Who was that person? And I couldn’t think of anybody except for you! So I decided to write you a letter.”
When she was 12 years old, Ekhlas and her family fled Sudan for the United States after the War in Darfur led to the genocide of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
In the decade since her arrival, Ekhlas attended school and became an AmeriCorps ESL teacher at Casco Bay High School in her adopted hometown of Portland, Maine.
“It is so important for me to be there for the students and for me to be a role model for them, because when I was their age, I didn’t have someone that was an immigrant from Africa, an immigrant who went through college and graduated, and didn’t speak English but now is in a classroom in front of them, so I wanted to give them that,” said Ekhlas, her is currently getting her Masters in Education.
In addition to teaching, Ekhlas is also an activist and has spoken at the United Nations about the genocide happening in her home country. Finding a creative way to help the people of Sudan, Ekhlas created a calendar, which features her students and facts about their respective homelands. Proceeds from every purchase go towards building a school in Sudan.
Ellen revealed that the calendar would be made available for purchase in her online shop. Then she dropped a real bombshell.
In a joint effort with Shutterfly, Ellen surprised Ekhlas with a check to cover her grad school debt, a gift totaling $22,000.
Ellen spends many afternoons chatting with the most famous faces in the world, but it’s her generous spirit that makes her a good celebrity.
Photo credit: Ellen Tube