Sep 28

9 New Families!!

I am happy to announce that we have the privilege and honor of partnering with 9 New Families!   These Moms deeply love their children and we count it great joy that they have continually done whatever it took in order to keep their children.

Now, as we walk together, our prayer is that they can move towards a more sustainable situation while continuing to care for their own child.

Their situations range broadly.   We have one child who was referred to us by a hospital after having extensive leg surgery.  Others were found begging along the roadside.  Others showed up at our gate, like dozens of others who do so everyday, in hopes that we could partner with them to help them keep their children.

All of them are courageous moms who have made sacrifices to keep their kids because of their deep love for them.

We’ve posted a bit of information about all of them at www.EmbracingHopeEthiopia.com/sponsorships/  with the promise to post more information as their profiles are completed.

Please pass the word and help us to find sponsors for all of these families.  For now, here are their photos!

Kalkidan and Hareg

Mehalet and Yetayesh

Yeabsera and Medihanete

Besufekad and Enanu

Elbetel and Asnakech

Behimnet and Yenenesh

Biru and Mestawot

Enchalew and Shashe

Mahelet and Habtam

Thank you for partnering with us and with these new families!  Our project is now officially full and we covet your prayers as we look at the next chapter for EHE!

 

Aug 19

EHE Kindergarten is ready…here is how you can help!

We’re almost ready to open the EHE Kindergarten in September.   The slide and merry go round are purchased.  The desks are on order.   Rooms are being moved around and soon teachers will be hired.  It is getting exciting!!

Some of the children who will be learning in the KG

Today I wanted to share with you some photos as well as get some info to you…
  1. What is the EHE Kindergarten?  Here in Ethiopia, Kindergarten is required in order to proceed on to 1st Grade.  However, because often times Kindergartens are private, it means that the poor are unable to afford Kindergarten and therefore cannot send their children to 1st Grade when it is time.  Kindergartens have also become a business model where many times the education and care are not of a high quality, but rather it is a business strategy.  Therefore, we are starting our own Kindergarten that will serve the kids enrolled in EHE and provide them with a quality education.

Children will continue to receive Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, all day care, clothing,  medical care, etc.  The Moms will also continue to receive supports as before.   The  only real change so far is that they will now also have an in- house, licensed formal education. 

 

2.  What Ages will you serve?  At first we will have a Nursery School class (for those age 3 – 4) and a Kindergarten 1 Class (for those ages 4 – 5) .   The children will be required to pass a government mandated exam in order to enter Nursery and then another exam in order to proceed to Kindergarten 1.   Our dream is then to grow the school with the children enrolled in EHE each year by adding another Grade level.  So next year we hope to offer KG 2, then the next year Grade 1 and on and on.

 

3. How will you staff it? Are you licensed?   Each class will have a Teacher and an Assistant Teacher.  In addition we will have a Head Teacher / Administrator and our support staff (cooks, cleaners, etc.) in addition to a Social Worker and Nurse.  Yes, we are licensed by the Kebele Education Department in addition to our license as an NGO.

 

4. What about the Day Care? The Day Cares will continue as in the past, except now at age 3 or 4 the children will

Our instructor, Zabesh, who has been giving Pre-KG learning to the Day Care children already.

enter into Nursery School.  It still will be a lot of learning by play, but in addition to formal learning.  It is similar to what we have been doing with education in the Day Care, but now in a formal, licensed way.   At the same time, every time we bump a child up into KG, we’ll fill his or her spot with a new young child  in need of Day Care.  So, this will actually give us more capacity to serve the very vulnerable young children and moms.

 

5.  What is the Bigger Picture?  The bigger picture is that we’ll now be able to walk a longer way with the families whom we serve.  As the children start to KG, we’ll start to wean the families off of some of the services we provide in order to enable them to stand on their own feet.   This gives us an opportunity to continue to encourage them and provide an education to children, while acknowledging that to continue an intensive intervention for too long could result in dependency.

 

How Do I Get Involved?  Right now there are 3 primary ways we can use your support.

  1. Pray for us as we launch.  We need your prayers.
  2. Give a one time donation.  You can help us by giving a personal donation, or better yet help us spread the word through Facebook  and even start your own Giving Campaign towards this work.   By inviting your friends to join in you are helping to prevent orphans and preserve families, while at the same time ensuring that children get a great start to their education.

We have a number of non-budgeted expenses to provide for, such as:

a. Play Ground Equipment (required by the authorities for licensing).  We now have purchased a slide and merry go round.    Cost:  $700 USD.

Our Shiny New Sliding Board!

A Merry Go Round waiting for the children.

 b.  Desks / Tables for the children to work at.   You’ll see from the photos that they now are on the floor working.  We have tables on order.  Cost: $2,000 USD (Approx.)

Your help in buying desks means the kids have a space to work at.

c.  Floor Covering for the School.  Cost: $200 USD.
d. Play Ground Area Prep Work .  Cost $100 USD.
e. Classroom Materials – Chalk Board and Assorted Materials.  Cost $200 USD.
3. Consider Family Sponsorship.   Your sponsorship of a family helps us in two ways.  The one is that it provides for a family in the project.  At the same time it helps us to make room for new families to come into the project.  We always are adding new families by faith, so your sponsorship gives us encouragement to take another step in helping other families.
As always, thank you for the amazing support that you provide us here at Embracing Hope Ethiopia!

Aug 07

Announcing the One Child Campaign 2014 Ethiopia Trip

If you have been thinking about visiting Ethiopia and Embracing Hope Ethiopia, here is a great opportunity for you to consider.

Our great friends over at One Child Campaign just released their Summer 2014 trip. The dates are July 21 – 31. This is an opportunity for you to not only visit Embracing Hope, but also you will have a chance to visit a number of other amazing organizations working here in Ethiopia.

If you would like to hang out a bit longer at EHE, we are able to work together with One Child to have you add a couple of days onto your trip.

For now, check out the One Child Campaign’s Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/events/430655217054375/ for more info about this great opportunity.

Jul 22

When you know that God is with you…a driving close call.

Anyone who has visited Ethiopia knows that at times driving here can feel a bit dicey. City traffic is one thing as you feel cramped for space, but driving outside of the city comes with its own risks.

One road is well known for its share of fatal accidents. There are times where we drive the stretch of road from Addis to Mojo and will see 3 or 4 terrible accidents that had not yet been removed, all within a mere 70 kilometers of road. This two lane road that has trucks moving and passing at high speeds into oncoming lanes has meant that we never travel this road after dark. It is just too dangerous and many people have become statistics on it.

Last week we had our own close call. We were traveling back from the South, having had a meeting about our adoption when I saw the semi truck barreling down on us in my lane. I did the customary, flashing of my lights at him and started to slow down so that we could get back into his lane of traffic after passing someone. He squeezed back into his lane, no problem.

But I never saw the pickup truck coming that was tailgating him.

And there we were in slow motion, watching as a pickup truck was coming straight for us. I flashed my lights at him and he flashed his at me. My lights. His lights. My lights. His lights. I continued to slow as much as I could and ran off of the road onto the shoulder just as he locked up his brakes and collided into the back 6 inches of the Land Cruiser. The driver of the pickup was driving like an idiot, but God protected us and him.

Praise God we did not even feel a jolt. No one was hurt. Not even a scratch or a bruise. A small dent and a bit of scratched paint on the Land Cruiser. No problem. A bit shaken. Okay, I was shaken a lot more than a bit.

A close call. Way too close. However, God was with us. His hand was on that whole situation. He either moved the pickup or he moved us, because the sheer physics of the situation did not add up. He protected our growing family and also the driver of the pickup.

We are grateful to God…and I think I may avoid driving that road for some time.

Jul 06

Announcing EHE’s partnership with Poverty Cure!

We are pleased to announce Embracing Hope Ethiopia’s membership in the Poverty Cure Partner Network.  We are honored to be part of this network that focuses on partnering with the poor in ways that restore dignity to see cycles overcome.

Poverty Cure is an international coalition of over 230 organizations spanning 143 countries.

We support PovertyCure’s Challenge & Vision of partnership-based solutions to poverty that challenge the status quo and champion the creative capacity of the human person. Poverty Cure has a wealth of resources available to help small groups, churches, business groups and organizations to rethink poverty.

For more information about Poverty Cure and the resources they have available to help educate all of us on how to address poverty, follow the link below:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kCddvVkhYF8AkejbuOfvzYqRBnuGheAZNPW3eEOMS_M/pub

Jun 22

6 Ways to Make your Summer Mission Trip Incredibly Amazing.

So you are ready to go on a Mission Trip this summer.  Congratulations! We know that these short term trips have life changing potential when done right.   As an organization who hosts teams 2 – 3 times per week for tours in our Day Cares, I wanted to share with you what (in our opinion) separates an incredibly amazing team from those that left a less favorable impression.

Since you are making a huge investment of time, money and energy to come half way around the world, you want to be incredibly amazing, right?

 

1. Be willing to serve the true needs identified on the ground.

Now that you have fundraised and shared the great things that you will be doing in Africa with those back home, it can be easy to feel pressure to make big things happen.  Honestly, the greatest impact you can make is simply by serving the true needs that the organizations on the ground have identified.  Think of yourselves as paratroopers who are parachuting in to bring a new round of encouragement, vision, supplies and training to those who do this work day after day.  This may mean that the greatest needs are praying for a missionary family, babysitting, encouraging staff by listening, scrubbing floors or training a nurse. You are not coming to be “kept busy.”   Listen to what the organizational needs are and then humbly try to serve in those ways.   It doesn’t always make for the best newsletters, but the impact you truly are making is beyond words.

 

2.  Take time to become educated on poverty issues before leaving home.  LIsten to the complexity on the ground.

It is important to know something about poverty before you come to serve.  It will still surprise you and catch you off guard.  More importantly, recognize your own poverty before getting on the plane.  Tons of harm has been done because well meaning groups have come to try to rescue those in poverty.  A better position is to see that its a complex issue that has no easy solutions.  You get to be part of the solution, perhaps, but it only comes by understanding how big the issue is, how it is not easily addressed in 10 days and being humbly submitted to those who deal with the complexity daily in thought out and planned ways.  Read books like “When Helping Hurts” to get an introduction into why poverty is so complex and has no easy solutions that can be solved quickly.

 

3. Be sensitive to the ministries you are serving with.

Always remember that you are a guest.  If there are house / organizational rules, please follow them.  Be concerned about any choices that could have lasting negative implications and talk them through with organizations before making those choices.   As a foreigner, others are watching you – constantly.  Also, please be on time.  We know that its fun to say “We’re on Africa Time,” but I’ll be honest and say that there is nothing fun about that for organizations who have to rearrange  their staff because you came at a different time than expected.   Time is just as precious here in Africa as it is in America.  Simply be an example of what is considerate, servant-hearted and respectful.  It goes a long way.

 

4.  No Complaining. No comparing. 

On one of the first mission trips I took I was instructed that there was no room for complaining.  Fleas in a bed. Mosquitos. Lumpy Beds. Dirty Rooms. Dogs. Loud Calls to Prayer.  No water. Terrible Food. Lousy internet.  It didn’t matter – No complaining.  I know that it can be hard to not get the best night’s sleep or to live without McDonalds, ice cream and Mountain Dew for 10 days, but you can do it.   Complaining shows a lack of respect to the culture you are visiting.  Try to suck it up and live with it.  If you can’t suck it up then talk it out with your Team Leader or the Organization leader, but please don’t complain in front of the people you have come to serve.  You are their guest.  At the same time, comparing what you see here to what you are used to back home is not fair either.  Afterall, you’ll be back in Dulles Airport again soon and your first stop can be McDonalds, so try to enjoy the cultural experience and put another piece of injera down the hatch.

 

5. Bring your enthusiasm.

One of the greatest gifts you have to bring with you is your enthusiasm to see people come to know Jesus and to see poverty addressed in His Name.  Sometimes those of us in the field can become hardened and cynical.  We have good days and bad days.  We’ve watched things unravel numerous times, fought hard to keep doing what we’re doing, cleaned up messes and watched people hurt us.  We also deal with the poverty, that you find overwhelming, every single day.   We need your breath of life.  We need your passion.  We need your faith filled encouragement.  We need your enthusiasm that Jesus definitely is who He said He is and He is working among the poor.

 

6.  Let your heart and your wallet be captivated.

After you have served somewhere, consider giving to help support that organization.  You liked what you saw, right?  You were impressed and couldn’t stop talking about how much you loved it.  Now, let what captivated your heart also captivate your wallet.   The greatest need typically on the ground is funding.  Many organizations hire local staff to be the experts in care, but they remain dependent on funds to keep paying them.  God gave you the privilege to see something.  Now, as someone who has seen there comes an opportunity to be a blessing by helping to raise awareness and see that organization continue to be supported long after you are gone.

 

In your opinion, what other ways do teams leave a lasting impact?  i’d love to hear.

 

Have a wonderful short term trip.  I pray that God uses it in a very deep way in your life!

Jun 14

Joy.

While I could write a thousand words about the joy we see in Moms and their Children as their families stay together, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?   So, here are photos of a number of our Moms with their kids.  Their love is contagious.  Their commitment is amazing.  And their joy is bubbling up!  If you have not yet gotten the privilege to  sponsor a family,  go to www.embracinghopeethiopia.com/sponsorships/

 

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Apr 23

Look What God Has Done – Celebrating 2 years!

Embracing Hope recently celebrated our 2nd Birthday.  Two years ago we welcomed the first 20 children into the first floor of our house to love on them and try to provide them and their Moms with a tangible hope.

Behimnet in 2011 when we opened.

Behimnet today.

To be honest with you, we had no idea what we were in for.  We had a tiny bit of money in the bank.  We had government approvals in hand.  Many people were skeptical and to top it all off,  we had no family sponsors and no idea if this idea was even going to work.

Would moms accept the idea?  Would we ever have the

capacity to address some underlying issues?  Could a cycle truly be broken? Could we find staff that could embrace the Moms and children where they were and demonstrate love, mercy and grace toward them? Could we impact Moms not only physically but also emotionally, intellectually, relationally and spiritually?

The original Day Care room in our home.

We started with 2 caregivers (one of them being Christy), a social worker, a part time bookkeeper and a cook, which meant that our kids were picking up the slack on those first weeks.  We tried to make the place special and worked hard at trying to create an inviting and welcoming atmosphere for these Moms and Children who typically were forgotten and cast off.  But, could it really work?

The bottom line is that this never was our idea to begin with.  It seemed as if God was opening up this venture that we were simply being invited to join in.  It would prove to be the ride of our life and one that He has used to bring Himself glory over and over.

Two years later Embracing Hope Ethiopia looks so much different. Our number of children has grown to 114 and 107 moms.  Our staff has grown to 41 staff people.  We are now in 2 Day Care centers – and no longer in our home.  We now serve just shy of 500 meals (including snack) per day.  The organization is daily run on the ground by an Ethiopian staff who care deeply for the moms and the children that we serve.

Tigist almost 2 years ago.

Tigist now. She was number 1 in her school class last semester!!

We now have Moms who have built deep community with each other, the kind that makes sure that others do not go without and who care when suffering comes.   We have Moms who have started their own micro businesses.  We have Moms who have come to know Jesus.  We have Moms who have found better jobs than working in the dump.  We have children who are starting school and are at the top of their class.  We have children who would not have been alive had it not been for someone being there to care for them.  We have moms learning to read and write for the first time in their lives.  We have Moms who for the first time in their lives are not having their dignity robbed daily through begging and prostitution.  We have Moms on HIV medication so that they will be around for their children long term.   We have Moms who are still incredibly poor, yet they now have hope and are not alone.

We even have a few moms who have become so successful that we are dreaming of ways to graduate them from the program!  We have local and sub-city government cooperation – they keep giving us glowing reports.   We have a large number of moms who have saved at least one month’s salary.  We have healthy kids who are now able to learn and thrive.

We have families that are intact – Moms with their own children.  Orphans prevented.  Families Preserved.

All that these Moms needed was someone to walk alongside of them.  They were looking for a way out, an opportunity, a bit of a break.  Many of them were praying that somehow someone could intervene.   And then God led them to us and us to them.

Sintayehu 2 years ago.

Sintayehu now.

And now in this next year we are dreaming of ways to further our education of our children, increasing tutoring and providing after school care.  We are looking for ways to stay engaged in the lives of the children as they reach Age 6.  We can’t just turn off the partnering.  Not yet.  So, we’re looking at ways that we’ll be able to walk longer term with the family by providing reduced levels of support.  And as we do that, we’ll be freeing up more slots in the Day Cares to care for more families on an intensive level.

What a ride it has been.  An incredible, awesome, beyond the imagination kind of ride.  At times it seemed we could not take one step further, yet God had other plans.  He has given us the strength and the vision.  And we are a bit giddy when we sit back and see what He has done and is doing.

However, I would be remiss if I did not point out two incredible assets that God has provided to get us to this point.

  1. God has given us an amazing on the ground staff and an incredible Board of Directors both in Ethiopia and in the US.  These are people who care about the poor and who are willing to sacrifice on behalf of the least, the last and the lost.   They demonstrate Jesus to us, and to Moms and Children daily.

 

  1. God has given us the most wonderful supporters anyone could ever dream of.  People who sacrifice themselves to give toward family sponsorships and support our missionaries and the general expenses of the organization.  People who pray hard for breakthroughs.  God has provided through you abundantly.  This has allowed us to truly focus on serving people in need who come to us.  It is refreshing and truly a gift.  Thank you!

So, here’s to year 3.  Thank you God for the amazing blessings you have poured out on us.  Thank you for the privilege of walking beside those considered outcast yet those who have become great friends and family members to us.  We thank you that you call us to share our impoverished lives together.

 

Apr 18

Cricket. Cricket. Cricket.

It has been way too quiet on this website, since it has been over a month since I posted anything.  Yes, one whole month.

Inconceivable.  Unacceptable.  Unforgivable.

I could give you a whole bunch of excuses for why nothing has gotten posted over this month, but to bottom line it – something had to give during this past month and this happened to be the one thing that did.

Here is the 30 second update:

- Families continue to be served by our staff daily.  Providing for basic needs.  Moving families toward sustainability.  Seeing families embrace hope.  Great stuff is happening daily.

- Jerry is settling into his new role at International Evangelical Church very well.   Its a great place to serve.

- Our local staff are doing an amazing job of running the day to day and looking to the future.  We have some great things to report soon.

- We are preparing to move our one day care into a different facility.  Our lease is up on the one day care and we’ve found something more affordable that will help us to potentially expand the services we offer.  Move date – on or around May 25th.

- We had another mom choose to come into relationship with Jesus recently.  God sovereignly moved in her life.  I love how He does that.

- We are starting to have conversations about a couple of moms whom we could potentially graduate out of the project in a year or so.  They have hit a stride and are well on their way to sustainability.  Sweet deal.

- We have a couple of dads who recently came back into the picture and they are showing signs of true change.  They are caring for their families and are open to being reconciled to their wives.  That is God making what seemed impossible, possible.

And all of this happens because we’ve got great folks like you who pray and serve and give.  Thank you for the part you play!

That’s the 30 second update.  I promise it won’t be another 45 days before the next update.

Mar 09

Love with abandon.

Almost every person who goes on a short term mission trip or travels for an adoption is deeply impacted during their time in-country.  They are confronted with the complexities of poverty as well as the  fact of their own poverty.  They leave after 10 days in a country not their own somewhat different and ready to see injustice confronted and the world changed.

However, for a certain percentage of those people there are gravitational forces that take place upon re-entry to their homes.   Facing the need to dive back into work, re-assume family responsibilities, discouragement by family members or friends, busyness and the pull of society to pursue the Middle Class dream leaves many drawn away from the work that God started in their hearts and the change never comes into full bloom.  The gravitational pull of what “matters” in the West suddenly pulls someone back into the vortex.

For others there is not time, energy or encouragement to wrestle through the emotions, thoughts, smells and sights that one saw while serving in impoverished settings.  Or there is sense of hopelessness that sets in, but with no one to process those emotions with.  An incredibly amazing trip to serve among the poor (and be impacted by their joy in the midst of distress) quickly fades into distant memories, long forgotten powerpoint presentations and dusty photo albums.

The zeal to change the world fades into the distance.

Now, that is not true for everyone, though.   We hear stories of people who are deeply impacted and they return to their home country ready to see a change made.  Sometimes it takes time for the opportunities to present themselves, but in the end they will work to see change made.

This is true of our friend Rachel.  A couple of years ago she and her husband adopted from Ethiopia.  Then she was here on a mission trip a year ago and left “different.”  Now she is doing something about seeing a difference made and seeing families kept together.   God continues to do a deep work in her heart and she is responding.

This past week she launched the “Love With Abandon” campaign.  Her goal is to raise $6,000 total to help support: Embracing Hope Ethiopia, Bring Love In, Compassion Family Project, orphan and widow projects in Florida,  a family who is adopting, and a friend who was recently widowed.

But, you have to read her story and how she got to this place.  You can read it here:

One year later: what I learned about adoption on my mission trip

And when you are done reading that, you can read about the Love With Abandon project here:

http://walseradoptionadventures.blogspot.com/2013/03/launch-love-with-abandon-project.html

If you’ve gone on a mission trip and left ready to change the world, but somehow got caught in a Western culture gravitational vortex when you returned home, then I think you will find her words a great encouragement to you.

You can regain that zeal and still make a difference.

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