Here is some information about the work we do in Ethiopia.
Why are we involved with Ethiopia?
We have two children adopted from Ethiopia. When we adopted them, we committed ourselves to give back as much as possible. This is the birth country of two of our children. It is now our country too.
What do we do in Ethiopia?
In 2009, Tom visited Ethiopia with others from around theU.S. to visit care centers that served single orphans(one parent deceased),double orphans (both parents deceased and living with family such as siblings or extended family) and children in desperate need. The care centers provide food, counseling, and medical care to these children who face daily challenges such as finding a meal or going to a place where they receive care that they are not receiving at home. These children are not eligible for adoption.Rather, they will stay in Ethiopia, and hopefully break the cycle of poverty so prevalent in the country.
Children’s Hopechest, a non-profit faith-based organization based in Colorado Springs, hosted the trip. The group visited many care centers, spending time with hundreds of kids and getting to know the leadership of the centers. The intent was to match each of the care centers with a church in the U.S. that would assist with the center’s operation.
We, along with a family (Rob and Candy Tennant) in NorthCarolina who also have children adopted from Ethiopia, decided to work with acare center located in Kombolcha, a town of about 85,000. Kombolcha is about a ten hour drive from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.
Lori or Tom have visited annually since 2012. Along with the Tennants and others from around the country, we conduct a vacation bible school for about 175 children between the ages of 10 and 16. As we have known them for5+ years, we have watched them grow and mature. We know many of them by first name.
Why Children’s Hopechest?
When we were looking for a way to become involved, we were not satisfied to go to a place and do nothing but paint a building or build a swing set. We wanted to get involved in a long term relationship with an organization. We were attracted to Children’s Hopechest goal of helping the care centers as well as the children become self sustaining.
How Does Children’s Hopechest Work with Care Centers?
The primary activity with Children’s Hopechest is through sponsorship. Children are sponsored by people in the United States, for$38/month. The money does not go directly to the children. Rather, Children’s Hopechest staff in Ethiopia distribute the funds for the operation of the care centers, provide uniforms, school supplies and tuition for the children’s schooling, and purchases essential supplies such as cooking oil and food for the families of the children at the care point.
We also do fund raising for specific projects and activities. For example, we were recently able to raise enough money to have a bathroom and shower facility built at the care center. The money went to local laborers, thereby helping to improve the local economy. This year, we are using the funds we raise to purchase towels and wash clothes for the new showers,dishes, and an injera maker. Because we look to the care center’s leadership for guidance on where they need money, we will make purchases while we are there.
We also use funds to purchase food for the children. We will buy oranges, bananas, and bread each day while we are there. We will also purchase food for a large feast that will consist of lamb, potatoes, carrots,injera, and as a special treat, soda.
More About Sponsorship
Children’s Hopechest believes that it is important for sponsors to develop a close relationship with the children. Letters are strongly encouraged to and from the kids. Letters come from the kids written inAmharic (Ethiopia’s official language) and translated to English.
A group visits the care centers annually, bringing care packages from the sponsored families. Sponsors are especially encouraged totake the trip to get to personally know their children. While in country, we visit the homes of the children, getting to know their families and understanding better the situations they come from. Over the years we have gotten to know some of the children and their families very well.
Last year, one of the older boys drowned while swimming in a ake with his buddies. He had passed his school exams and had developed into a leader. When we heard the news, we were all in shocked. It so happened that his sponsor was going to Ethiopia last spring. While there, he went to the home of the boy’s family to express his sympathy. It was a heart wrenching moment as all of us grieved at the loss of this boy.
All of the children at the original care center are now sponsored. Last year, a second care center opened, with about 100 children between the ages of 3 and 6. In the few months that we have been working with them, over 10 of the kids are already sponsored. We will be visiting this care center as well this year.
Ways To Get Involved
- Sponsorship. There are many kids at the new care center who need sponsored. You can get more information at: http://www.hopechest.org/community/chda/sponsor/.
- Read our blog. We leave this year on March 6.Tom will be updating our activities at http://laughners.blogspot.com.
- Go with us! Our next trip will most likely be mid-March of 2016. Let us know, and we will answer any questions you may have.