Positive change: new partnership and new educational centre


Please read the information below, for important information about our partnership with Faya Orphanage, and changes to our operations in Ethiopia.

We started Vulnerable Children Society in 2010, our intent was to help vulnerable children in Ethiopia. Our first partner was Faya Orphanage. We covered the costs of the orphanage and they ran our successful and growing House 2 House program. Since, we have also started working with other partners, including Canadian Humanitarian for their educational centre in Gindo.

Regrettably, we have experienced significant challenges getting comprehensive financial reports, complete sponsor child updates and other information from Faya Orphanage. The financial reporting is especially crucial to our status as a registered Canadian charity. The board of directors has worked closely with Faya Orphanage for a year on these issues. Despite this, we have been unable to achieve the level of financial reporting and child sponsorship updates we require to continue our relationship with Faya Orphanage.

Meanwhile, Faya Orphanage’s operations have changed as well. What was once a small group home for 12-15 kids is now a very large home for three or four kids. Approximately half of our monthly budget has been going to run the orphanage; whereas the other half has supported 70 children in the community. Several factors, including increased community support, more health workers, and the adoption slowdown, have all contributed to smaller numbers at the orphanage. In the larger picture, this is a good thing – more kids are staying with their families, and fewer are going into institutional care.

Not continuing contract with Faya Orphanage

As a responsible board of directors who care deeply about being accountable to our donors, we have decided not to renew our contract with Faya Orphanage.

We want to help vulnerable children in Ethiopia grow and thrive, and we need partners who can meet our reporting requirements. To be fully accountable to both our donors and the Canada Revenue Agency, we must work with partners who can provide comprehensive information on both the financials and all the children in the House 2 House program.

This has been a very difficult decision to make as a board of directors. We would like to extend our warmest thanks to Meseret and Sintayehu for working with us for the last 2.5 years to support the well-being of dozens of children and families living with HIV/AIDS or other serious health challenges. We believe the partnership between Faya Orphanage and Vulnerable Children Society has brought help and hope to many families in Adama, Wonji, Guder and Ambo. Without the tireless efforts of the directors of Faya Orphanage, none of this would have been possible.

Plan B – great news ahead!

All this said, the board is now actually feeling very positive about the future. Plan B is on the horizon, and we are very excited to roll it out.

The stress and strain of managing this partner relationship definitely took its toll in the summer/fall, but when we started looking at other options, we saw hope. Our first commitment was to the 70+/- children in our House 2 House program. We wanted to find a partner in Ethiopia willing to support these same children. Along the way, we also started looking at the possibilities to expand our programming and deepen our impact on our House 2 House families. These were board goals that we had already – to make a life-changing impact on a child’s life, and break them out of the cycle of poverty.

After months of planning, we are happy to announce that we have a new partner to continue the support of our house 2 House kids, and develop innovative programming to support them more than we could before.

Continued support for House 2 House kids

Our plan with the new partner is to continue the House 2 House program for all the current families that wish to take part.

Children in Ambo, Adama, Wonji and Mojo will be offered continuing support as follows (children in Guder will be offered a place at the new educational centre. Please see further below).

When Faya Orphanage was running our House 2 House program, we sent a cash stipend to the families, and paid for school registration fees and uniforms as a separate project. The revised program will include registration fees and uniforms for school each year, as well as an equivalent food credit at the local mill or store. A coordinator will visit each family quarterly: the food credit is conditional upon the coordinator meeting with the family and child. The coordinator will also be tasked with preparing bi-annual updates on the children. We are currently working with our partner to hire an appropriate coordinator, and get this program up and running in the next few months.

Arnica will be travelling with other directors and volunteers to Ethiopia in April. They plan to meet with many of the families, to connect with them and explain the revised program.

A new opportunity for Faya Orphanage sponsors: NEW educational centre!

We understand that most of the Faya Orphanage sponsors simply want to help children in Ethiopia struggling with poverty and HIV. We are very excited to announce an amazing opportunity to do just that. We hope that each and every one of our sponsors will maintain their monthly sponsorship, so that they can become founding supporters of our new educational centre to support our House 2 House families in Guder.

We are pleased to announce that we will be rolling out our first supportive educational centre for the House 2 House children in the town of Guder, west of Addis Ababa.

This fantastic educational centre will provide hot meals for the children each day, school registration fees and uniforms, a safe place for the kids to go after school and a support network for the guardians of the children.  As we expand our sponsor base, we also will be offering programming such as a community health worker, HIV educational workshops for guardians and children, a community garden, and after school tutoring. This centre is modeled after other very successful programs we have visited in Ethiopia, and we know that it will effect deep transformational change in these children’s lives.

We decided to begin our first educational centre in Guder, since the government officials were very receptive to or previous visits, the House 2 House program participants also have a real sense of community, there are existing ties to the HIV Association, and the town has less support from NGOs than other communities.

We will start with the current approximately 20 children in the House 2 House program, but plan to expand the centre to 30 children over time. When the Guder centre is full and we have the support to do so, we will roll out another centre, in another House 2 House community, to help the next group of kids. Eventually, we hope to have a centre in each of the communities we serve.

If you have any questions, please email info@vulnerablechildren.ca


How does Vulnerable Children safeguard our funds?

Please refer to “Safeguarding our donors’ funds: How VCS oversees our projects to be effective and accountable”. The added component is that if our partner cannot account for funds in a timely fashion, and cannot give complete reports, then we cannot continue the relationship.

What if we still want to support Faya Orphanage?

Of course, you are welcome to support any cause you see fit in Ethiopia or anywhere. We simply will no longer be facilitating funds for Faya Orphanage.

What is happening to our donated funds now?

Faya Orphanage sponsorships will be converted to Education Centre sponsorships and applied toward the quick start-up, and soon, operation of that program. House 2 House sponsorships will support the same program, and the same children.

Rewarding Visit to Faya Orphanage

A big thank-you to supporters Marie and Erik Matchett for the pictures and report of their recent trip to Faya Orphanage in Ethiopia!

On Sunday, October 28 Sintayehu picked my husband and myself up at our Guest House for a visit to Faya. He was fabulous and was a tour guide for us, taking us to visit some “attractions” along the drive!

When we pulled into orphanage we were met with smiling children ready to shake our hands and the director Meseret. It was a special day as it was a birthday of one of the little ones!

My Mom had hand made little teddy bears for the children there so we handed them out, and the children were so excited to receive these, you would think we had given them the world!! They held on to them for most of our visit and when they did put them down they laid them in their bed!

We were given a tour of the beautiful facility and we delivered our donations and some special packages for some sponsor children. We played with the children who are some of the happiest we have ever met!! We were treated to a traditional coffee ceremony and then we were on our way again!

This visit was the highlight of our trip, next to meeting our Son! I can not begin to explain how important supporting Vulnerable Children Society is and the amazing work they do for children and families!!

I hope others get the amazing opportunity to visit there as it is truly life changing!

~Marie and Erik Matchett

High School Students Sew Comfort Dolls for Vulnerable Children

A big warm shout-out to our friends in Invermere sewing these awesome dolls!!! When their teacher asked me if we had any use for dolls like these, I jumped at the chance. The students are making them durable, lovable and original! We will deliver them to Faya Orphanage and distribute any remaining dolls to impoverished families with small children. Thanks so much, guys!!!

Sewing machines in the textiles classroom at David Thompson Secondary School are humming, and needles with thread pass through colourful fabric with a flourish.

The Grade 8 and 9 students aren’t sewing pyjama pants or things for themselves, as often happens in textiles class: this year, the young seamsters and seamstresses are stitching together plush comfort dolls to send to Ethiopian orphans.

David Thompson Secondary School has a special connection to the particular orphanage where the dolls will be sent. Arnica Rowan, the sister of English and Drama teacher Silena Ewen runs a not-forprofit organization in Ethiopia called the Vulnerable Children Society.

When textiles teacher Marguerite DiFilippo heard about the organization, she thought her sewing class would be the perfect place to create a donation of dolls.

When all the thread is tied off, the high school students will ship enough dolls across the Atlantic Ocean for about 30 children.

“It’s a fun project because the dolls are all going to be one-of-a-kind. No one else is going to have them,” says Grade 9 student Natalie Gibbs as she irons a piece of clothing for her doll.

Sitting nearby, fellow Grade 9 student Courtney Falkmann adds, “It’s nice to know that someone who really needs it is going to get it.”

Excerpt from the Columbia Valley Pioneer page 32! Just click on the picture below to make it big enough to read.

Arrived in Addis

Tawnya, Rita and I have all made it to Addis! For all of us, the memories are ripe, and it is so good to be here. We all have spent time in this same hotel, and seeing familiar faces at the airport was just wonderful.

Tomorrow we are off to Ambo, Guder, and Toke, which are all communities west of Addis Ababa. We have more than 70 kids in our House 2 House program, and roughly 30 of them are in these three communities. We are delivering packages from some of the children’s sponsors, and gifts of stuffies, dinkie cars, soccer jerseys and school supplies, depending on their age and gender. We will also be doing updates on all the children and families that we meet, so that we can send them out at the end of the summer!

Now off to sleep for the first time in 25 hours…

We are on our way!


Rita and I just had a restful night in Seattle and we are on our way this morning to Ethiopia. In case you are wondering about the picture above, that is the only way I can sleep in the same room with my mother! And I thought you would find it amusing. Tawnya left a day before us, routed through China. We are both reminiscing about our last trip to Ethiopia together and how different this one is. We have four huge checked bags full of donations – thank you to everybody who donated medicine, toys, toothbrushes and shoes! And Tawnya had a huge bag as well, including the laptop we scored for Faya Orphanage from BC Tree Fruits.

I think all of us have different goals for this trip. Tawnya said she’s looking forward to meeting all the people she’s been working with over email for the last 2 years. Rita is looking forward to meeting the kids and their guardians in the House 2 House program. As our update lady, she knows all their faces, but she is looking forward to seeing their smiles in person. She is also very interested to meet the guardians of the kids… She says that they are the real heros in our program, taking care of vulnerable children who are often extended family. Rita says they deserve our respect and she’s excited about meeting them, especially the grandmother who takes care of the little boy she sponsors. Of course we both have personal goals for the trip, but that’s another story.

As for me, I think I’m really happy about meeting with our Ethiopian partners and figuring out so many details that are hard to explain while on the phone. I’m looking forward to meeting the government officials and the folks at the HIV clinic who refer our families, checking in with the families and seeing what their needs are, and really understanding the whole system. We’re also doing exploratory work on this trip- we’ve been thinking of starting other programs like micro finance and small plot gardening, and I’m very interested in hearing from the families what they think would be most beneficial to break them out of the poverty cycle and enable them to care for their families self sufficiently. The other goal for the trip is to work out kinks with our updates and to figure out some more Vulnerable Children oversight and engagement measures as our projects and activities continue to grow. We’re considering hiring a (very) part time administrator in Ethiopia, and have candidate interviews planned for next week.

Well, we’re now off to the airport. We should be arriving in Addis Ababa tomorrow.

Thanks for following along! Arnica



Spare laptop, anyone??

Feeling generous? Have a laptop you aren’t using much anymore? We are trying to scrounge a useable laptop for our partner, Faya Orphanage, to use doing reports and paperwork for our programs.

If you live near Kelowna (or are willing to send it) and have an extra laptop, please email info@vulnerablechildren.ca

Follow Vulnerable Children’s President across Ethiopia!

From President Arnica Rowan:

Hi folks –

I thought I’d let you know that I’m heading off to Ethiopia again for a whirlwind trip next month! (See our trip map!)

I’ll be leaving mid April and will be in traveling on a mad schedule for Vulnerable Children Society.

My mom and I (my mom is the volunteer who sends out all your sponsor updates) are going to visit all the 5 communities where we sponsor House 2 House  children and families (Nazret/Adama, Wonji, Mojo, Ambo and Guder), Faya Orphanage in Adama, Canadian Humanitarian’s education project we are helping with in Gindo, and a few other non-profits we’re looking at working with in Addis Ababa.

We’ll share our stories and experiences from all of Vulnerable Children’s current and future projects… please feel free to repost them on your Facebook page.

So if you’d like to follow our travels and see pictures from all around central Ethiopia, please tune in to this blog April 22, 2012! You can also subscribe to our blog posts on the homepage so you don’t miss a thing!

We’d love to take you all along for the ride!

Please help this sweet little man by sponsoring him

What a cutester!  This little boy in Ethiopia was identified by the local Ethiopian authorities as highly at risk and in need of support. He really could use your sponsorship to be happy and healthy, and to recieve the medical treatment he requires.  Please consider sponsoring him through our House 2 House program.

You can make all the difference in the world for this little boy from Ethiopia. With your House 2 House sponsorship, he will receive adequate food, shelter, access to education and medical care. Most of the children in this program are affected by HIV/AIDS, and many have lost their parents to the disease.

UPDATE: This little boy has been sponsored! Thank you! We still have many many more children waiting, if you are interested in helping another child in need :-)

Make a difference for this deserving child.
#1 Click the link below
Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!
#2 Add the amount of $35
#3 Select “Repeating Donation”
#4 Select “Community Child Sponsorship” in the Fund area, and type CM048 in the Message area.
#5 Complete your monthly donation. You will receive your tax receipts directly from CanadaHelps.
Please click the button that shares your name, address and email with the charity, as we really want to know who you are and be able to send you updates on the child and newsletters!
Thanks so much!

Waiting in Wonji: a field report from director Chris Ardern

This is T. She lives with her grandmother. Her parents are gone.


T. lives in Wonji, Ethiopia, a small industrial town hit hard by HIV/AIDS. Almost every child from Wonji in Vulnerable Children Society’s House 2 House program is HIV+. The very few children in the program who are not positive are from families whose lives have been shattered by the virus.

Chris Ardern, a member of Vulnerable Children Society’s Board of Directors, visited Wonji in November. When asked why sponsorship was important for the children and families in Wonji, a local government official said that the better nutrition House 2 House sponsorship provides helps to keep children in Wonji who are HIV+ alive. Quite simply, in many cases sponsorship prolongs the lives of children with HIV; with better nutrition, the anti-retroviral medication the children are on is more effective and the risk of opportunistic infections goes down.

Sponsorship helps children stay healthy. Sponsorship helps children grow. Sponsorship helps children learn. Sponsorship helps take some of the worries away.

Sponsorship through Vulnerable Children Society’s House 2 House program helps kids be kids.

The local government in Wonji has identified T. as being in urgent need of sponsorship. This holiday season, Vulnerable Children Society wants to find a sponsor who will, without a doubt, change this little girl’s life.

Jan 11, 2012: A sponsor has been found for T!

Make a difference for this deserving child.
#1 Click the link below
Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!
#2 Add the amount of $35
#3 Select “Repeating Donation”
#4 Select “Community Child Sponsorship” in the Fund area.
#5 Complete your monthly donation. You will receive your tax receipts directly from CanadaHelps.
Please click the button that shares your name, address and email with the charity, as we really want to know who you are and be able to send you updates on the child and newsletters!
Thanks so much!

Slight changes to our Mission – our last modification for charitable status

Over the last month, we have been working very hard to answer all the questions from the Charities Directorate, complete our financial statements, create a budget for next year, and renew our partnership agreement with Faya Orphanage.

The great news? We have sent this all off via fax to the Charities Directorate, and hope to hear good news by early 2011!!!

We made a slight modification to our purposes (aka our mission) with a board of directors vote. This was in response to a request from the Charities Directorate. It’s no biggie, but we thought we would let you know. Stay posted for good news on our charitable status and tax receipts!!

The purposes of the Vulnerable Children Society are now:

  • To provide for the welfare of vulnerable children in African nations, by providing access to food, shelter, education and healthcare through local partnership organizations.
  • To enhance the quality of life for vulnerable children in African nations, by providing tools and opportunities for play, enrichment, learning, attachment, social and emotional development.
  • To build capacity in local partnering organizations that care for vulnerable African children, through mentorship, training and support.
  • To support communities and strengthen families with vulnerable children in African nations by addressing community food, water, shelter, education, sanitation and healthcare needs through local partnership organizations.
  • To facilitate donor sponsorship, and to fundraise, apply for grants and conduct revenue-generating activities to sustainably support programs and administration costs.
  • To provide similar and related services as approved by the board of directors.