Yesterday we finished up our visits to all the children in Wonji and Adama. Even though these communities are side by side, they are totally different places with different needs and different programs.
Wonji is a rural community of approximately 20,000 residents. It’s a much wealthier rural area than Guder or especially Nakemte; however, appearances can be deceiving. There is a sugar cane factory in the community that’s as many decent paying jobs. Any family who isn’t supported by the factory is at a serious disadvantage, though, since they are competing for the food resources, without a good income. In others words, the economic gap is deep.
House 2 House in Wonji is a community program enabled by Vulnerable Children and implemented by Faya Orphanage in cooperation with the local HIV clinic and the kebele (neighborhood government.) The children are referred by the HIV clinic based on their HIV status, their guardians HIV status, if they are orphaned, their family income and their body mass index. The same man that I met with works at both the kebele office and the clinic, so he is the go-between.
The cool thing about the Wonji program is that it has an organized support system attached to it. The kebele has donated a room in a house across the street form the office where families struggling with HIV meet to discuss treatment, stigma, and just to share experiences. The room is stocked with a buna coffee set… All you need for prolonged discussion in Ethiopia!
With e official, I discussed many things… How they started giving a certain amount of stipend but then decreased it because people were migrating from another organization to ours. They have tried some gardening in the area (the other org) to deal with the dominant food issue, but due to lack of training it failed. We also discussed the possibility of group-based community lending as a wa y to get people up on their feet and out of the programs. I ink we are all on the same page, and it wil be interesting to see how the program evolves over time.
While I was meeting wi the official, Tawnya and Rita were having fun handing out gifts from sponsors and from us. Every child we met got a small toy, a soccer jersey or school supplies! Thanks to all the generous donations we brought with us.
The program in Adama is much more labour intensive, because it is organized directly by the orphanage and the children and families are spread all across the urban city. Adama (formerly know as Nazret during the Red Terror) is a gorgeous, laid back city full of flowering trees, fun shops and cobbled stoned streets. The children live all over the city in the poorer slums and orphanages.
We had a chance to meet with all the families in Adama and Wonji, due to the May day holiday, which was awesome. Sponsors can expect nice update pictures in their August updates!
Sponsors.. Know that your money is being well spent! The dollars are stretched because the vast majority of our sponsored kids are in programs that cooperate with local government AND. Other NGOs… A smart strategy for sure!
So now we are off to Addis again. We have lots of meetings with other NGOs, and will meet with our new Ethiopian Vulnerable Children staffer as well. Enjoy the pictures of our visits with House 2 House, as well as some gorgeous pictures of the area!