Sisters ask for donations instead of birthday gifts

Two sisters in BC have a great idea – they each asked for their birthday party goers to bring a cash donation for Vulnerable Children Society instead of birthday gifts. The elder sister’s gift arrived just in time for our drought relief campaign, and her mother asked that it be directed to purchasing food aid for Ethiopian families.

Thanks so much to both these gracious young ladies (and their mom!) for their generosity and bright birthday ideas.

Ethiopian Families Affected by HIV/AIDS Need Food Aid Now

Imagine only being able to feed your child once a day. Imagine having to choose between the expense of sending your child to school or being able to feed her that one meal per day. Even worse, imagine knowing that your little one’s health is already compromised by HIV and that she needs proper nutrition to help fight the effects of the virus.

In fact, this is daily life for many families in the central Ethiopian communities of Adama, Wonji, Ambo and Guder. While food is still available in these areas, skyrocketing prices due to the drought in Ethiopia have meant that basic food supplies have become  out of reach for low-income, at-risk families.

This week, Vulnerable Children Society is launching a Drought Relief Campaign to provide food aid to 50 hard hit families in these four communities in the Oromia region of Ethiopia.

We are asking Canadian families to help us raise $1,900 in order to provide large bags of tef flour, the main ingredient in Ethiopia’s national food staple, for 50 at-risk Ethiopian families.

These families are already identified and on the waiting list to participate in the House 2 House sponsorship program facilitated by Vulnerable Children Society and its Ethiopian partner, Faya Orphanage. Most of the children in the community-based program are HIV+ or have family members who are sick or HIV+ as well. The House 2 House child and family sponsorships take care of their basic necessities, which can include food, access to healthcare, medicine and school supplies.

Unfortunately, the wait-list of families needing sponsorship is as long as the list of families already sponsored through the House 2 House program. The local government’s Women’s Affairs office identifies each child or family for the House 2 House sponsorship program. To be recommended for sponsorship, Women’s Affairs first vets each family and prioritizes those families which are most at-risk.

These 50 children and families wait-listed for the House 2 House program are in desperate need of assistance. While Vulnerable Children Society continues to look for ongoing sponsorship for these unsponsored families, they need our help urgently now.  They are already in real crisis and the current food price emergency in Ethiopia has made their difficult situations nearly impossible.

Please consider partnering with Vulnerable Children Society and Faya Orphanage to help these families affected by HIV/AIDS.

To donate to the Drought Relief Campaign, please click on the “Drought Relief” icon (top left) at 

To enquire about sponsoring an at-risk child or family, please contact Vulnerable Children Society at .

Read more:

Vulnerable Children Society Provides Food Aid to Families in House 2 House Sponsorship Program

Families who have recieved drought relief from Vulnerable Children Society in Ethiopia.

As the Horn of Africa continues to be ravaged by drought and famine, Vulnerable Children Society moved quickly this week to feed at-risk families in Ethiopia. All of the families and children enrolled in the House 2 House community support program have received bags of tef flour for drought relief.

Even though the drought has directly affected the southern region, food prices across Ethiopia have skyrocketed. This rapid increase in prices has had a direct impact on the ability of many low income families, already sponsored through Vulnerable Children Society, to purchase basic food supplies. As a result, the society, with its Ethiopian partner Faya Orphanage, has taken immediate steps this week to assist them.

Fifty children and families living in Adama, Wonji, Ambo and Guder are currently being sponsored through Vulnerable Children Society’s House 2 House program. Most of the children in the community-based program are HIV+ or have family members who are sick or HIV+ as well. The House 2 House child and family sponsorships take care of their basic necessities, which can include food, access to healthcare, medicine and school supplies.

Although Vulnerable Children Society’s sponsorships make a huge difference in the quality of these low income families’ lives, the current food price emergency has threatened the well-being of even middle income families in Ethiopia. House 2 House families are far more vulnerable to food price inflation and at much greater risk during this time, even given existing monthly sponsorship.

In the face of rising food costs, Vulnerable Children Society’s first priority was to support these families.

Within days of the society’s decision to move forward with a drought relief campaign, its Ethiopian partner Faya Orphanage delivered food to House 2 House sponsored families in four different Ethiopian communities. Each family received a large bag of tef flour from the community’s weekly local market. Tef flour is the main ingredient in Ethiopia’s national food staple called injera, a sourdough pancake eaten three times a day.

Vulnerable Children Society would like to express our deepest thanks to all donors for their continued generosity. It is your ongoing financial assistance that has allowed us to act immediately in this situation.

The local office of Women’s Affairs vets and identifies families who are sponsored in the House 2 House program. Currently, the House 2 House program has a wait-list of 50 additional at-risk children and families in the community who urgently need individual sponsorship. The well-being of these already vulnerable families has been rocked by this food price emergency. Children and families affected by HIV/AIDS who are waiting for sponsorship through Vulnerable Children Society are currently hungry and need assistance desperately right now.

Please continue to stay tuned to Vulnerable Children Society’s blog and Facebook page this week to learn more about donating to assist these vulnerable families who have been wait-listed for support in Ethiopian communities.

Written by Vulnerable Children board member Chris Ardern

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A Special Thank You to Families Who Have Visited Faya Orphanage

Vulnerable Children Society would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all Canadian families who have donated to and/or visited Faya Orphanage. Your generosity means that, to date, the children living at Faya Orphanage have not experienced negative fallout from the drought affecting Ethiopia.

According to Faya Orphanage director Meseret Demissie, the donations brought to the orphanage have offset other costs, and enabled the orphanage to afford food for the children in her care.

As a result of the drought, prices in central Ethiopia where Faya operates have skyrocketed, meaning that essential food supplies and medicines have become almost out of reach for many families.

Over the last few years, several dozen Canadian families have visited Faya Orphanage with donations, while families in Canada also continue to sponsor children living there. It is this generous support that has helped safeguard the well-being of children who call Faya Orphanage home.

During this food crisis, it has never been clearer that donations from Canadians make a real and lasting difference in the lives of HIV+ and HIV- children living at Faya Orphanage.

If you are planning to visit Ethiopia or have donations you would like to send to Faya Orphanage, please contact VCS board member Nicole Bellefleur at for more information.

While the children at Faya are safe, unfortunately many of the community families enrolled in Faya Orphanage’s House 2 House program in Adama, Wonji, Ambo and Guder are feeling the effects of runaway inflation on food prices.

Please stay tuned to Vulnerable Children Society’s blog and Facebook page this week to learn more about the actions we are taking right now to assist vulnerable families living in Ethiopian communities.

Read more:  Drought in Ethiopia Takes its Toll on Families

Written by Vulnerable Children board member Chris Ardern

Drought in Ethiopia takes its toll on Families

The droughts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have hit the headlines across North America, but the story not yet told is how a lack of water can rock an African family to the core.

“It’s not just the physical toll that a drought causes,” states Arnica Rowan, president of the Kelowna-based non-profit Vulnerable Children Society, which supports children and families in Ethiopia. “You see people starving in the news. But a lack of food also challenges people on an emotional and cultural level.”

Currently in central Ethiopia where Vulnerable Children Society operates, there is still food available, but prices have skyrocketed. “I know people who have good, university-educated jobs and are barely putting food, of any kind, on the  table,” recounts Rowan. “Ethiopia has a much wider gap between the rich and poor than Canada does. So you can imagine how the millions of people who live in extreme poverty are doing. Not well.”

The physical impacts of drought and the subsequent food crisis hit children and other vulnerable people the hardest. With food being scarce for many families, proper nutrition is no longer possible. Children show up to school not having eaten and can’t concentrate on their studies.

Not being able to provide for their families is an incredible burden for parents, shares Rowan. Watching their children doing without but being unable to purchase the barest necessities shakes a parent’s sense of ability and worth to the core.

“Because all food stuffs are so expensive, many Ethiopians can’t even uphold their basic cultural practices,” states Rowan. Traditionally in Ethiopia, any expected or unexpected guest is greeted with a coffee ceremony, and then fed with as much food as they can handle. “Coffee now is so expensive that many people can’t afford to do a coffee ceremony for their guests, or even offer basic finger food. That means that the drought also has important social and cultural implications.”

Canadian families have many opportunities to help vulnerable African families. Through Vulnerable Children Society, Canadians can donate funds for food relief in four communities in urban and rural Ethiopia. They can also sponsor an individual family and enable them to survive and thrive.

“We are ensuring a hundred families in Ethiopia are making it through this difficult period, and we can use all the help we can get from Canadians” states Rowan. “We also need more sponsors to support more families though the long term.”

Droughts in Ethiopia – crisis in progress

You may have heard about the droughts in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia. It’s important to hear what is going on, and how the NGOs and governments are responding.

You may ask what you can do to help people so far away, with such a huge crisis.

We know from reports from our friends and partners in Ethiopia that life is getting harder for everyday working folks, and extremely dire for those living on the edge of poverty.  Thank you for considering donating to those in need.