FAQ: What is happening with the House 2 House program and Educational Centre?

One of our values at Vulnerable Children Society is transparency – so even when we don’t have complete answers, we want to keep you fully informed about recent developments in our programs. We would like to assure you that we are wisely stewarding your donated funds, and working diligently to help vulnerable children in Ethiopia.

To begin with, I feel some back-story is necessary.

Back in April, we announced that we had partnered with Canadian Humanitarian, so they could operate our House 2 House program, in the place of Faya Orphanage. Most of you know that three directors from Vulnerable Children Society, including myself, spent a gruelling three weeks in Ethiopia in May working on the transition from one operator to another.

Our House 2 House program has operated in essentially four communities, with roughly 20 kids each in Ambo, Guder and Wonji, and a handful of kids in Adama.

While in Ethiopia, we met with government officials in Guder, and via the phone, in Ambo. The program in those communities is governed by an agreement between Faya Orphanage and the Ambo zone level of government. The purpose of our visit was to introduce the government to our new program operator; however, when we met, it was obvious that Faya Orphanage was continuing to operate the program using residual funding.

We also met with a local politician in Wonji, and were able to visit with and support the families, who had not heard from Faya Orphanage in a couple of months. We reassured them that we had every intention of continuing the support of their families via Canadian Humanitarian. This program, we learned, never had a formal agreement in place, and we confirmed that we would approach the government to make a formal agreement and set up an official program to support the kids and their families.

We also met with Faya Orphanage – six times over the three weeks. We asked them about their capacity to continue the program without our financial support, and what their intentions were moving forward. If they had the ability, we were content to let them continue to operate the House 2 House program without us, as the kids would be cared for, and that is the main thing. However, they told us very clearly that they did not have the financial capacity to continue the House 2 House program. Finally, Faya Orphanage agreed to the transfer of operational responsibility to Canadian Humanitarian, and promised to write a letter releasing the responsibility of the children in Ambo and Guder, so that Canadian Humanitarian could move forward with their proposal to start a new program and assume responsibility for the children.

As soon as we left Ethiopia, Faya Orphanage changed their minds and chose not to follow through on the commitments they made. We are telling you this, because we want you to know that we at Vulnerable Children Society, and the rep at Canadian Humanitarian, bent over backwards to work with Faya Orphanage, and to ensure the continuing support of the children. We have done everything in our power, but Faya has broken every agreement and has blocked our attempts to continue support.

So where are we at?

As of this week, the government in Ambo (that governs Ambo and Guder) told us that Faya Orphanage will not release responsibility of the children and is continuing to operate in those communities. So until they are seriously in arrears with payments, the children are not available to support.

In Wonji, we are still working on setting up an agreement to start an educational centre, and are cautiously optimistic about our ability to continue work in that community. Our intention is to continue support of the same Wonji children with the full capacity of an educational centre and a formal agreement between the government and Canadian Humanitarian. We are hoping to open an educational centre in another community in Oromia, to help more children. We’ll tell you more about the other community as we soon as we determine if it is an appropriate fit.

In essence, our House 2 House program and our educational centre program are in a time of transition. 
We are working hard with Canadian Humanitarian to get them back up and running. We are hoping to support both the children in Wonji, as well as children in an additional community, with complete educational centres that will provide for their learning, health and social needs.

In the meanwhile, I can assure you that your monthly sponsorship funds are not being squandered or wasted. In fact, we are very careful fiscal managers. As soon as the educational centres are up and running (this may be as soon as a couple of months from now!) every sponsor will be reassigned to a child at one of the two educational centres. Wonji sponsors will, of course, stay with the same children. Ambo and Guder sponsors, as well as educational centre sponsors, will be assigned to new children in one of the two centres. It will take approximately three sponsors to support each child at this level of care, so working together, we are able to start two centres at the same time! Your sponsorship dollars are essential to start these centres and support all these children.

You may also be interested to know that we are also working on another project to help vulnerable children with our one-time project funds, and you can expect to hear more about that in the near future!

We promise to keep you up to date with the development of our educational centre and House 2 House programs, even when we don’t have complete information. I hope this communication reassures you that your funds are being stewarded responsibly, and will indeed go to the intended purpose: giving vulnerable children in Ethiopia a chance to not only survive, but thrive.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email us at info(at)vulnerablechildren.ca We will do our best to reply back within a week, or post the reply to your question as an FAQ post.

Our sincere appreciation for your continuing support!
Arnica and the other five directors of Vulnerable Children Society

A thousand meetings: Slow and steady progress for our programs

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Our last few days have been full of meeting and meetings. Tawnya, Nicole (when she was here) and I (Arnica) have met many times with Bisrat from Canadian Humanitarian, and our consultant, Birhan, to develop plans for our programs and new partnership. We have also met with Meseret and Sintayehu from Faya Orphanage three times, including one joint meeting with Faya Orphanage and Canadian Humanitarian.

It’s obvious that we all have the children’s best interests at heart, and we are making plans in cooperation to move our programs forward. Transitions like this are difficult, because they involve many levels of government, as well as agreements and organizations. But we are committed to coming up with a plan that takes care of the children, no matter what.

I know as sponsors, you have been hanging in there with us through this transition time. Thank you so much to all of you. It takes a while to navigate all the government processes and agreements. I can assure you that Tawnya, Bisrat, Birhan and I have been working very hard to get everything in order. Right now, we are working with Faya Orphanage to determine whose responsibilities will be whose and and what the final program is going to look like. We expect to have a firm plan, involving all the players, by the end of May.

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VCS directors start work in Ethiopia

Greetings from Vulnerable Children Society in Ethiopia! our first official day of work, we headed out to Guder, which is 2-3 hours west of Addis Ababa. We will have a report on our meeting in Guder tomorrow, but for today, please enjoy some pictures.

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Getting ready early in the morning to head out to Guder. Extra coffees for the jet-lagged volunteers!

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After our successful meeting with the woreda government officials. From left to right: Bisrat from Canadian Humanitarian, Nicole, Birhanu the woreda Women and Children’s desk assistant, Arnica, Birhan our VCS consultant, Asegash the Women and Children’s desk manager, and Tawnya. Rita was taking the picture.

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Nicole and Tawnya looking very official.

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The non official monkeys battering the roof of the woreda office. I recognized Columbus monkeys, but am not sure of the other type. Any ideas?

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“Abdii Jaalala” Love and Hope Centre – our banner hits the road!

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Rita and I (Arnica) are on the road… We are the last of our team of five ladies off to Ethiopia. One our way out today, we picked up the sign for our new educational centre in Guder!

Ta da! The new centre will be called the Abdii Jaalala Centre… Our Love and Hope Centre.

How did we come up with this name? Well, first we asked you, our awesome sponsors for ideas on Facebook. Then we took the two top choices… Mehaber and Dhaala and passed them by native Amharic and Oromiffa speaker, G. Unfortunately, Dhaala’s meaning of “legacy” really means more like and inheritance. And Mehaber, even though in other contexts it means a gathering of people, in this context it means society or association. Association of what? Hmmmmmm… Translating into another language is difficult!

So we sent off all of your awesome suggestions and we brainstormed with G, and tried to come up with a name that makes sense in Oromiffa, described what we were doing, and sounded nice phonetically in English.

The word love… Jaalala… Sounded lovely to us. So we called the centre “love” on behalf of the wonderful guardians who take care of the kids. And we called the centre Abdii “hope,” for the change in the children’s lives and their bright futures.

I can’t wait to deliver the banner to Guder. And when the centre is up and running, they can wrap it around a piece of plywood and make it into a permanent sign. Then, when you sponsors visit, you can get a picture in from of the sign.

When we return, we will have a draw for all of you who submitted names, and then well send the lucky winner a small gift from Ethiopia. Thanks for all your suggestions! Without the the process of this brainstorming and refining, we never would have had an Oromiffa name, and landed on the perfect match: Abdii Jaalala! Love and Hope Centre.

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Help us name our new education center!

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We are having signs made up 2 days from now, for our new education center in Guder, to take with us to Ethiopia. So now is your chance… In the next 24 hours, let’s name our new center something uplifting! Canadian Humanitarian’s other centers are called Kids Hope. We want something equally as positive and uplifting, but distinct from the other centers. Something short and sweet. What are your ideas?

The best idea will get a special prize from Ethiopia. Plus, naming credit! Which is about as cool of a prize as you can get.

So lay it on us… What should we call our new center in Guder?
Please post your suggestions as comments on our Facebook page post.

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.

Announcing our new partner: Canadian Humanitarian!

Press Release
April 15, 2013: For Immediate Release

NGOs Team Up to Assist Ethiopian Children

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Kelowna, BC: Canadian Humanitarian Organization for International Relief and Vulnerable Children Society have once again joined forces to improve the lives of impoverished children in Ethiopia.

Canadian Humanitarian will be operating a new educational centre in the small town of Guder for Vulnerable Children, who is providing the funding and managing sponsor communications. In addition, Canadian Humanitarian will be taking over the management of Vulnerable Children’s House 2 House direct sponsorship program in Adama, Wonji, Mojo and Ambo  that enables orphaned and vulnerable children to stay in their communities instead of entering institutional care.

Bryce Meldrum, Canadian Humanitarian Executive Director, was enthusiastic about the partnership. “We have several educational centres in the Oromia region of Ethiopia that holistically address the needs of vulnerable children. This new centre in Guder combines our years of experience in supporting families and educating children, with Vulnerable Children’s energy and expertise in HIV support.”

The two organizations share similar values and agree that education is the tool to uplift children out of extreme poverty and enable them to realize their potential.

The children in the House 2 House program are chosen by local government based on an extreme level of need. Over 90% of the children are living with HIV, and the others have severe physical challenges. All of the children live in extreme poverty; many have lost one or both parents. Vulnerable Children pays the school fees and uniform costs for all House 2 House children, and provides their families with food and medical support.

“Our sponsors have been supporting our House 2 House kids for almost three years and the program has made an enormous difference in their lives,” commented Arnica Rowan, president of Vulnerable Children Society. “We are so pleased that Canadian Humanitarian has agreed to operate our programs and deepen the level of support for our kids in Guder with an educational centre. It is our hope to eventually offer these extended social, medical and educational services to all our sponsored children in each of the other communities.”

Previously, Vulnerable Children Society donated $10,000 to furnish one of Canadian Humanitarian’s centres in the rural Ethiopian community of Gindo.

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To learn more please contact:

Arnica Rowan, President, Vulnerable Children Society. Kelowna, BC. (250) 762-9227  info@vulnerablechildren.ca  www.vulnerablechildren.ca

Bryce Meldrum, Executive Director, Canadian Humanitarian. Medicine Hat, Alberta. (403) 527-2741 bryce@canadianhumanitarian.com  www.canadianhumanitarian.com

Donations to the Guder Educational Centre may be made on either organization’s website. Please mark your donation “Guder.”

To sponsor a House 2 House child, please set up your monthly donation on Vulnerable Children Society’s website.

 

 

Canadian Humanitarian
Canadian Humanitarian Organization for International Relief
www.canadianhumanitarian.com

Canadian Humanitarian Organization for International Relief (Canadian Humanitarian) is a non-religious, non-political, registered Canadian Charity (#87302 9102 RR0001). We are dedicated to assisting disadvantaged children, their families and communities break free from the cycle of poverty.

Our Vision: To see every child reach their full potential through innovative, sustainable community development models that empower local initiatives.

Our Mission: To break the cycle of poverty by providing orphaned and vulnerable children and their families with access to health care, education, vocational training, and the basic necessities of life such as nutrition and shelter.

Our Philosophy: Canadian Humanitarian believes in local solutions to local struggles. This leads us to partner with local individuals and local organizations overseas to create opportunity for individuals, families and communities. Adopting a community based development approach; we provide tools to community members enabling them to get themselves out of poverty.

Vulnerable Children Society
Vulnerable Children Society
www.vulnerablechildren.ca

Vulnerable Children Society is a registered Canadian Charity (#810826917RR0001 ). We help some of the most vulnerable children and families in Ethiopia, in collaboration with Canadian Humanitarian and other wonderful Ethiopian partner organizations. With the help of our dedicated donors, we run a House 2 House child sponsorship program, which provides compassionate supportive care to children and families affected by extreme poverty and AIDS/HIV in their neighborhoods; and support very vulnerable children and families with impactful, targeted projects such as orphanage support, drought relief, and furnishing a library and educational centre.

Child by child, family by family, we hope to make the world a safe and joyful place for some of the world’s most vulnerable children. Our values are sustainability, compassion, transparency and impact.

Vulnerable Children Society was started by 6 women, all joined by a common love and sense of responsibility for children in Africa. Some of the women have children adopted from Ethiopia and Swaziland. Two women are of Moroccan and Ethiopian heritage themselves. Currently, we have approximately 100 members and 6 directors from all across Canada.