Ideas for Sponsored Child Gifts

Vulnerable Children SocietyIf you sponsor a child through Vulnerable Children’s House 2 House program, you may want to send a little gift with us on our annual trip! If we deliver the package in person, we will take pictures and send them to you next update. If we don’t see your sponsored child in person, we will leave the gift with the local government office.

Remember, your gifts need to fit into a large freezer ziplock bag, and need to be sent to the address below before April 15th!

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I’ve had quite a few emails asking about appropriate packages, so here are some ideas for your child and their guardians. Feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments!!

  • For all kids:
    • A photo of your family. You are also welcome to include a short note in English.
    • Bars of soap, toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • For preschoolers:
    • Baby rattles or age appropriate simple learning toys, like little cars or threading beads.
  • For young school aged kids:
    • pencil crayons or felts and colouring books
    • hair barrettes, elastics or bobbles for girls
    • little pony or little doll with brushable hair and a brush for girls
    • little cars or plastic animal figurines for boys
    • little stuffed animals for girls or boys
  • For older school aged kids:
    • pencil crayons or felts and notebooks
    • hair barrettes, elastics or bobbles; lip gloss for girls
    • little cars for boys. Soccer or other jerseys (second hand are fine!) are a hit
    • a nice T-shirt
    • a deflated soccer pump and manual small pump
    • a wind-up or shaker flashlight (no batteries)
  • For mom, grandmother, auntie and older sister guardians:
    • little sample bottles of perfume to go to church or the mosque
    • chapstick or lip gloss
    • a super compact umbrella
    • wind-up or shaker flashlight (no batteries)
  • For dad, uncle, older brother and grandfather guardians:
    • playing cards with Canadian motif
    • wind-up or shaker flashlight (no batteries)
  • PLEASE NO:
    • Liquids
    • Gum or candy
    • Guns or any other violent toys
    • Anything that requires batteries

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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

Faya Orphanage in Adama – question for Faya Child sponsors


Yesterday night we arrived in Adama, a few hours south of Addis Ababa. Waiting for us were all the children at Faya Orphanage, decked out in their best white clothes.

Today, we spent several hours at the orphanage, meeting with orphanage director Meseret, and playing with the kids. Meseret kindly brought us up to date on their organizational costs, and we learned many more details about the administration of the organization. We started to do some future forecasting and strategizing about how to deal with escalating inflation, a changing adoption scene, etc. She is such a professional and it was great to learn, and connect with her again. I think we all have a lot of mutual respect for each other… She and Sintayehu are so committed and accomplish so much for some of Ethiopia’s poorest of poor children.

There are a few facts about the orphanage care that I can share that you readers might find interesting. Faya currently has four full time caregivers. They work 13 days in a row (then one day off!) and live at the orphanage day and night with the kids. These dedicated ladies sleep on mattresses in the kids room at night, cook for the children, care for them, and provide a lot of love.

Faya Orphanage serves many functions. It has three mandates: to house children on a permanent or temporary basis, to facilitate children towards adoption, and to contribute to the community through the House 2 House program.

Our Faya Child sponsors will know that when we send out update on Faya children every six months, it is more common than not that they are switched to sponsoring a different child. The reasons are simple… Sintayehu and Meseret do their best to, first, enable children to return to their families and communities. We have had several children rejoin their families in the last few months… Even long term residents I met 2.5 years ago. We got to see all of those four kids today and in Ambo, and it was wonderful to see them. Some children have also been placed for adoption, most recently to Norway.

There are also children who find a temporary home at Faya Orphanage. For example, when we went to Ambo, I was surprised to learn that one of the children I personally sponsor had gone to live at Faya orphanage with her twin brother for a few months, as her family could not care for her temporarily. There is a picture of me enjoying a visit with her, doing “sharuba” braids on a doll we brought. What a sweeteheart. We expect she and her brother will return to their family in a few weeks time. There are other children that come to the orphanage for daycare, and other temporary reasons.

Sponsors… Your money is being well spent! And truly, the organization is doing a fabulous job of all those three purposes. Without you, these children would not be so well cared for, and wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow and thrive. Thank you!!

We are interested in hearing from you the sponsors of Faya kids, about the sponsorship structure.

Currently, multiple sponsors are assigned to one child… All the sponsors together enable the funding of this organization. (It takes a lot of money to care, and to care well, for multiple children 24/7.) The assigned child usually changes every six months for the reasons explained above, but we TRY to ensure that you receive new information about the child assigned. Because children are transitory, sometimes the assigned child is gone before we get an update completed, or are too new.

Alternatively, we could restructure these sponsorships to be orphanage sponsorships instead of child sponsorships. In this alternative structure, Faya Orphanage sponsors would receive an overall update on the orphanage… How many children there are, etc., and pictures of ALL of them at the time of the update. We could also profile one child each update.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you like the current “FAYA CHILD” structure even though the child is always changing and we may not have complete information, OR, would you like us to reframe the sponsorship as a “FAYA ORPHANAGE” sponsorship as proposed above? (Either way, the money is all being spent the same way, but the structure would change what you as sponsors receive.)

We’d love your feedback… What do you sponsors think? Please leave a comment!



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 info@vulnerablechildren.ca 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

Wonderful story from visitors Tracey and Jason

YES – that’s a fridge! Visitors Tracey and Jason left a cool legacy behind at Faya Orphanage when they visited in May. Read their wonderful story and see pictures of their visit!

I just wanted to say thanks so much for helping us meet up with Sintayehu and Meseret.  We met up with them on May 25th and had a fabulous time!

First of all, they are both so friendly, welcoming and gracious!  What wonderful people they are!  We met up with them initially at a gas station in Adama and then once we connected we went to the Safari Lodge for a drink and to learn about Faya.

Sintayehuis so outgoing that he and my husband really had a lot to talk about….lo!

It was so much fun.  We then shared with them amount we had to donate (as we were sharing our fundraised money between 2 organizations).  They looked really happy and so delicately asked if it would be ok if they used it to buy a fridge as their`s was not working properly any more.  We thought that was a fantastic idea, so off we went to do a little appliance shopping (never thought I`d be doing that in Ethiopia…lol)!

God love them, at the appliance store, they looked at a fridge, the only one in the price range, and it was sooo tiny.  They didn`t complain though and seemed to be content.  CLEARLY that sized fridge would not meet their needs, so  Jason and I agreed to tap into the fundraised money remaining so that they could buy the much larger  fridge that was more suitable (with still plenty left for the second organization).  I think poor Sintayehu and Meseret were in shock with our offer to buy the much larger fridge, but after some assurances by us that we were more than happy to do so, they happily took us to the bank to get more Birr.  At the end of the day, we ended up with a fridge and a juicer!

They then took us to Faya were we got a tour, played with some of the younger children, had a coffee ceremony, and of course unloaded and installed the fridge.

I think Sintayehu and Meseret were happy.  We left them with a fridge and juicer, but really they were the bigger blessing as we walked away from that experience much better people from having met them and learning about the fantastic work that they do. It really was one of the highlights of our trip!

I thought I would just attach a  couple of pictures of the day.  Thanks for helping this all happen!

No, thank you, Tracey and Jason!!!

Visitors Appreciated by Orphanage Director: Letter

There were several families who visited Faya Orphanage in the last month.

Director Meseret Demissie wrote me a note full of appreciation for the visitors and the amazing donations they brought, purchased in Adama and contributed.

We don’t have pictures and notes about all the visitors  – but we thank each and every one of your amazing people who connected with our awesome Ethiopian partner.

If you are interested in visiting Faya Orphanage, please contact Nicole (one of our awesome volunteer directors) via info@vulnerablechildren.ca and we will connect you to the folks in Ethiopia.

“We have got two containers who had cloths and toys last week .we collected  it from wegos guest house .. all the toys and the size of cloths are very nice for our children. Some times we need cloths for very poor children.” (These were containers sent from Arnica Rowan via Laura& Shawn, and Alison and Corrie)

“Shirley and Alicia… Sintayehu contacted them and they asked me what is the most important thing uses for our children. They bought lots of formula milk, diapers, cooking oil, soap body and cloths, corn flakes. baby size shoes, cloth, some medicines and pasta. We really appreciate the donations! Thanks to them so much.” Sintayehu added: “The other important news of th week is about Alicia and Shirley. They did a great job. Even though they have no time to visit Faya, they bough some food staffs from Addis. I hope you will get the details from Meseret.  It is good to send visitors like this whenever you get the chance.”

“We always appreciate any families come and visit Faya Orphanage. They are special guests for me and for the children too. We always talk about how Vulnerable Children Society is doing  hard work to keep Faya sustainable.”