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.

Darling little girl needs medical care

CM041

This sweet little Ethiopian girl needs specialized medical care and proper nutrition. Our partner has met this sweetheart and has told us she really could use your sponsorship. Please consider sponsoring her through our House 2 House program.

You can make all the difference in the world for this little girl from Ethiopia. With your House 2 House sponsorship, she 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.

If you would like to sponsor one of our community children, please simply click on the “Sponsor a Community Child” graphic on the left. In the “Add Special Instructions” area, state the child’s ID number CM041, and we will match you with this child.

Thank you so much!

We DID it! Sustainable Core Funding for Faya Orphanage

Thank you so much, you amazing sponsors!

Thanks to your gracious and generous support, we have reached our first major goal at Vulnerable Children Society: achieving sustainable core funding for Faya Orphanage!!!!

What this means, is that we have enough monthly sponsorship dollars flowing in each month to cover the operational expenses of Faya Orphanage, as well as the administration of the House 2 House community support program. (All of the Faya Child sponsorships and a portion of the Community Child and Family sponsorships are dedicated to this core funding.) 

This is such a big deal for us. When we built our relationship with Faya Orphanage last summer, we asked the director Meseret what her first priority was. Her answer was dependable, consistent funding that she could count on to take care of the children. Well, thanks to all of you – we have done just that. And the folks at Faya can rest easier (as well as us!) knowing that they are enabled to take care of the children without worrying about where the next bag of teff flour is coming from.

As a side note, a special thanks also to our fundraisers and one-time donors. Thanks to your amazing donations and support, we were able to bridge the gap between sponsorships and Faya Orphanage’s needs from the first month we opened our doors. Your generosity is amazing! We will continue to appreciate and use your donations well… from this day forward, they will be used to build a project account and help other deserving vulnerable children. Keep those donations coming! We can assure you, they will be put to good use.

So what’s next?! you may ask…

Well, there is still enormous need in the Adama and Wonji communities. With your help, we are now focusing on building the House 2 House community support program. There are literally hundreds of deserving children and families waiting on a list for Community Child and Family sponsorships. Each sponsorships ensures another family will be able to feed its children, send them to school, and receive the medical care they need.

A portion of the House 2 House sponsorships had been dedicated to supporting the administration of the program and the orphanage (in Ethiopia! Our Canadian VCS organization is 100% volunteer run.) Now, that portion of the sponsorship money will be dedicated to a future project account, and as the House 2 House program grows, will be used to hire additional Ethiopian staff to manage the program.

We are so pleased to deliver this news, and thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.

Congratulations! – now, let’s get some more community sponsors!!

Money well spent

Woman who sells teff at a discount to Faya Orphanage

I recently had a question from a donor… “I have some money to give, and I’ll be visiting Faya Orphanage soon… what the best way to spend the money that will help the most?”

What a great question! Ok – so if you would like to talk “bang for your buck” – here goes.

Of course, anything donors give is very much be appreciated!

But the biggest need is for funds to continue operations – to pay salaries and rent and medical visits, etc. The folks at Faya are also saving to buy a house for the Faya kids. Both of these things – well, that’s what we at Vulnerable Children Society do for them.

Vulnerable Children is their dependable, reliable income source – and we do that thanks to the donations of kind people like you. We are also starting a small capital fund, which may very well go towards building them a house (but there is still a lot of groundwork to do.)

Our monthly transfer to Faya Orphanage allows the Faya folks to prioritize, and buy what is needed most. When we started out, Meseret the director was quite adamant that she prefers the dependable, consistent income through us that lumps of cash every now and again.

The best expenditure after that is to buy stuff locally. My husband and I did that, when there was no Vulnerable Children, and when we were entrusted with some money to “help as best we could.” We went with Meseret and Sintayehu and bought them furniture, teff, and stuff they really could use. It was great to see all these local corners and places you wouldn’t otherwise – and they got to spend it as they saw fit. Best off, it supports the local economy.

The least effective is to buy stuff here and bring it over. For two reasons – one, your money goes SO much further in Ethiopia! and because you are supporting the economy there, and (ok three reasons) the stuff you bring may not be as culturally appropriate as stuff you could buy there.

The storeroom at Faya Orphanage full of donated formula.

I’m not dissing donations – heck – free stuff is free stuff!!! We had a hockey bag of donated formula that went a long way to nourishing a whole bunch of Ethiopia babies, and boy o boy, was it appreciated! 

BUT if you have cash to give, I would donate it to Vulnerable Children, or spend it with Meseret, in the local community, in Ethiopia.

Thanks so much to that donor for asking – and for all of your wonderful people who have visited (and brought donations, bought teff) and donated via Vulnerable Children!