Positive change: new partnership and new educational centre

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Please read the information below, for important information about our partnership with Faya Orphanage, and changes to our operations in Ethiopia.

We started Vulnerable Children Society in 2010, our intent was to help vulnerable children in Ethiopia. Our first partner was Faya Orphanage. We covered the costs of the orphanage and they ran our successful and growing House 2 House program. Since, we have also started working with other partners, including Canadian Humanitarian for their educational centre in Gindo.

Regrettably, we have experienced significant challenges getting comprehensive financial reports, complete sponsor child updates and other information from Faya Orphanage. The financial reporting is especially crucial to our status as a registered Canadian charity. The board of directors has worked closely with Faya Orphanage for a year on these issues. Despite this, we have been unable to achieve the level of financial reporting and child sponsorship updates we require to continue our relationship with Faya Orphanage.

Meanwhile, Faya Orphanage’s operations have changed as well. What was once a small group home for 12-15 kids is now a very large home for three or four kids. Approximately half of our monthly budget has been going to run the orphanage; whereas the other half has supported 70 children in the community. Several factors, including increased community support, more health workers, and the adoption slowdown, have all contributed to smaller numbers at the orphanage. In the larger picture, this is a good thing – more kids are staying with their families, and fewer are going into institutional care.

Not continuing contract with Faya Orphanage

As a responsible board of directors who care deeply about being accountable to our donors, we have decided not to renew our contract with Faya Orphanage.

We want to help vulnerable children in Ethiopia grow and thrive, and we need partners who can meet our reporting requirements. To be fully accountable to both our donors and the Canada Revenue Agency, we must work with partners who can provide comprehensive information on both the financials and all the children in the House 2 House program.

This has been a very difficult decision to make as a board of directors. We would like to extend our warmest thanks to Meseret and Sintayehu for working with us for the last 2.5 years to support the well-being of dozens of children and families living with HIV/AIDS or other serious health challenges. We believe the partnership between Faya Orphanage and Vulnerable Children Society has brought help and hope to many families in Adama, Wonji, Guder and Ambo. Without the tireless efforts of the directors of Faya Orphanage, none of this would have been possible.

Plan B – great news ahead!

All this said, the board is now actually feeling very positive about the future. Plan B is on the horizon, and we are very excited to roll it out.

The stress and strain of managing this partner relationship definitely took its toll in the summer/fall, but when we started looking at other options, we saw hope. Our first commitment was to the 70+/- children in our House 2 House program. We wanted to find a partner in Ethiopia willing to support these same children. Along the way, we also started looking at the possibilities to expand our programming and deepen our impact on our House 2 House families. These were board goals that we had already – to make a life-changing impact on a child’s life, and break them out of the cycle of poverty.

After months of planning, we are happy to announce that we have a new partner to continue the support of our house 2 House kids, and develop innovative programming to support them more than we could before.

Continued support for House 2 House kids

Our plan with the new partner is to continue the House 2 House program for all the current families that wish to take part.

Children in Ambo, Adama, Wonji and Mojo will be offered continuing support as follows (children in Guder will be offered a place at the new educational centre. Please see further below).

When Faya Orphanage was running our House 2 House program, we sent a cash stipend to the families, and paid for school registration fees and uniforms as a separate project. The revised program will include registration fees and uniforms for school each year, as well as an equivalent food credit at the local mill or store. A coordinator will visit each family quarterly: the food credit is conditional upon the coordinator meeting with the family and child. The coordinator will also be tasked with preparing bi-annual updates on the children. We are currently working with our partner to hire an appropriate coordinator, and get this program up and running in the next few months.

Arnica will be travelling with other directors and volunteers to Ethiopia in April. They plan to meet with many of the families, to connect with them and explain the revised program.

A new opportunity for Faya Orphanage sponsors: NEW educational centre!

We understand that most of the Faya Orphanage sponsors simply want to help children in Ethiopia struggling with poverty and HIV. We are very excited to announce an amazing opportunity to do just that. We hope that each and every one of our sponsors will maintain their monthly sponsorship, so that they can become founding supporters of our new educational centre to support our House 2 House families in Guder.

We are pleased to announce that we will be rolling out our first supportive educational centre for the House 2 House children in the town of Guder, west of Addis Ababa.

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.

We decided to begin our first educational centre in Guder, since the government officials were very receptive to or previous visits, the House 2 House program participants also have a real sense of community, there are existing ties to the HIV Association, and the town has less support from NGOs than other communities.

We will start with the current approximately 20 children in the House 2 House program, but plan to expand the centre to 30 children over time. When the Guder centre is full and we have the support to do so, we will roll out another centre, in another House 2 House community, to help the next group of kids. Eventually, we hope to have a centre in each of the communities we serve.

If you have any questions, please email info@vulnerablechildren.ca

FAQs

How does Vulnerable Children safeguard our funds?

Please refer to “Safeguarding our donors’ funds: How VCS oversees our projects to be effective and accountable”. The added component is that if our partner cannot account for funds in a timely fashion, and cannot give complete reports, then we cannot continue the relationship.

What if we still want to support Faya Orphanage?

Of course, you are welcome to support any cause you see fit in Ethiopia or anywhere. We simply will no longer be facilitating funds for Faya Orphanage.

What is happening to our donated funds now?

Faya Orphanage sponsorships will be converted to Education Centre sponsorships and applied toward the quick start-up, and soon, operation of that program. House 2 House sponsorships will support the same program, and the same children.

Gorgeous kids sport their school uniforms – sponsor updates soon!

Looks at those beaming smiles! So proud of their uniforms!
Looks at those beaming smiles! So proud of their uniforms!

Hello dearest supporters and sponsors;

This is just a note to thank you again for your support, especially around the beginning of the school year. This year we were able to provide all the children in our House 2 House program with uniforms to attend the local government schoools, as well as pay their registration fees.

A gift of uniforms in Ambo
A gift of uniforms in Ambo
Ambo kids in their new school uniforms.
Ambo kids in their new school uniforms.
The local media covered the story in Guder...
The local media covered the story in Guder…
Some of our House 2 House kids in Guder.
Some of our House 2 House kids in Guder.

Currently, we are working on preparing updates for all House 2 House sponsors. We haven’t received information or photos on all the kids from Faya, but the pictures we did receive show off the bright and shining faces of our VCS kids. If we have new news on your sponsored child or not, either way, you can expect a email in February. The updates we did get this time have more information for most of the kids – it’s great learning more about them and following the kids’ development.

Hello from some of the families in Wonji!
Hello from some of the families in Wonji!
The rainbow of colours - each colour is a different school.
The rainbow of colours – each colour is a different school.

Thanks again to our volunteer Rita who spends days preparing updates on all of the kids to over 100 sponsors. It’s a work of love.

Darling kids - read to learn!
Darling kids – read to learn!

Festive Fundraising

In December, the call center staff at Veseys in York, Prince Edward Island embarked on a two-week-long fundraising initiative in support of the Vulnerable Children Society, in lieu of their annual Secret Santa Gift Exchange.

Veseys Call Center Staff

While the initiative was spearheaded by the call-centre staff, the entire Veseys team joined in the fun.

Everyone scrambled to be first in line to buy beautifully packaged homemade fruitcakes, cookies, squares, cupcakes and truffles at the bake sale table.

Bake Sale

Staff members bought raffle tickets for a chance to win one of three gorgeous gift baskets, filled with bath and beauty products, decadent treats and keepsake ornaments.

Gift Basket

A bucket-full of coins was collected through a penny drive (a dedicated staff member even rolled all those pennies and brought them to the bank on our behalf!).

Penny Bucket

By the time the campaign wrapped up on a snowy Friday afternoon, the call center staff had raised $522.60 for the Vulnerable Children Society! 

Pat & Nicole
Check presentation to VCS Director Nicole Bellefleur

Throughout its 73 year history, Veseys has been committed to supporting communities locally and abroad. The company contributes to events in support of Island individuals and organizations, and it offers a fundraising program that enables non-profit organizations across North America to raise money by selling of flower bulbs and seeds.

Veseys is also proud to support Farmers Helping Farmers, a nationally recognized, award-winning organization that assists Kenyan farmers in becoming more self-reliant in agricultural food production. In addition to providing monetary and seed donations, Veseys sends experts to Kenya as part of the crop advisory team.

Veseys is located in York, Prince Edward Island. It is one of North America’s largest mail order seed, bulb and garden equipment companies; it also features forty acres of trial gardens, a retail garden shop, and the Island’s largest selection of outdoor lawn and garden power equipment. For more information about Veseys, please visit www.veseys.com

Single Malt Tasting benefits Vulnerable Children

scotch tasting 2013

Enjoy a tipple of single malt? If you are in the Kelowna, BC area, come join the Ogopogo Rotary Club for a fabulous night of scotch tasting! All proceeds will be donated to Vulnerable Children Society!

January 25th at 7pm – Centre for Learning at the Okanagan College KLO campus in Kelowna.

Call or email for tickets:
Olivia 250 317 4007 olivia6010@yahoo.ca
Jane 250 764 9313 jane@jfaconsult.ca

Holiday Donations – Ecards on Dec 23!

Want to give a meaningful gift for Christmas? Make a donation to Vulnerable Children Society in someone’s name!

We will send out ecards for you to print and slip into stockings on Sunday December 23rd. You can also forward your ecard in an email, if your gift recipient lives far away.

Simple make a donation HERE and then send us en email info@vulnerablechildren.ca with who the gift is for, and if you want us to send the ecard to you or to the recipient. Then, on December 23, we will send out all the ecards!

Thanks so much for your kindness. Peace and joy to your families!

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