Major Announcement from Vulnerable Children Society

This week we have two MAJOR announcements to make to our donors and sponsors. Please watch the video below to hear the news directly from 5 of the 6 directors of Vulnerable Children Society. (Pam is in Swaziland, so she didn’t get in the video!)

Click here: To learn more about our new Love and Hope Centre in Kality!

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

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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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.

Tax time! Receipts How-to

Dearest Sponsors – it’s tax time! And I’ve received a couple of emails asking about tax receipts.

IF you converted your monthly sponsorship over to CanadaHelps this past year, OR, donated directly through the Vulnerable Children website in 2012, your tax receipt is waiting for you. You simply log onto www.CanadaHelps.org, and download your receipt. I’ve included some instructions below. This is by far the majority of monthly donors.

IF you have been directly donating via PayPal, we aren’t issuing tax receipts automatically for these donations. So, we ask that you do 2 things, please!

  1. Please switch your monthly donation over to CanadaHelps.org (follow this link or the “Donate Now” logo on our homepage). Simply set up a new donation for the correct amount, and send us an email telling us that you’ve done so, so we can cancel your PayPal donations for you. Next year, you’ll be able to simply download your receipts! Thank you for doing this, as it saves us money and lots of volunteer hours.
  2. If you do require a tax receipt for your PayPal donations, please send us an email (info@vulnerablechildren.ca) and our treasurer will make you up a tax receipt. However, these are done manually and it’s our first time issuing tax  receipts, so it’s best if you don’t wait on the paper receipt and put the total amount into your refund right away!

I hope that has been helpful! Thank you all for your amazing support over the past year!

Steps to download your receipts on www.CanadaHelps.org:

Go to www.CanadaHelps.org Log-in with your email and password.
Go to http://www.CanadaHelps.org
Log-in with your email and password.
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Click on the “Donations & Receipts” tab.
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You will see all the donations you’ve made to VCS through CanadaHelps, and to any other charities you have accessed through CanadaHelps. Just push the Get Receipt button to download your pdf tax receipt. Not that the tax receipt is actually from CanadaHelps – but don’t worry – the money got to us!

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