Guests Welcome at the Love and Hope Centre!

On our last visit to the Love and Hope Centre, we sat down with the staff and discussed visitors coming to the centre. Several of our supporters have expressed an interest to visit the Love and Hope Centre, in Kality, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. You are very welcome to visit! Here are some of the guidelines to ensure you, the staff, and the kids, have a lovely time together. We’ve also included a current list of valuable donations, should you decide to fill a bag for the centre!

Love and Hope Centre Visitor Guidelines

We are so glad you have decided to visit Vulnerable Children Society’s Love and Hope Centre in Kality. Please follow these guidelines to ensure a wonderful visit for yourself, the kids and the staff!

  • Plan on visiting the centre around 3pm in the afternoon, on a weekday, so that you can see and interact with the children.
  • When you know your exact date, please email Nicole info@vulnerablechildren.ca so she can pass on the date via the proper channels to the centre staff.
  • The Love and Hope Centre in Kality is approximately a one hour drive from the centre of Addis Ababa, depending on construction and traffic. You are responsible for the costs of a driver to visit the centre. If you need a driver to pick you up, please include that in your email with your date of visit, as well as where you are staying in Addis. If you have your own driver, we will provide a contact phone number so they can speak to the centre staff and get directions to the centre.
  • Any gifts for the children must be brought in batches of 70, and must be given to the centre staff for appropriate distribution. Please don’t hand out gifts or candy at the centre; it teaches the wrong lessons and may not be fair to all the children. When in doubt, please stick to the donations list below.
  • If you bring donations – thank you! Please give them to the centre staff, so they can distribute them wisely, at an appropriate time.
  • Please do not give cash to the centre staff. If you use cash to purchase donations in Ethiopia, and drop them to the centre, that is fine. But if you have cash to give, please donate it through Vulnerable Children Society, so that we can properly account for cash flow. This assists us, and our operational partner, to maintain our stellar reputations as accountable, reliable, non-profits.
  • You may take pictures at the centre! In fact, we encourage it. Please realize the pictures may be used for the sole purpose of promoting Vulnerable Children Society’s work, and the Love and Hope centre. The pictures may not be used for any other application, such as making profit, religious purposes, or raising funds for other causes. You are welcome to post the pictures on Facebook or blogs, but again, please always link to Vulnerable Children Society’s website.  Do not post the names, or personal stories, of any of the children, as we want to respect their privacy. This is really important, and we appreciate your consideration.
  • We love it when we get pictures from visitors, or even better, little stories about your visit to the centre. If you can send us a couple of your best pictures, as well as a paragraph about your visit, we would love to post it on Vulnerable Children Society’s blog, to inspire others to contribute.
  • FYI: the Love and Hope Centre is operated by our awesome partner Canadian Humanitarian, and mostly funded by Vulnerable Children Society. We each have revenue streams that support the centre. If you are interested in Love and Hope sponsorship, or making monetary donations, we have an agreement with Canadian Humanitarian (CH) that Vulnerable Children Society (VCS)’s friends and supporters should donate through VCS. If, for some reason, you are affiliated with VCS but donate through CH, then please let us know, as this amount should be deducted from our transfers to CH.
  • If you have any feedback or questions about the centre, please don’t hesitate to email us.

 Current Donation Wish List

  • Groups of 10 Pre-K and K (Kindergarten) readers. This means 10 copies of the same book, so the students can work on them together  in Reading Clubs. Please avoid any political, violent or religious topics.
  • School supplies, including notebooks, pens, pencils, sharpeners, erasers.
  • Art supplies of any kind, for the art club. Examples include paints, brushes, chalk, charcoal, sketch books, canvases, coloured paper.
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste.
  • Underwear, for boys or girls aged 6-12.
  • Black socks, for elementary school aged children.
  • Skipping ropes

Crafting, reading and meeting at the Love and Hope Centre

20140227-185844.jpg
On March 10, I had the delight of spending the day at Vulnerable Children Society’s Love and Hope Centre in Kality, on the outskirts of Addis. In fact, a whole gaggle of us met at the centre. My family came along with me to teach crafts, and my kids ran around with the other Ethiopian children their age. I had a meetings with staff from Canadian Humanitarian, our partner organization that operates the centre, as well as Deb, the expedition coordinator from Canada. We were also joined by other Vulnerable Children reps: our project consultant Birhan, as well Nicole, one of our directors from Canada. It was a merry, busy day!
20140227-185903.jpg

20140227-185911.jpg

20140227-185916.jpg
Now, as the president of Vulnerable Children, I spend most of my time in Ethiopia in meetings, strategy sessions, and project evaluations. But this time, I got to interact with the kids, reading them stories and leading a craft.
20140227-190000.jpg
My mother, a retired school teacher, prepared a fantastic but very involved craft, that helped the kids practice their English. Counting, colours… My husband father, mother and I all lead groups of 15-20 kids, making beaded frogs and lizards. My hats off to my family… I had the benefit of rudimentary Amharic on my side; but they operated their groups with humour, determination, and a lot of hands on help. At the end of two hours, two hours! all the kids went home with an incredibly special, durable, and fun toy to show their families.
20140227-190006.jpg

20140227-190013.jpg
On a personal note, my seven year old daughters visited and participated too. Most of huge children at the centre are right around their age, so even though they were shy at first, once their daddy got involved in chasing around the kids, they were in their like dirty shirts. My husband Jason only knows a few words of Amharic, but all he needed to start that game was by yelling “Anbassa!” (Lion!) at the top of his lungs. Then he had a crowd of kids, including ours, after him!
20140227-190020.jpg

20140227-190033.jpg

20140227-190046.jpg
The children usually come to the centre for lunch, then return to school until the end of the school day. Then they return for after school tutoring, games, art club, showers, teeth brushing, etc. but since it was the first day back for them after “spring break,” the kids came for lunch, and stayed until the end of the day.

I was really impressed by how the ideas concocted between Canadian Humanitarian’s former executive director and I, those months ago, have transformed into reality. It’s amazing to see. For example, we asked the caregivers to be involved in cooking… So far, five groups of female guardians have rotated through the kitchen, making lunch every day. The guardians are paid as cooks usually would be, and then the next month, they are replaced by new guardians. It’s a pretty awesome, legitimate way to financially involved them in the centre, as well as being involved and supportive.
20140227-190629.jpg
The centre’s coordinator, an amazing young woman, came with the children from the former program, so she knows and understands their individual needs well. Also on staff are a social worker, and an accountant. In reality, they all help with the day to day operations, and it’s an extremely efficient and effective operation.

We did have meetings after the children went home (what’s a visit without a meeting?) to discuss the needs and new developments at the centre. I’ll share those with you all after I have a chance to discuss them with Vulnerable Children Society’s directors. But the punch line is that both our project consultant (who is doing formal evaluation work for us,) Nicole and I… We were all extremely happy with the project!
20140227-190055.jpg

20140227-190103.jpg
If you are currently a Love and Hope sponsor, you should be really proud of your support. It’s money extremely well spent! With an incredible well run centre. Hats off to our partner, Canadian Humanitarian, for operating a fantastic project. And hats off to you, for funding it!
Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!
We hope you will ask a friend to join us as a Love and Hope sponsor, so that we can enrich this program, and open another centre in the near future!
20140227-190107.jpg

Vulnerable Children Society starts a Literacy Library

From Vulnerable Children’s President Arnica Rowan:

When I learned that I was going to Ethiopia in a couple of weeks, I asked Canadian Humanitarian’s Ethiopian coordinator, who operates the Love and Hope Centre, if there was anything I should bring. “10 books of the same title, for our reading club,” he replied. Vulnerable Children’s Love and Hope Centre provides after school tutoring, as well as hot meals, medical care and a safe place for 70 kids to play each day.

20140122-155518.jpg

Well, thanks to the generous contributions from a variety of donors, we are bringing a whole Literacy Library to Ethiopia next week! There are 10 books of every title, for the 10 students in each reading group. We were able to purchase readers and books at 1/2 price from Scholastic (thank you!) which made the donations go that much further. There are books at a variety of primary levels, all in English, with culturally appropriate topics. We have also purchase vinyl covers for all the books, and a library stamp, to keep them in good order and organized.

20140122-155525.jpg

If you are wondering why we would bring English books to Ethiopia, it’s because English is one of the keys to getting a good education. Primary schooling is taught in each region’s indigenous language, but by the time students reach post secondary, the majority of instruction is in English. The foreign language is also a big asset is several industries, including tourism and sciences. So enriching the students’ English second language studies is contributing positively.

Thanks so much to everyone who contributed to our project! We look forward to expanding the library as the students learning needs grow!

If you would like to make a contribution to this project, click the red box below.
Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

Report from Hope for Children – Teenage Sex Trade Workers Retraining Project

We received an official sponsor report from our partner, Hope for Children in Ethiopia, that operates the Teenage Sex Trade Workers Retraining Project in Addis Ababa. It’s a very comprehensive report, but I’ll include a couple of excerpts! It’s so nice to have good reporting form our partners!

“Dear partners,

The social challenges Ethiopians face are complex but at Hope for Children of Ethiopia Relief and Development Association (HCE), we continually strive to increase our understanding of these challenges. We have made significant strides in our understanding and interaction with the culture around us. We have learned more about Streetism — a danger that undermines the potential and development of children — and its major impact on society. HCE’s focus is to understand and provide relief and assistance to our community to fight Streetism, child labor, prostitution, and crime. All of these are inter-related and HCE has realized significant success in our efforts.

HCE relies heavily on the support of our partners and donors to continue our work reaching the destitute and most helpless individuals in our society.

Our partnerships are vital to our continued success. Thank you for your continued support and assistance as we relentlessly pursue our mission to provide education, medical care, school supplies, counseling, and life-skills training to thousands of Ethiopians every year.

Warmly,

Yonas Tesfaye, Managing Director

…..

The Teenage Sex Trade Workers Retraining Project in Addis Ababa…aspires to facilitate a healthy environment for working children to allow them self-reliant by economically, socially, and spiritually. In order to achieve the planned project activities, the project designed a strategy that includes renting houses, providing working materials, and providing operation and living expenses for students for one year while the Boy or Girl attends training. A variety of training is provided to the children in order to increase their confidence throughout the training period.

Most of the children have been subjected to child labor and child abuse. Child Labor is a significant problem in Ethiopia. Children are often abused and neglected by their employers. The children suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and have trust issues.

HCE works to address each child’s individual issues to help him/her overcome obstacle he/she faced with a view to heal the scar in him/her. Most of the children in our Boys and Girls Projects are able to recover from the pain that resulted from the injustice by their previous employers and they, after time, training, and healing. They become productive citizen who can help themselves and others.

The ultimate goal of our program is to equip the children to become self-reliant.

During their stay in the project, each child received life-skills and vocational training. After one year, at program completion, these children know how to manage their time, resources, and individual freedom. They are equipped to begin their own life in their own and become the major decision makers in their lives. These children also learn to make and save money become socially active with their respective community.”

More in future blog posts!

Field Report: Humbled and Inspired

From Communication Director Nicole, December 2013, from the Love and Hope Centre in Addis Ababa:

The kids who are participating in this program are among the most at-risk in Kality, meaning they have lost one of both parents, are touched by HIV (either they and/or their parents are HIV+), and/or are very poor. They range in age from 5 to 13 years.

One might think that with so many challenges before them, they’d be down-in-the-dumps, but nothing could be farther from the truth. I was greeted with unbridled excitement and enthusiasm – these kids know how to make a gal feel welcome! They were eager to play games with me and show me around, and they just loved watching videos of themselves on my iPhone.

As someone who spent three years teaching English in Japan, I was impressed by how well the kids could speak English. They were all eager to introduce themselves to me, tell me their ages and shake my hand.

Before I left, they sang a joyful song. As I watched them, I couldn’t help but marvel at their resilience. These kids have experienced more hardship than most of us will ever know, but they aren’t dwelling on it. Instead, they are meeting life’s challenges head on, smiling all the way. It was both humbling, and inspiring.

Visit: Love & Hope Centre’s Holistic Approach

by VCS Communications Director Nicole Bellefleur

Bisrat & Nicole2On Monday, December 9th, I visited the Vulnerable Children Society’s Love & Hope Center with Canadian Humanitarian’s in-country representative, Bisrat Sime.

The educational center is located in Kality, an impoverished community of about 28,000 residents located on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. The unemployment rate is exceptionally high and poverty is wide-spread; its residents are among the most vulnerable in the region.

Seventy of the community’s most at-risk kids visit the center on a daily basis, to receive a hot meal at noontime, and to take part in the center’s after-school program – this includes:

• Tutoring and homework assistance daily (the kids attend a nearby school from 8:30am to 3:30pm)
• Reading practice two days per week
• Art classes two days per week
• Free play one day per week

The walled compound features a building with one large room furnished with tables and chairs, and a small office; there is also a courtyard where the kids can play. The entire facility is immaculate.

Nicole - Main Room2

Courtyard2

The program places an emphasis on personal hygiene.

Brushing Teeth2

Each child keeps a toothbrush in a pocket of big canvas storage unit that hangs in the social worker’s office, and brushes his/her teeth every day after school.

SW - Toothbruch Storage2

To one side of the courtyard is a new structure made of corrugated metal that houses separate toilets and showers for boys and girls – this is where the kids take showers on Saturday mornings.

Toilet2 Shower Stall2

Next to this structure is a concrete platform with four taps on either side – this is where they wash their feet every day.

Foot Washing Taps2

Across the courtyard is a small shelter where the parents and guardians prepare nutritious meals for the kids (there is also a kitchen area inside the main building).

Main Building & Shower-Toilet Building2

There are seventy parents/guardians, and since they all want to contribute to caring for the children, they formed a committee that assigns five of them to volunteer for this task each month.

Parents-Guardians - Food Preparation2

The children in the program also receive medical attention from health care professionals.

It’s evident that the social worker managing the Vulnerable Children Society’s Love & Hope Center genuinely cares for each child in his care, and is proud of their accomplishments.

By giving the children access to educational assistance, better nutrition, and health care services, and enabling them to grow through play, sport and art, the program is taking a holistic approach toward ensuring they reach their full potential.

Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org! You can support these wonderful kids and make a difference in their lives. Your support enables children to receive the love and hope they deserve, as well as educational, health and social care. Your donation also enables us to expand our Love and Hope Centre program to other communities. Learn more.