A surprise gift for the girls in our Teen Sex Trade Worker Retraining Program

My daughters and I had fun shopping for some very special teen girls on Saturday. Tawnya is leaving for Ethiopia next week to check in on our projects, and is visiting the ten girls in our Teenage Sex Trade Worker Retraining Program in Addis Ababa.

The girls in Addis are currently getting training in hair dressing, and we thought they could use some tool! But also, we just wanted to let the girls know how much we care for them. Many of these girls have been rejected by their families, and have very low self esteem. It’s important that they know we are sending love, as well as money for their program.

I’m sure Tawnya will have a blast sharing these gift bags with the girls. If you would like to light up the lives of 10 more girls next year, we are currently fundraising to support another cohort of girls that would like to escape the sex trade. Please consider donating 🙂

 

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.”