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

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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!
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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!
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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!
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Request for Hygene Donations

With an emphasis on personal hygiene, the goal is for each of the 70 children at the Love and Hope Centre in Kality to have at least three sets of underwear: shorts, panties, socks and undershirts (100% cotton). The center also needs toothbrushes and toothpaste.

If you would like to donate these items to the Vulnerable Children Society’s Love and Hope Center in Kality, please send them to Communications Director Nicole, who will be travelling to Ethiopia in the near future. The address is below.

Or, if you are traveling to Ethiopia soon, please consider bringing these items to the centre. You can contact Nicole for details on how to get to the centre, and for their current needs: info@vulnerablechildren.ca

Nicole Bellefleur – Please send before February 1st
6 Gay Avenue
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
C1A-2N3
CANADA

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.