House 2 House in Ambo and Guder

Today was our first trip to visit with our House 2 House families, and it was a resounding success!

Our first stop was in Ambo, a busy city west of Addis Ababa. We went to the woleta Women and Children’s Affairs Office, to meet up with some of the families in our program. We were happy that most of the children were able to come and meet us. We had packages from some sponsors to deliver, but we made sure that each child that we got to meet went away with a car, stuffie, or soccer jersey. They were big hits! So thanks to all the donors.

Our plan ahead of time was to sit and talk with each family and get updates from them, but most of the mothers and aunts who brought their children were doing so over their lunch hour, so we didn’t have much of a chance to chat before they had to go. It was fun to meet many of the mothers and amazing to see the sweet little kids in person. unfortunately, the lady who runs the office just passed away two days ago, and of course, the whole office was in grieving mode, so we didn’t talk to any officials at that location.

After a late lunch we drove out to Guder, which is 12 kms away. This is a much smaller community, more of a town than a city. We were all impressed at how immaculately the streets were kept – it is just a pleasant place.

Our visit was at the woreda Women and Children Affairs office, which shares space with the HIV Association. More than sharing a building, we learned how closely the non-profit and the government office work together to identify and support children and families affected by HIV. For entry into our House 2 House program, there are many steps that take place. The kebele (neighborhood) identifies families that are extremely poor and affected by poverty and HIV. Reports are made (we saw examples of these) by the kebele and the adults applying on behalf of the child also have to collect a letter of support. The files go to the woreda Women’s office and the staff there conduct home visits. They then connect the families with the HIV Association to get access to ARVs and some of the children that fit our priorities, such as being HIV+, missing one or both parents, or physically disabled, get onto the wait list for House 2 House. Officially, we have 10 sponsors for our families in Guder, but in reality, we actually support about 16 children and their families. These families receive a cash stipend to help them send the children to school, feed them adequately, etc. I asked the official about follow-up, and I was impressed to hear not only do they do a home visit to ensure the money is being directed to the welfare of the child, but they also call the schools and collect report cards for all the school children to make sure they are attending. Super staff there at the women’s office, I have to say.

I think what really impressed me in general about Guder was how the non-profits, community and government all work together to take care of these extremely vulnerable children. The other distinct impression I had was that it is a real community, with a connection between the families.

Only 1/2 of the children we sponsor were there, but we left sponsor packages for a couple of children and made sure all the rest went away with a toy or jersey. I personally enjoyed interacting with the grandmothers there, and sharing laughs as we took photos. We also had a chance to meet with an enterprising couple of young women who are running a community lending program, which I will tell you more about in a separate post.

Enjoy the pictures! We did get pictures of all the children and their guardians who were able to join us, and will send them out in the next batch of updates in August! For now, here are some of my favorites of the day.

20120425-175208.jpg

20120425-175154.jpg

20120425-175141.jpg

20120425-175113.jpg

20120425-175128.jpg

20120425-175040.jpg

20120425-175029.jpg

20120425-181134.jpg

20120425-175007.jpg

20120425-175051.jpg

20120425-175019.jpg

20120427-091836.jpg

20120425-175101.jpg

We are on our way!

20120423-091901.jpg

Rita and I just had a restful night in Seattle and we are on our way this morning to Ethiopia. In case you are wondering about the picture above, that is the only way I can sleep in the same room with my mother! And I thought you would find it amusing. Tawnya left a day before us, routed through China. We are both reminiscing about our last trip to Ethiopia together and how different this one is. We have four huge checked bags full of donations – thank you to everybody who donated medicine, toys, toothbrushes and shoes! And Tawnya had a huge bag as well, including the laptop we scored for Faya Orphanage from BC Tree Fruits.

I think all of us have different goals for this trip. Tawnya said she’s looking forward to meeting all the people she’s been working with over email for the last 2 years. Rita is looking forward to meeting the kids and their guardians in the House 2 House program. As our update lady, she knows all their faces, but she is looking forward to seeing their smiles in person. She is also very interested to meet the guardians of the kids… She says that they are the real heros in our program, taking care of vulnerable children who are often extended family. Rita says they deserve our respect and she’s excited about meeting them, especially the grandmother who takes care of the little boy she sponsors. Of course we both have personal goals for the trip, but that’s another story.

As for me, I think I’m really happy about meeting with our Ethiopian partners and figuring out so many details that are hard to explain while on the phone. I’m looking forward to meeting the government officials and the folks at the HIV clinic who refer our families, checking in with the families and seeing what their needs are, and really understanding the whole system. We’re also doing exploratory work on this trip- we’ve been thinking of starting other programs like micro finance and small plot gardening, and I’m very interested in hearing from the families what they think would be most beneficial to break them out of the poverty cycle and enable them to care for their families self sufficiently. The other goal for the trip is to work out kinks with our updates and to figure out some more Vulnerable Children oversight and engagement measures as our projects and activities continue to grow. We’re considering hiring a (very) part time administrator in Ethiopia, and have candidate interviews planned for next week.

Well, we’re now off to the airport. We should be arriving in Addis Ababa tomorrow.

Thanks for following along! Arnica

20120423-094602.jpg

20120423-094624.jpg

Education Centre is on schedule!

With a lot of hard work the Canadian Humanitarian’s educational support centre in Gindo, Oromia, Ethiopia is well on its way! An amazing milestone has been met with the completion of the foundation!

Hauling all of the rock and breaking them up for the base of the foundation was the first step illustrated in the pictures below.

Once all of the rocks have been laid, they need to be crushed by hand.

Once they have been crushed, rebar must be laid. Seeing the completed sections beside the ones still in progress exemplifies the heavy labour necessary for laying the rebar.

Next the concrete needs to be mixed and lugged to the base of the centre. After seeing the immense amount of man power required, it is easy to believe that 40 members from the local community are employed for the completion of this building.

As construction continues, so does our desire to raise funds so this amazing center can be furnished! Vulnerable Children Society is filling the library with books, furnishing the preschool and kitchen, and filling the centre with supplies. Please help us meet our $5000 fundraising goal!

Please donate to furnish the Gindo education centre! Donate here!
Learn more about Vulnerable Children Society and Canadian Humanitarian’s partnership here!

Gindo Education Centre: The walls are going up!

Digging the centre’s foundation in 2011

Canadian Humanitarian’s educational support centre in Gindo, Oromia, Ethiopia, has been making amazing progress since it broke ground in late 2011. Vulnerable Children is looking forward to filling the centre with furniture and supplies; we need your help to complete the project!

Building the center will greatly increase the number of children that can be assisted as well as expand the services to support other segments of the rural Ethiopian community. Not only will the completed centre provide great value to the community but the production of it has proven to be extremely beneficial to the community by providing jobs to the Gindo population.

Ingenious local techniques for building a lasting multi-purpose centre!

The pictures show us the different types of labour that must be used in constructing such a building. These workers do not have the luxury of machinery or tools and are therefore using extreme labour to develop this centre. It is amazing to see what they can do with such minimal supplies!

As construction continues, so does our desire to raise funds so this amazing center can be furnished! Vulnerable Children Society is filling the library with books, furnishing the preschool and kitchen, and filling the centre with supplies. Please help us meet our $5000 fundraising goal!

Please donate to furnish the Gindo education centre! Donate here!
Learn more about Vulnerable Children Society and Canadian Humanitarian’s partnership here!