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

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.

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The program places an emphasis on personal hygiene.

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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.

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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.

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

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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).

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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.

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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.

Progress on the Love and Hope Centre in Kality

One month ago, we announced that the Vulnerable Children Society had partnered with Canadian Humanitarian to fund an educational center in Kality, through our sponsorship program.

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Since our announcement, the team in Ethiopia has been busy getting the Vulnerable Children Society’s Love and Hope Center up and running. We recently received an update from Canadian Humanitarian, regarding the progress in Ethiopia that has been made over the last few weeks.

Canadian Humanitarian has leased a 490 square meter building that has one large room, several smaller activity rooms, and two offices. Vulnerable Children Society is covering the cost of renovating and furnishing the compound.  The renovations are almost done: the team is now working on the plumbing in the shower and toilet house.

The Canadian Humanitarian representative in Ethiopia has received a picture of the Love and Hope Center sign that was made by the Vulnerable Children Society – he loves it! According to him, the words in Amharic are powerful. He has printed the picture of the sign and hung it in the center for all to see while they wait for the actual sign to be brought to Ethiopia by the Canadian staff soon.

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Most importantly, all of the children in the program have been registered for school, and started attending classes last week. Prior to this, the school supplies that were generously donated by our supporters in Canada and transported to Ethiopia by our volunteers were distributed to the children and their guardians by the Love and Hope Center staff.

We look forward to posting pictures of the Vulnerable Children Society’s Love and Hope Center in the near future!

BACKGROUND

Previously, Canadian Humanitarian had made a long-term commitment to put seventy kids through school, all the way to the post secondary level, through its sponsorship program. Each Canadian Humanitarian sponsor is assigned to one child, and their sponsorship fees cover uniforms and school registration fees.

Recognizing the tremendous benefits of taking a holistic approach to child development, Canadian Humanitarian wanted to enhance the support provided to the kids in the program, by welcoming them to an educational center every day where they would receive hot meals, tutoring and medical services. Following months of carful negotiations, the Vulnerable Children Society committed to funding this important facility, which we named the Love and Hope Center (Fikir Tesfa in Amharic.)

Get involved… become a Love and Hope sponsor!

ABOUT KALITY

Located on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Kality is a community of displaced people, many who live in slum-like conditions. The unemployment rate is exceptionally high and poverty is wide-spread – its residents are among the most vulnerable in the region. We’re confident that by joining forces with Canadian Humanitarian, we’ll have a significant, long-term impact on the lives of seventy deserving kids and their families, through this enhanced sponsorship program.