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Stories of African children orphaned by aids

Ethiopia is home to one of the largest populations of orphans in the world: 13% of children in Ethiopia are missing one or both parents. That’s 4.6 million orphans – 800,000 of orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

World Vision created the following two-minute 20 second video. Its message is compelling. I hope it will touch your heart and encourage you to get involved.

http://youtu.be/z1g_Q7s3atU

Progress report on Ethiopia Trip

map_ethiopiaIt’s getting real. I just purchased our plane tickets to Ethiopia! We’re starting to check more things off our list. Right now we’re working on practical items such as:

  • Renewing passports
  • Purchasing travel health insurance
  • Getting immunization shots and antimalarial medication
  • Finalizing our lodging / where we’re going
  • Organizing our packing list
  • Raising support to buy clothes, food, medicine, supplies and toys for orphans

I’m working on line up key meetings with groups that align with our vision that we want to support and build relationships with. We have two groups that we’ll be connecting with while in Ethiopia. More to come.

I’m excited that we’ll be connecting with Bring Love In while we’re in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They have an amazing story. Bring Love In is a community (not just an organization) of people who are working together to bring love in to the orphans and widows of Ethiopia. They connect orphans who are given to them by local authorities, and widows from within local Christian church communities, to create new forever families here in Ethiopia.

Another group we’re connecting with is Resurrection Orphanage & Center. They provides for orphaned and abandoned children in Nekemte, Ethiopia (about 240 miles away from Addis Ababa) by meeting the basic needs of shelter, food, clothing, basic medical care and spiritual education and training.

I’ll be writing more about the groups we’re connecting with in Ethiopia and sharing their stories. Stay tuned.

Overall, we’ve made a lot of progress this week! Please pray for us to have wisdom as we complete our plans.

Love Impacts a Child’s Brain Size

I came across this report highlighting the results from a new study titled, “Brain Scans Show the Impact of a Mother’s Love on a Child’s Brain Size

The report states , “Neurologists say that the latest [brain] images provide more evidence that the way children are treated in their early years is important not only for the child’s emotional development, but also in determining the size of their brains.”

I’ve been continually thinking about all orphans and vulnerable children who need loving homes. Science has shown a link between love and child development in research on going back to observations on maternal deprivation. But we need to take this knowledge and do something for children in need.

Let’s help orphans who have no homes and nobody to care for them know that they are precious and worthy of love. Let’s help these vulnerable children get their basic needs met and find loving mothers and fathers. Love is the answer. Get involved.

“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.” ― Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home

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Starting Forever Families Project in Ethiopia

Let me start by saying, I don’t have allusions to save the world or start a movement. I am an ordinary person who loves Jesus. The Forever Families Project and upcoming trip to Ethiopia all started with a dream I had two years ago at an ARC conference.

In the dream, I saw a clear picture of the Earth, the continent of Africa quickly zooming into the country of Ethiopia until it reached ground level. Then, I saw children in distress that had nobody to help them or love them. They were forgotten ones.

What was different about this dream was not that it happened while I was awake (which was memorable in itself). The difference was that I knew immediately that I needed to do something.

I was reminded of James 1:27: “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Until this dream, I had no personal connection to Ethiopia besides what I heard or read on the news. I didn’t know anyone who had been to or was from Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is home to one of the largest populations of orphans in the world: 13% of children in Ethiopia are missing one or both parents. That’s 4.6 million orphans – 800,000 of whom were orphaned by HIV/AIDS. (UNICEF) This is old data from 2005 and it appears the problem is growing. Others say it’s smaller but in any case it’s a huge issue.

There’s a lot of back story that I’m leaving out. I’m sure I’ll talk about it in future posts over time. I always have loved kids and I love being dad to three beautiful daughters (Maddie, Abby and Lydia). They are a blessing from God and bring joy to my life.

Orphans in Ethiopia are in desperate need of a big solution. Big solutions require big visions. So here’s ours.

Our vision to love and serve orphaned and abandoned children in Ethiopia to help them remain with their birth families or connect them with loving forever families through local adoption. I have a dream that all these vulnerable children will have loving homes, education, medical care and a hope for their future.

In addition, we want to do “orphan prevention” which is means we connect with families who are very close to having to give up their children because they cannot afford to keep them (these vulnerable children often have extended family who can’t afford to care for them either) and we give them some financial support each month to help make ends meet.

Ethiopia also needs economic development. Currently, the Ethiopian economy is driven by agriculture (accounting for 80% of employment) but radical deforestation combined with period’s drought and is a major cause of extreme poverty. This problem is being addressed by groups like The Eden Projects which we support.

Also, we want to help business development (think small businesses growth) by empowering young entrepreneurs to ultimately have a positive impact on orphans in the society. I’ll share more on this later.

None of these solutions can be done with a dump money and run approach. This vision is not about a hand outs. It’s about giving a hand up and empowering Ethiopians to address challenges right from the start. My goal isn’t to start another organization. I’d much rather connect with great organizations that already exist and are doing good work.

Still, I have no idea how this vision is going to happen. I’m not sure where this dream will lead me or my family but I know it’s much bigger than us and can only happen if others get involved and dream with us.

I am planning to take my daughter (age 15) to Ethiopia in December. I’m excited to see kids empowered to help kids. They have a heart for helping others and this is a project that they are leading and doing too.

I am currently searching for ministries and groups for us to plug into while we’re in Ethiopia and start building relationships and see what difference we might make. We’re planning to leave for Ethiopia on December 24th and return January 7th. This is our first trip and an initial step to starting key relationships.

Please consider getting involved.