It’s Christmas Eve and we’re traveling to Ethiopia today. Abby and I are excited to finally begin this adventure together!
As I write this post, we’re in Frankfurt, Germany on our way to Ethiopia. I’m feeling grateful for the support and prayers of friends and family who we will miss this Christmas. To me being able to go on this trip to love and help orphans with my daughter is the best Christmas gift ever. I thank God for making it all possible.
I wanted to give an update on our trip and how this connects with our vision for the Forever Families Project.
We’re connecting with four great groups while we’re in Ethiopia who align with our vision and help vulnerable children and orphans. Even though we have these plans, I’ve wanted to keep our agenda open. We are really hoping to begin new friendships, be a blessing and go where God leads us.
The first person we’re meeting is Mekebib Desta in Addis Ababa. Mekebib leads Emmanuel Light & Life Church and they have a ministry to help children who live on the streets of Addis Ababa. They minister out of their own poverty to help orphans and vulnerable children get their basic needs met and know the love of Jesus. It’s estimated that over 100,000 children live on the streets left to fend for themselves. Abby and I will get to spend two days with Mekebib’s team. Also, I’ve been invited to preach in Mekebib’s church.
The next group we’re meeting with is Embracing Hope Ethiopia that was founded by Jerry and Christy Shannon. Their focus is the poor, children, and orphans who live in a section of Addis Ababa known as Korah. This area of the city is very poor and is known as a forsaken place. It began as a leper colony and then the site of the city trash dump. It has a higher prevalence of poverty, crime, prostitution, and disease then many other areas of the city. We love that they have a focus to serve children and mothers in holistic ways to prevent more orphans. Abby and I look forward to meeting the Shannon’s and volunteering at their daycare center serving a 100+ children.
We’ll also be connecting with Bring Love In founded by Levi and Jessie Benker. Levi and Jessie have an amazing story which I encourage you to read in Levi’s book. It’s great. Bring Love In is a community 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. Abby and I are really looking forward to spending time with Levi & Jessie’s family. It’s going to be fun meeting them.
The last group we’re visiting with is Resurrection Orphanage & Center of Nekemte. They provide for orphaned and abandoned children in Nekemte, Ethiopia (located about 240 miles west from Addis Ababa) by meeting the basic needs of shelter, food, clothing, basic medical care and spiritual education and training. This is a new orphanage started by friends at our home church in Mn. Nekemte is a pretty large city of 103,000 people but this is the first orphanage we are aware of in the community. The need is great. Abby and get to bring new clothes for 10 children and money that was donated for the orphanage. We’re looking forward to spending time with the children and staff there.
If you are looking for a groups to provide year end donations, please prayerfully consider these worthy organizations. That’s all for now. More updates to come along with pictures by Abby who will be our photographer for this trip.
What is the best way to lift people out of poverty and help orphans? I think part of the answer isn’t more aid, it’s sustainable work.
Ethiopia needs economic development. Currently, the Ethiopian economy is almost all agriculture (accounting for 80% of employment) but radical deforestation combined with period’s drought and is a major cause of extreme poverty.
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.
This morning I read Levi Benkert’s post on, “Poverty, and the War We Can’t Afford to Loose“. In it, he shares a story of offering a poor woman they had aided for almost a year an opportunity to start a business with funding. She refused.
This was an offer for her to climb out of poverty and make enough money to get her children into a good house, and even help put three meals on the table each day.
I can’t understand why a person who has lived her life in poverty and offered a way out (via a business they are capable of running) would refuse this gift?
I’m naive about poverty because I’ve never been poor. I’m not sure if this woman would have responded differently if she were offered a job instead of a business. Only God knows.
I know from experience that many people are willing to work but few are ready to start and run a businesses. So that brings me to a question that I’m praying about…
What’s the best way to lift people out of poverty? Is it sustainable work or is it business and entrepreneurship? I think it’s both.
Part of our vision to help business development (think small businesses growth) in Ethiopia by empowering young entrepreneurs who will ultimately have a positive impact on potential families (who need jobs) and orphans (funding orphanages) in the society.
I read this Harvard Business Review article, “The Microwork Solution” and I think they are on to something.
“The social entrepreneurs in the new “impact sourcing” industry believe the answer is providing work, not aid. Their organizations hire people at the bottom of the pyramid to perform digital tasks such as transcribing audio files and editing product databases. Essentially, they do business process outsourcing that also boosts economic development.”
I’m not aware of anyone in Ethiopia doing something like this but I hope to find someone while we’re there. I’m praying for wisdom. If you have ideas or resources, please let us know.
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.
It’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:
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.
I’m getting excited about going to Ethiopia. But I’m not so excited about the shots though.
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.