Monday, October 11, 2010

REPORT FROM THE FIELD ...

A few weeks ago, Children's Hopechest had a team in Ethiopia and they were able to visit "Trees of Glory" care-point.

This care-point serves 84 orphaned children that are living in extreme poverty.  Prior to the intervention of the government and the care-point, many of these children had been "sold" to local livestock owners as indentured servants.  Living night and day in the fields with the cattle they were tasked to herd, with minimal food and no school - for $12 a year in pay.  (That's not a typo - $12 PER YEAR.) 

It sounds harsh, and it is, but to the relatives who are caring for them after their parents died, it means the difference between starvation for all the kids in their care, or a small income to help feed their families.  A tough choice.  A tough life.  A hopeless existence, with no mom or dad to love them and protect them, and no education to change their lot in life.

Earlier this year, the government approved the establishment of the care-point in this remote village, and 84 orphaned and starving children now have the privilege of attending the care-point for safety, security, food, clean water, medical care, clothing, education and Christian discipleship.  Last week, a school was opened at the care-point and for most of these kids - they are attending school for the first time in their lives.

Nick Irvin and his wife, Jessica, sponsor a child at Trees of Glory, and Nick was in Ethiopia a few weeks ago.  This is his report ...

I recently had the opportunity to travel with a Children's Hopechest team to various care-points in Ethiopia. We were able to take a side trip to Trees of Glory while we were there. I was excited to go and meet our sponsor child Meseret, but unfortunately, we visited on a holiday so none of the kids were there that day. Although it was disappointing to miss the kids, it gave me a good opportunity to survey the land and the facility.

Trees of Glory is set in a beautiful and remote mountainous region of Ethiopia about 2 hours North of Addis Ababa. It is definitely rural with the nearest market being about 30 minutes away from the care-point. Housing is the traditional circular huts grouped in village settings. It is evident that the surrounding community has great need.

Some of the traditional circular huts made from mud and dung, near Trees of Glory.

We were able to meet with the care-point director, Simret, and her care-point staff.  Simret lives on the property in a very modest home constructed of bamboo walls and a tin roof, with her 5 adopted children. She has such a huge heart and is eagerly pouring her life into this project and the kids that she is serving.

Simret's home on the property at Trees of Glory.  She is at the care-point 24/7
to be available for the children.
 

Simret (front row, white shirt) and her staff that serve the 84 children at the care-point.

The staff gave us an update regarding their most pressing needs. One of the greatest concerns is obtaining a clean water supply. At this time, there is no functioning water source in place. There is an existing well that was dug about 9 years ago, but is not currently usable. The staff is not clear on weither it will be best to try to salvage the existing well or dig a new one.  (The well is currently being assessed to determine if it can be refurbished or if a new well needs to be drilled.)

The other issue with the well is that it is at the bottom of the property separated from the school by a piece of land that is currently assigned to Trees of Glory, but not actively in use. If Trees of Glory does not utilize this land, the government is authorized to resume ownership of it. The staff explained that they need cattle and other livestock to graze the field and occupy the land in order to continue to claim it as a part of Trees of Glory. The water and the land projects seem to be paramount at this time.  (The livestock would also be an income source and food source for the care-point to help make the care-point more self-sufficient.)

I was also able to see the school and other buildings on the property. All of the buildings are concrete block construction with tin roofs and concrete floors. There is no electricity and no running water in any of the buildings. The school is a modest classroom consisting of a teacher's desk, rows of benches and a 3 x 4 foot chalkboard. It is definitely the bare minimum of what is needed and I look forward to working with Karen Wistrom and all the sponsors to pool our resources and provide the additional classroom materials that the kids will need.

Overall, I believe the facilities and surrounding property to be an excellent site for serving the children in this area. While there is much to be done, the potential at Trees of Glory is outstanding! I believe God can and will do great things in the lives of the children and the families that will be served there and I, along with my wife and family, look forward to continue working with Children's Hopechest and the other sponsor families to support this community.  ~ Nick Irvin ~

From Karen:  It's great to get Nick's first-hand assessment of the care-point and I'm thankful for the time he was able to spend with the staff!  Although EVERY child has been matched with a sponsor family who is providing for their basic needs, there is still much to be done!  I will be leading a team of 18 people to Ethiopia in 4 weeks, to spend time with the kids at Trees of Glory and Kind Hearts care-points and to deliver a care-package, a letter and photos to each child from their sponsor family!!  Four members of our travel team will be lending their construction experience to the care-point to fix roofs and windows and doors - to make the care-point and the classroom safer and more habitable for the kids. 

We are still raising funds to purchase the construction supplies and materials.  Time is short - we leave in 4 weeks - and we still need to raise about $1500 so we can purchase the materials before we arrive. 

To help with this project, please go to http://www.hopechest.org/, click on "GIVE", select "Designated Gift" and enter the account code ET101101-PROJECTS in the notes area.  Send me a quick email if you are able to donate for this project at kjwistrom@yahoo.com

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