In September, Nick Irvin, who sponsors a little girl at Trees of Glory care-point, travelled to Ethiopia with a team from Hopechest. At this point, the sponsor program at Trees of Glory was still relatively new and they were in the process of hiring teachers so that they could officially open a school on the grounds at the care-point. Most of the children were still attending the government school - AND it was a holiday, so there were no kids at the care-point on the day the team arrived.
Although they were disappointed about the kids not being there, Nick and the rest of the team got a grand tour of the property and spent considerable time talking with the care-point director (Simret) and manager (Girma) about their plans and vision for the future.
It was at this point that Nick learned of the pressure from the government about land utilization on the valuable piece of property near the river. The care-point had future plans to use that property for a large vegetable garden and a livestock grazing area. The vegetable garden would provide food for the kids, jobs for unemployed people in the nearby village, and surplus vegetables would be sold at a small roadside market to provide funds for the care-point. They had similar plans for the livestock.
The government, who had allocated the property to the care-point in the first place, was now asking for immediate action and progress - or the property near the river would be allocated to another organization. The situation was also being discussed with the Hopechest staff in Ethiopia and we decided to move this project to the top of the priority list since the land near the river is so valuable to the future self-sufficiency of the care-point.
Nick, and his wife Jessica, asked to lead the fund-raiser for this project and they kicked it off in December calling it "Christmas Trees of Glory" Livestock Fundraiser. To purchase 5 cows and build a barn, we needed to raise $5,600 and sponsors and supporters sprang into action raising $5,330 in the few weeks before Christmas!! One family even donated enough to purchase 1 cow - and they "crossed" that off their bucket list!! (They explained that they had always felt it would be incredible to be able to provide a cow to a worthwhile organization in Ethiopia! Check that one off the bucket list!)
At this moment - we are still $270 short of our goal. If we can top off this fund in January, we can wire the funds to Ethiopia in February!! Please consider helping us finish this project!! Send me a quick email at email@example.com if you donate so I can track our progress in real-time.
- Go to http://www.hopechest.org/, click on GIVE.
- Under "Choose a Fund", select "Designated Gift".
- In the Reference Number, enter ET2119000 (9 characters)
- In the "notes" area, specify "LIVESTOCK".
Mitiku is a double orphan (both of his parents have died) and he lives at the care-point full time under the care of Simret (the director). I met him there in November and he was a very well-behaved, respectful and sweet boy who was genuinely happy to see us, spend time with us, and soak up every ounce of love and attention we could give. He played soccer with us, used crayons for the first time, jumped rope, watched a puppet show about the birth of Jesus, and made sure he was right in the middle of every activity.
When we arrived at the care-point on the second day, he turned around on his bench in the classroom and waved heartily, with an expression on his face that said "Oh finally - THERE you are!" like we had come back to spend time specifically with him (which of course, we had come back specifically for him ... and the other 99 children!) :)
In the photo below, we had brought oranges for the care-point and Girma sliced them and was passing out the juicy quartered oranges to each of the kids. Mitiku glimpsed me in the distance, and ran over to show me the orange, offering to share it with me. Motioning that I was full - I gestured for him to eat it ... and he bit into it with relish, thoroughly enjoying the sweet juices!
When Nick and Jessica saw the photo of Mitiku, who was now being sponsored by Nick's parents, Jessica emailed me saying "WE KNOW HIM!!!"
On that day in September, when Nick visited Trees of Glory, there was a lone child that followed the group from a distance. Remember that all the kids that were enrolled at the care-point were not there that day due to the holiday - they were home with their families and care-givers. But this little boy didn't have a family, and he was "hanging around" the care-point because he had nowhere else to go.
He didn't get too close, he was quiet and reserved, but he was curious, so he followed the group as they got the tour of the expansive grounds. Toward the end of the visit, Mitiku became a little more confident and came closer to the group. Nick was able to invite him over with a smile and kick a soccer ball around with him. As the group was saying "good-byes" to Simret and Girma, Mitiku quietly approached and presented a handful of flowers, and Nick snapped this photo.
And now 4 months later, Mitiku is enrolled at Trees of Glory, going to school for the first time in his life, and getting tucked into bed at night in a safe, secure and loving "home", and his dreams are full of hope for his future. And the man he met that day at Trees of Glory - is the son of his sponsor family!
When Nick saw the picture of Mitiku and recognized the little boy he had met that day, with amazement he said, "I guess that makes him my brother!"