Sunday, January 30, 2011

The children are forever etched on her heart ...

Before our team of 17 people left for Ethiopia in November, each of us shared the same heartfelt concern for orphans, and each of us was drawn to Ethiopia for varying reasons.  But many of us had never met face to face before and had come to know each other only through cyberspace. 

Having had this experience the year before, where you tentatively meet for the first time in a rush of airports and baggage checks, and within a few days, you become like family, I knew what to expect. 

Parting is almost too quick and it leaves you reeling for a few weeks, trying to recover from jet lag - but also trying to wrap your mind and your heart around the things you have seen and shared on this brief trip.  By the time you start to make sense of things - you no longer have the easy opportunity to sit and share with those that shared each moment with you. 

I told eveyone in those first travel journey moments, "We don't know each other now, but by the end of this trip, we will be family and parting will be painful." 

When the plane lands in Washington DC, and spits out its travel-weary passengers - each person stands individually in front of the customs agent, and then one by one we straggle to retrieve the luggage we hope will be there.  The international baggage claim area is not a place to linger and say long good-byes.  There are uniforms and motioning hands directing each of us in different directions - to different airlines and different destinations and tight connecting flights and waiting families.

I stopped abruptly and dropped my bags when I realized I was about to be rushed through the doors where there would be no return - and I ran back to say a quick good-bye, give a hug, and a promise to stay in touch to each person on the team ... and then we were heading HOME.

I asked each person on the team, (when they were ready) to write about a specific experience or a profound moment on the trip that specifically impacted them.  Kristen Roach wrote to me with these reflections from the trip ...


"When we first returned from our trip, I felt like I was in an emotional vacuum. It was so difficult to try and process through our experiences of the week and also jump right back into "mom" role for my children. Having been to Ethiopia before for our adoption, I felt "prepared" for what we would see and do.

Boy was I wrong. While we did have the opportunity to visit an orphanage while there for our adoption, we didn't have the same connection or time with the children. This time we were going to not only hang out with them and do some fun things, we were going to be Jesus to them and show them the unconditional love of our savior. We were being Christ's hands and feet.

One of the things that struck me the most was the difference it made to the kids to show them love. Time after time, there would be a child who would look at us hesitantly, unsure of what to make of us, only to later be the one hanging on to my hand and crawling in my lap.

They were eager to give back the love they were being shown. Their sweet faces and eyes would just light up at my humble attempts to speak to them in Amharic. Never mind the giggles as I surely butchered my attempts at words! They were amazed at the surprises we brought and so appreciative of the smallest little trinkets. It was my honor to share all that I had, to bring them such delight. I wish I could have brought crates full of things. Things that we take for granted; toothbrushes, toothpaste, a new pencil or pen, or even a little lollipop, meant the world to them.

The children are forever etched on my heart. I will never forget their faces or the sweet feel of their arms as they were wrapped around my neck. I can't wait to go back and see them again!





I was also moved beyond words at Simret, the founder and director of Trees of Glory care-point.  The heart and passion she has for the children was obvious. She is truly an inspiration to me. She gave up her life in the city to really make a difference.

She showed me the small room that was not much bigger than a typical American household bathroom that she was living in. She had a small bed and a cabinet which held all of her possessions. This is sacrifice. This is what it means when Jesus asks us to be willing to give up any or all earthly possessions to follow Him. She is living out the commandment to care for the orphans. Worldly possessions have no place in her life. She is focused on teaching the children about Jesus and giving them a hope for their future.

It was so hard to say goodbye to her. I'll never forget standing in the room after she and Girma had prayed over us and said our goodbyes. When I stepped forward to hug her and thank her for everything, I found that the words wouldn't come and really just seemed completely inadequate. We just stood hanging on each other as the tears flowed. Words were unnecessary. We were just two women sharing the same passion and heart for God. I have no doubt Jesus was there sharing in our embrace.

I am deeply grateful for my experiences in Ethiopia. I will never be the same, nor would I want to. God has truly broken my heart over the plight of the orphan and I will spend the rest of my life doing whatever I can to care for them.

Thank you, Karen, for what you are doing. Lives are being changed because of you. Not only the children who now will have the opportunity for a better life, but the lives of those who you have encouraged or inspired to join along in caring for the orphan. I am in this journey with you!"


And we are in this journey together!  Kristen coordinates sponsors for a care-point in Kebron (about 1.5 hours south of Addis) that cares for and provides for 16 orphaned children and she is continuously searching and praying about ways to make even more of an impact.

Monday, January 24, 2011

There was one lone child there that day ...

UPDATE:  As of today, we have completed the fund-raiser for livestock and a barn for Trees of Glory care-point in Ethiopia!  THANK YOU!  Funds will be wired to Ethiopia and this will ensure that the valuable land near the river is secured for Trees of Glory - and a source of income and food for the care-point is now established!!

**********************

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 kjwistrom@yahoo.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".
With Nick and Jessica advocating so whole-heartedly for Trees of Glory, Nick's parents were also interested in sponsoring a child at Trees of Glory.  A few days ago, I received the profiles for the 26 newly enrolled children at the care-point and I matched Nick's parents with a child to sponsor, a little boy named Mitiku. 

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!"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Letters from Afar ...

Proverbs 25:25  Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.

The kids were buzzing with excitement when they arrived at the care-point on this day because Fikre (one of the Hopechest staffers in Ethiopia) was there with his team and he was standing in the front of the classroom with a stack of blue papers to hand out. 

The kids have learned that when Fikre arrives each week, there is something special in store for them ... it may be some time to talk with him and ask questions about difficult or sad situations they are dealing with, or maybe even sharing some exciting news with him.  He always makes time to talk with each child and let them know how special they are and how much God loves them - and he not only tells them - he shows them.

Whenever Fikre visits the care-point, he often brings letters from the sponsor families and he always sits the kids down for a Bible story or lesson from the Bible.  But on this day - in his quiet voice that makes the kids get really quiet and still so they can hear every word ... he is handing out the blue papers and helping the kids write letters to their sponsor families.  He surveys the room and with a little disappointment, he notices that there are a few kids absent from school (perhaps they are home sick?).  With over 100 children now attending the care-point, it's hard to schedule activities and make sure every child is there.

The kids aren't writing letters to just anyone ... they are writing letters to the people they call "mom and dad, sister and brother" from the other side of the world!  They are writing to the sponsor family that is providing for them so they can go to school and have nutritious food and clean water every day.  These are the sponsor families that have been writing to them regularly - who they have come to know through letters and pictures - and who sent them a care-package when I visited them in November.

Some of the kids had lots to say ... and they poured their thoughts and their hopes into their letter, wondering how long it would take before their sponsor family held it in their hands ...

About 3 weeks later ... the letters arrived in America!

Phil and Amber Wing sponsor a little boy named, Abel, who attend Trees of Glory. 


Amber wrote to me ... "I, of course, shed tears over our sweet letter! Our first one from him and it made my day. The line that completely took us out was this: "Pray for me to be a smart student. I would like to be professor." We just feel blessed BEYOND words to be a part of helping to make that dream come true! So thankful he will have the opportunity to do this because of the way God is using Trees of Glory and the people there in his life!"


Robin Wyatt and her family sponsor Tesfaye at Kind Hearts (shown below when he received his care-package from the Wyatt family in November).



Robin wrote ... "We did receive a letter from Tesfaye yesterday. I was so excited when I saw it..I was hoping we would get one as I saw some other people commenting on your facebook that they had received one. We opened it late last night after we got home from church ... I can tell you that the letter really impacted my kids. Especially my son Noah, who as you know was adopted from Ethiopia. There was a part where Tesfaye had written "I love you very much!" and Noah yelled out "I love you very much too Tesfaye!".
 
Tesfaye asked if we could come to Ethiopia and that part really got to me. I really want to go and wanted to go on the trip this year, but we found out we are expecting a baby at the end of July, so it is gonna be out of the question for this year, but I said in my heart - one day we will go to Ethiopia to see you Tesfaye, one day!
 
The other thing that really touched my heart was that he wrote prayer requests.  That is important to me because so often I pray for him and now I know more specifically what to pray for and about! I am so glad we got the letter - we look forward to lots more!"


Teri Keeler (her blog is HERE) sponsors Mita and Derebe at Trees of Glory (brother and sister).



Teri wrote ... "Earlier this week an overstuffed letter arrived in the mail from Children's Hopechest.  Little did I know - it was NOT any regular piece of mail...  THIS envelope contained two hand written letters from my kids at Trees of Glory - one from Mita (who is 5) and one from her brother Derebe (7)!!  I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the letters!  I mean I don't have any doubt that my money is specifically going to help these children - but to actually receive a LETTER from MY KIDS!?  SO EXCITING!!

Mita said, "How are you doing? Happy New Year! I am only a little child, thus I couldn't write much. I wish you success." How cute is that!? :) Then she said, "I need your encouragement" and her prayer request was, "Pray for me to be a good child and to fear God."

Derebe's letter said, "How are you doing whom I love? I wish you a Happy New Year and Merry Christmas. I wish to live with my mom but I couldn't. I live in others house with problems. Nothing is impossible to God." I had written him a letter earlier last year and told him to work hard in school because an education was very important. In this letter he said, "I need your advice to be a smart student" and his prayer request was, "Pray for my school and for me to be a good child."

It just warms my heart to know that I am a part of these two beautiful children - half a world away - getting the opportunity to go to school and learn with a full belly of food. Maybe they even colored these pictures with the crayons I sent them!?"


Our sponsor child, Mulunesh, attends Kind Hearts.  I met her for the first time over a year ago and then got to visit her again in November - and she got to meet my oldest daughter, Emmelyn.



Mulunesh wrote to us ... "I love you - my mom, my dad, my sisters and brothers.  Reading your letters makes me happy!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

TAKE CARE OF MY LAMBS

There's a powerful and compelling video that's been circulating on the web for a few months now. It's startling ... and convicting ... and compelling because it makes you consider the plight of orphans in a completely different light - in the glaring, revealing light of "what if that starving, scared, sick and desperate child was your son or daughter?"

The title of the video is "Depraved Indifference". It was only when I googled the title in order to email a link to a friend, that the definition hit me. Depraved Indifference is a legal term ...

To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant's conduct must be so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime. Depraved indifference focuses on the risk created by the defendant’s conduct, not the injuries actually resulting.

The legal definition struck a cord in me because there was a time when I could watch a video like this or hear first-hand accounts and it would disturb me for a moment ... but within minutes (if not seconds) it was relegated to a seldom visited corner of my mind and my heart. That's indifference.  And my lack of concern and action can have a direct impact on the life (or death) of that child.

When we adopted our two orphaned sons from Ethiopia, two years ago,  I could no longer watch a video like this or hear first-hand accounts without being deeply, deeply disturbed - not for a few moments, but for days and weeks and months. 

You see ... it's different now.

I can't look at those faces and not see the faces of my sons.  I can't look at those faces and not see the faces of my daughters and think ... what if?  What if something happened to me and to my extended family ... would somebody protect them and care for them and love them and provide for them?

In John 21:15-18 (after the resurrection) when Jesus spoke to Peter, who had denied him three times before his crucifixion, the Lord asked Peter three times to affirm his love for him. 

"When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Peter, "Do you truly love me more than these?" 

"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." 

Jesus said, "Feed my lambs." 

Again Jesus said, "Do you truly love me?" 

He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." 

Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." 

The third time he said to him, "Do you love me?"  Peter was hurt, because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" 

He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." 

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Why is a school uniform so important in Ethiopia???

Many mornings in Ethiopia, we were awakened by the outdoor loudspeakers playing songs sung by children.  Although we couldn't understand the words, we recognized the sing-song little voices and we put two-and-two together as we saw children streaming from all the different neighborhoods, gathering on street corners, and meeting friends as they walked to school. 

This is what a typical street looks like in Ethiopia as children
pour through the streets on their way to school.

We could tell that the kids went to different schools because of the different uniforms they were wearing.  From our perch on the balcony, we watched as all the colors merged, and they would pick out their friends and schoolmates, and soon the blue uniforms were walking together, and the green, and the red.

But these children, the ones with the school uniforms walking to school in the morning, are from families who have enough income to provide a valuable education for their children!  In Ethiopia, an education costs money (school fees are paid monthly) and school supplies and a school uniform are required. 

Orphaned children, or children from destitute families, cannot afford the monthly school fees, let alone the uniform, school supplies and books, and they often go without an education.  It is not uncommon for an older child to be in the same classroom as younger children (for example a 12 year old in 1st grade) because a child will work for months straight to earn enough to attend a month of school.  They start and stop as they are able to earn the money - because they know that an education is their chance to step out of the vicious cycle of poverty.  It is also common for one child to work for a year (herding livestock for example) while a sibling goes to school for a year - and then they switch off the next year.

At Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory care-points, every child has a sponsor family to provide this valuable education!!  Last year - when we had the first 68 children enrolled at Kind Hearts, sponsor families provided a school uniform for their child and the kids were SO EXCITED to have this treasured symbol of education.  Now they could walk to school proudly wearing the school uniform that signifies that they belong at Kind Hearts school AND that they are getting an EDUCATION!!!  Each child was measured, and uniforms were sewn and delivered.  Here are a few photos taken last February when Kind Hearts first got uniforms!

Here are the Kind Hearts kids wearing their tattered and mismatched clothing,
moments before the new uniforms arrived!

The school uniforms at the tailor's shop being sewn for each child!



One of my favorite photos from last year as the kids received their uniforms! 
The joy and excitement and pride are unmistakable.  Look at the two kids
in the backround - upper right part of this photo - as they compare each others uniforms!


When we visited Kind Hearts in November (a few days before we left for Ethiopia, we found out that the care-point had just enrolled 44 new children!), we could easily pick out the newest kids ... they were the children without a school uniform. 




The newly enrolled children are the ones who don't have a school uniform.

As soon as every child was matched with a sponsor family - we knew that we needed to provide uniforms for the new kids so they would feel completely welcomed and very much a part of the care-point!  Last weekend we announced a fund-drive for 44 school uniforms, and as of yesterday that fund has been fulfilled!! 

THANK YOU to everyone who made a donation to this fund!  The children will be so excited to hear the news!!  Funds will now be wired to Ethiopia, the children will be measured, and they will soon have the treasured uniforms that signify they are part of Kind Hearts school!

One other bit of news ... Remember the little boy at Kind Hearts who had the horribly painful abscessed tooth that was easily fixed with a $60 trip to the dentist?  (You can read more about him HERE.)


Yilbeltal after his trip to the dentist!  This handsome boy is so
mature and responsible and readily helps the adults with
the younger children at the care-point! 
It's tough knowing he was suffering in silence for so long!

We discussed this situation with the staff and care-givers at the care-point, and other than the cost of a trip to the doctor or dentist, transportation was the other challenge they identified.  We explained that if the staff recognizes that a child should see a doctor, we will make sure the funds are available to treat the child.  They should not hesitate to seek medical attention. 

But transportation was the other issue since a care-giver would need to leave the care-point with the child and navigate the many crowded taxis and buses to take a sick child to the doctor.  Vehicles are EXTREMELY expensive in Ethiopia, but the staff showed us a decrepit truck that is owned by Kind Hearts but does not run.  A mechanic provided an estimate to fix the truck so that it can be used as a reliable method of transportation for the care-point.  The estimate came in at $720 and immediately a few members from the November travel team provided the funds to fix the truck!!

 The broken-down truck sits on the edge of the property at Kind Hearts (behind the kids). 
It can now be fixed so that it can be used for reliable transportation for the care-point!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Exciting Progress at "Trees of Glory" in Ethiopia!

I love seeing pictures of the care-points as travel groups return from Ethiopia! 

Our staff at Trees of Glory care-point is determined to provide the best possible care - and to be able to provide services for MORE children.  Dave Held, from North Dakota, lead a team from his church to Ethiopia a few weeks ago and they visited Trees of Glory to get a good understanding of how an established care-point operates.  His blog post explains the time they spent with the kids at Trees of Glory (click HERE to see Dave's blog) and the progress being made at the care-point.

This was the kitchen at Trees of Glory several months ago. 
Much of the cooking was done outside on the concrete pad
with the hot African sun beating down on the cooks.


 While our team was in Ethiopia in November, we enclosed that concrete pad
expanding the kitchen significantly and providing much-needed shade.



As soon as the tin roof provided shade, the cooks moved into the building
to start cooking lunch for the kids!


This photo was taken two weeks ago as the work continues at Trees of Glory. 
They are now building a covered walk way between the kitchen and the building
that will serve as a lunch room (dining hall). 

With over 100 children now attending the care-point, this addition makes
serving the food and cleaning up after the kids much more efficient. 
When we were there in November, the kids were eating lunch in their
classrooms and food was transported to and from the kitchen. 
The dining hall and "attached" kitchen will be much more efficient!


One of the most important projects at Trees of Glory is the fresh water well. 
Presently, there is no fresh water source at Trees of Glory and water
is transported on the backs of donkeys to the care-point.
  With over 100 children at the care-point, water is a precious commodity
and it takes a lot of work and a lot of time to collect it and transport it!
  

Water is needed to wash dishes for over 100 children. 

Jugs (with a spigot) are placed around the care-point so the kids can wash up
after using the toilet, and before and after meals. 
(Above - the wash up area outside the toilet room.)


The kids have been taught the importance of washing their hands before they eat!

When our team was at Trees of Glory in November, we were shown the site
where a well used to be functioning.  When this site was abandoned in the 1980s,
the well fell into disrepair and was vandalized.  When the government
gave the land to Trees of Glory to develop as a care-point, the staff
at the care-point had hopes of re-drilling the well.  The concrete pad
in the foreground is where a generator will be placed to pump water
to the buildings on the property. 

Below this concrete bore-hole, plumbing pipes run to the buildings
which is a rare luxury in Ethiopia.  It has been determined that it will be the
most cost effective to bore the well in the same location
so that the plumbing pipes can be utilized.

This photo was taken two weeks ago! 
While the staff works with the government on the final drilling permits
and develops the final cost estimates, they have already begun
excavating (by hand) the area around the bore-hole so that they
will have access to the pipes once the drilling begins.

Water is critical for Trees of Glory and we will be fund-raising for this project as soon as we have final cost estimates.  If you are interested in donating or fund-raising for this project, please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It may be the first time in a long time that he felt loved by a daddy ...

It's truly a special day when a sponsor family meets their sponsor child for the first time - but it's even more special for their sponsor child! 

Jenn and Paul Cooper are in Ethiopia right now bringing home their adopted son, Daniel.  Jenn is a professional photographer and her pictures document truly beautiful moments on their journey to their son. Jenn and Paul contacted me about sponsorship because they wanted to be able to impact the lives of more children in the beautiful country of Ethiopia where their son is from!  Jenn and Paul sponsor Dagim and Jenn's parents sponsor his cousin, Habtamnesh.

For Dagim, it may be the first time in a long time that he has felt special and loved.  It may be the first time in a long time that he felt loved by a daddy.  I can see it in his smile as he wraps his arms around the man that is providing for him (and loving him and praying for him) so he can attend Kind Hearts.


Photo by Jenn Cooper
(Dagim hugs his sponsor dad, Paul, and the smile says it all!)


When I met Dagim and his cousin in November (see photo below), Dagim could hardly summon a smile for me.  It took some coaxing to get him to smile and giggle just a little. :)


He was a sad, melancholy little boy with the weight of the world on his little shoulders.  His cousin, Habtamnesh, kept her arm protectively around him at all times (and he kept his arm around her too).  She has a sweet, shy smile - but she was fiercely protective of him.  I found out that Dagim had recently lost both parents and he had been taken in by his aunt and uncle, who are very poor and are barely able to provide for the six children living in their home.

Both Dagim and Habtamnesh have just enrolled at Kind Hearts and their sponsor families provide funding for food, clothing, clean water, medical care, education and Christian discipleship at the care-point.  Please click over to Jenn's blog (click HERE) for more details about their trip to Ethiopia and their visit to Kind Hearts yesterday (and check out her incredible photography too)!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Making a difference for 44 more!!!

Just before we left for Ethiopia in November, we got the wonderful news that 40 more children had just enrolled at the care-point!  (Actually - there ended up being 44 new children!)  Kind Hearts had become stable and secure after 10 months of a reliable and established sponsor program, and more children could now receive the necessities of food, clean water, medical care and clothing - and the benefits of education, Christian discipleship and LOVE!

We could immediately tell who the new kids were!  They had already experienced the many benefits and nutritious food at the care-point for several weeks before we arrived - but they were the children without school uniforms!  But the hope in their eyes and the joy in their faces was the same as all the other kids!!

I'm thankful to be able to say that ALL of the new children at Kind Hearts have been matched with a sponsor family! 

At the moment we have 101 children enrolled at Kind Hearts and every child has a sponsor family!! 

(To all the families that have contacted me about sponsorship - I will be contacting you as soon as we have the profiles for all of the new children at Trees of Glory - hopefully as soon as next week!!  We currently have 84 kids at Trees of Glory and should have profiles on 21 new children soon!)

We will be raising funds for uniforms for the new kids at Kind Hearts, so they can proudly match the rest of their school-mates and have a much-needed change of clothes.  A school uniform (which includes a light blue sweater with a white long-sleeve shirt, and navy blue pants for boys and a dress or skirt for the girls) is $25.  We will need to purchase 44 more uniforms and if we end up with a little extra, we'll purchase a few spares for those kids who are especially tough on their clothes :) 



These are the Kind Hearts uniforms.  The kids are so proud of them! 
These photos were taken last February when the kids first got new uniforms. 
Now the 44 new kids need uniforms, to match their school-mates!


To donate, please go to http://www.hopechest.org/, click on GIVE. 

Under "choose a fund", select "DESIGNATED GIFT".

Enter $25 (or more).

For the Reference Number, specify ET2110000 (9 characters) and in the notes are specify "UNIFORM". 

It's very important to specify the correct Reference Number and specify "UNIFORM" in the notes area so the funds get designated correctly.  I will keep you posted on our progress on this fund!  (Please send me a quick email at kjwistrom@yahoo.com when you give and the amount so I can track our progress in real time.)  We need a total of $1,100 in this fund to be able to purchase uniforms for all the new children.

These are just a few photos of some of the new kids at Kind Hearts that we got to spend time with in November.  We created a care-package for each child while we were in Ethiopia - so that the new kids would not feel left out or overlooked as the rest of the kids got packages from their sponsor family!  Some of the kids were able to meet thier sponsor family that day (a member of our travel team) and others knew that they would find out about their sponsor family soon.

Dave hugs the little boy (Robel) his family is now sponsoring! 

Netsantet now has a sponsor family! 

Tigist now has a sponsor family! 

Zenebech now has a sponsor family! 

Hibist now has a sponsor family! 

Michael is matched to the little girl (Yikram) that he spent time with in Ethiopia. 
SHE is the one that decided he was to be her sponsor! :) 

Becky hugs her sponsor child, Derartu! 

Sarah met Yayineabeba and is now sponsoring her! 

Lindsey met Mekides and is now sponsoring her! 

 Monica met Kalkidan and is now sponsoring her!

 Demis now has a sponsor family!

 Selamawit now has a sponsor family!

Hunde now has a sponsor family! 

Biruk has been matched with a sponsor family! 

Habtamnesh and Dagim are cousins, and they have each been matched with a sponsor family!