Sunday, July 29, 2012

Critical Project Completed at Trees of Glory!

A long-awaited project at Trees of Glory CarePoint in Ethiopia is now fully operational and benefitting the kids and the surrounding community!! 

Upon our return from Ethiopia last year, Buffalo Covenant Church in Buffalo, MN asked some of our travel team members to provide an update on our recent experiences in Ethiopia and the church raised funds during the Christmas season to fully construct and stock a poultry farm.  With the recent completion of the well project at Trees of Glory, the poultry project could now be completed.

This project is important because it is a critical step toward self-sufficiency, not only for the CarePoint but also for local families who are living in extreme poverty - with no employment and little access to nutritious food.  Not only will the poultry farm provide a very important source of protein for the kids (meat and eggs) but it will also provide this valuable food source to the local market.  It will also provide employment opportunities and an income source for families who are being taught how to rear chickens for their own food source and income source!!

Whenever our team or any visiting team travels to Trees of Glory CarePoint, we always bring fresh fruits and vegetables from the capital city of Addis Ababa because they are not available in the local markets.  The same is true with chickens and eggs - they are just not available in the local market and the surrounding villages will benefit greatly from the poultry farm at Trees of Glory CarePoint.

Thank you to Buffalo Covenant Church for supporting this critically important project in Ethiopia!!

Construction on the main poutry building began in March. 


The traditional building method of eucalyptus trees and mud construction (coated with cement) was selected for its insulating properties because night-time temperatures can get too cold for poultry.



 A view of the spacious interior before the chicks arrive.

 300 young chickens arrive and are carefully reared with consultation and
training from experts to make sure they remain healthy and productive.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Medical Check-Ups - Ethiopia

My good friend, Kristin Roach, was recently in Ethiopia (in June) to work with Kebron, a CarePoint that she coordinates with Children's HopeChest and she was able to visit Trees of Glory along with a medical team from the USA.  Kristin was part of our volunteer team back in November of 2010, and she was thankful to be able to see the kids at Trees of Glory, the progress at the CarePoint and Simret (the director).

Each year, Bob Ruzicka from Colorado, leads a team of nurses to Ethiopia to conduct check-ups and medical care for the kids.  Kristin and her son, Dalton, were quickly shown the ropes and took part in the medical check-ups for the kids.

There were a few kids with ear infections or eye infections, and a few kids with fungal infections which were all treated by the medical team.  The CarePoint staff was provided with instructions and a full course of medicine for each child that needed antibiotics.  A few children required follow-up care and thanks to our medical fund (provided by sponsor families and donors), that care was provided immediately.

Here is a note from Kristin, about her experience at Trees of Glory:

When making my itinerary for my trip to Ethiopia, it had to include a return visit to Trees of Glory!  I just fell in love with the children there, the beauty of the location and of course Simret (the CarePoint director)!  I was especially excited to find out that we would be able to visit with a medical mission team.

The kids line up, waiting for their medical exams.

We partnered with Bob Ruzicka who has made previous visits to Children's HopeChest CarePoints doing medical exams.  We were fortunate to also have Yewbi with us.  She is the person who started Kebron CarePoint.  She also happens to be a nurse practitioner. 
When we arrived at Trees of Glory, the kids were all waiting for us.  They greeted us with a beautiful little song.  After introducing the team, we got down to work. 
We set up stations for the kids to come through.  Bob and Yewbi were at the first station.  They listened to the kids’ hearts and lungs, checked ears, eyes, nose and throats. 

After that, they moved to the station where I was working.  I was doing skin and feet exams.  I checked arms, legs and torsos for any rashes, sores or infections.  After that, I checked their feet.  Working on their feet was such a humbling experience.  Their little feet were smelly, dirty and often had calluses on their toes from wearing shoes that didn’t fit. 


The kids are always most excited about getting a sticker!

We would take wipes and start scrubbing their legs and feet.  Often it would take a few wipes to really get their feet clean.  The best part is when we would get a little giggle from being ticklish on the bottom of their foot!  We checked for any fungal infections around their toes and used anti-fungal cream when needed.

After they were all clean, we sent them to the next station to get lotion on, including a little hand and foot massage, nails painted for the girls (and even some boys!) and a sticker.  The children really loved the special attention and pampering they got.  As a matter of fact, some of them would take off their stickers and hide them so they could try and sneak back through the line again!




There was such a sweet spiritual aspect to cleaning their feet.  When I was praying about my trip and making plans as to what to do with the kids, I felt God was prompting me to wash their feet, as Jesus did.  I didn’t really know how to go about doing this.  Their isn’t ready access to clean water still in many places and it didn’t seem right to me to use bottled water to wash their feet.  I just rationalized it to myself to not do it. 
God is so patient with me!!  Even though I had convinced myself that it didn’t make sense to do this, He provided a way.  So, I picked up their little dirty, smelly feet and tenderly scrubbed them clean.  The smiles on their faces were precious to me.



Friday, July 13, 2012

waiting and watching and wishing ...

There's an uncomfortable truth that settles in when we are in Ethiopia working with the kids at our CarePoints.  Kids that have come to know and rely on a full tummy every day, water that won't make them sick, teachers and care-givers that love them and guide them, and medical care when they need it.  They laugh and play with energy and abandon because they have hope for their future.

The uncomfortable truth is revealed when you look around the edges of the CarePoint and see thin, dirty kids waiting and watching and wishing.  










Occasionally a child braves the walk across the dusty ground while we are there and plaintively asks for food.  We respond immediately all the while knowing that it is a temporary fix.




Other times I have watched mothers or old stooped grandfathers hide themselves in the bushes and push their kids toward us.  My heart breaks every time because it is then that I realize how many more kids we could be helping.

Without enrollment at Kind Hearts, these kids suffer chronic malnutrition and chronic illness.  If they survive, most will barely eke out a living working as a daily laborer (hard manual labor for pennies a day) when they can find work, and that cycle of poverty will continue.  Their days are filled with chores and many kids are already working for pennies by hauling water or carrying firewood for families who can afford to have a child do it for them.







Our four small classrooms at Kind Hearts are overflowing with the 150 kids currently enrolled in the program.  But with the construction of a new school building with 4 more classrooms, we could serve 150 more kids!! 

150 more kids that will no longer hover at the fringes, watching their friends, neighbors or siblings eat a full lunch, drink a tall glass of clean, pure water and then skip into the classrooms for their daily lessons that will set them on the path of self-sufficiency - for themselves and their future families!

There are hundreds more orphaned and destitute kids in the area that is served by Kind Hearts and we have families wanting to sponsor - we just don't have the space to serve, care for, feed, clothe and educate 150 more kids ... yet.

With your help (if we can raise the funds in July), we can have a new school building built and ready to enroll more kids at the new school year in September.  More kids who will be provided with nutritious meals every day, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship.

Temesgen is excited to have his little brother Habtamu enrolled with him at Kind Hearts.

We have kids in the program right now who still have siblings at home who we could enroll in the program.  I have watched kids hold onto a banana or half a chunk of break to take home for a hungry sibling.  Time is short to meet our goal of enrolling more kids in September!

Please consider and pray about funding this very important project at Kind Hearts.  Click here to make a secure donation to the Kind Hearts school building.  Your funds will go directly and only to this project  http://donate.hopechest.org/goto/karen

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How we can change the world!


There are so many reasons why I volunteer for Children’s HopeChest and spend hours and hours during evenings and weekends coordinating the sponsor program and managing capital projects for Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory CarePoints in Ethiopia.  One of the main reasons is because I believe so strongly in the power of education – I believe it can transform lives and help these kids break free from the grinding poverty that has persisted from generation to generation.


I am especially excited about the opportunity that girls are getting at our CarePoints!  Throughout sub-Sahara Africa, millions of children never get the opportunity to go to school and more than half of those children are girls (some statistics say that number is as high as 70%). 


Ethiopia and other African countries have made significant progress in opening the doors to education for more children by creating government schools with low or no school fees, however the books, supplies, uniforms and testing fees are still too much for some families to afford.   I personally know of many families with multiple children where 2 kids work to earn money for the other 2 kids to attend school for one year.  Then they switch the next year.  They recognize the importance of education and are willing to take twice as long to educate their children.


Many families have to make a choice and can only afford to send one child to school.  In those cases, it is the oldest male child who attends school while the younger siblings stay home.  In many of these situations, girls are needed to help with the household chores which often include walking several miles each day to carry water home to the family.  I regularly see entire groups of girls (not in school) walking for miles to the nearest well with a large yellow jug to bring water home to their families.



Study after study has shown the value of an education for boys and girls alike!  For girls specifically, who are usually left out of the education equation, the statistics are life-changing!  Without an education, girls must rely on others for their basic survival.  They are more susceptible to trafficking, abuse or early marriage (at age 14-15).  HIV rates hit girls the hardest too as 75% of 15-24 year olds living with HIV in sub-Sahara Africa are girls.

Early marriage means more than the fact that a girl is not in school – it means she is likely to be pregnant soon.  For young girls, pregnancy is a leading cause of death.  And IF she survives childbirth, her poor health and likely malnutrition have a direct impact on the health and survival of her child(ren). 

There are countless excellent sources of information about the critical importance of education in developing countries but one of my favorite sources is a site called girleffect.org.  Here are a few facts …

  • Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70% are girls.
  • When a girl in a developing country receives seven or more years of eduation, she marries 4 years later and has 2.2 fewer children.  (As she becomes older, her body is more capable of pregnancy and childbirth and her children will be healthier – higher birth weight.)
  • An extra year of primary school boosts girls’eventual wages by 10-20%.  An extra year of secondary school, 15-25%.

  • When women and girls, earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families as compared to 30-40% for a man.  (A mother with an education, makes it a priority to educate her children, boys and girls alike!)

An excellent 2 minute video from girleffect.org ...




At Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory CarePoints in Ethiopia, we now have nearly 300 children enrolled in school who would not normally have the opportunity to go to school!  Exactly 50% of those kids are girls!!!




Here’s how it breaks down at each CarePoint: 
At Kind Hearts, we have 137 kids in the program, 64 are girls ages 4-12 and 73 are boys ages 4-13.  
At Trees of Glory (which is a rural population where girls are less likely to be in school) we have 139 kids in the program, 74 are girls (ages 2-16) and 65 are boys (ages 4-14). 
When you add up the total enrollment, we have a total of 276 kids, 138 girls and 138 boys!  A complete coincidence but an equality that I love to see!

At the moment, we have plenty of room at Trees of Glory to continue expanding our enrollment, but at Kind Hearts our 4 small classrooms are overflowing with nearly 150 kids.  A new school building will enable the CarePoint to expand and double the number of children! 




At Kind Hearts alone, with a new school building, we can expand from 150 to 300 children who will receive nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, EDUCATION and Christian discipleship.

If we can raise the funds for the new school building in the month of July, we still have time to build a new school by September to enroll more kids at the new school year. 
Please consider making a donation to this very critical project. 
Click to the Kind Hearts school donation page at http://donate.hopechest.org/goto/karen.  You can also click to this page to see our progress on the fund.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4th of July FUN!!!!

Normally, I love to sleep in on weekends (or holidays) but when we go to the lake, its nice to get up early while the lake is still calm and smooth.

Jay heading off for a morning paddle around the lake on the SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) - before the lake gets really busy with 4th of July revelers.





When he gets back, I then take it out for a leisurely paddle.  This morning I followed a pair of loons and their juvenile chicks and got to listen to them call back and forth to each other around me!


The SUP is a great way to pass the time for the kids too.  They try to get on it all at once and balance.





"C'mon kids, let's go out on the boat!"

Immediately they respond with ... "I want to go tubing!  I want to go wakeskating!  I want to use the kneeboard!"  I told them, "Settle down, you can do whatever you want today!"

Wesley got a mischievious grin on his face and said, "I want to go ice-skating!"

Good luck with that!  (It's 102 degrees today and the humidity makes it feel like a heavy, hot, wet blanket.)  The only way to combat the heat and humidity (other than air conditioning) is to be able to relax and play in the water - which we did.









Maea waiting for friends to arrive.






We squeezed in some fishing (of course!)


Just as I got in the water, Wesley yells for me to get my camera - he's got a BIG one on the line!



I got settled in the water again, only to have Jayden yell for me because now he caught a big one.


A little snack in the shade and then back to the lake.





The 4th of July boat parade!



It's a busy lake on the 4th of July!



A lite lunch and then relaxing in the shade.




Maea said, "Mom I feel bad for you because you are always taking pictures and are never in the pictures, so I took this one of you."



My sweet thoughtful girl.  Then I reminded her that we did have a picture of me ... right after I fell off the wakeskate. (below)