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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Survive, Thrive, Succeed

Steve Voyen, Program Services Director for Children’s HopeChest was in Ethiopia at the end of March to meet with the HopeChest staff and to see the program progress at the CarePoints.  Part of his time in Ethiopia included a visit to Kind Hearts CarePoint and I asked him for an overview of his visit. 
From Steve Voyen:

While meeting with the staff at Kind Hearts, I noticed a sheet of paper stuck to the wall with a saying that caught my eye (I even took a picture of it).  It stated the following:
·         Don’t Just Hear – Learn To Understand
·         Don’t Just See – Learn To Observe
·         Don’t Just Think – Learn To Create
·         Don’t Just Take – Learn To Do

I was there to “hear” progress reports from the Children’s HopeChest Ethiopia staff and the staff at Kind Hearts regarding programs, capital projects and efforts on behalf of the children who attend  Kind Heart’s CarePoint.
And while I welcomed the report and the information, I cannot help but want to pass along the “understanding” that development work, whether child or community, is so very messy.  It is complicated.  Human development is never complete; it begins at birth and continues throughout one’s life.  The child development task is to equip children with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes they will need to take control of their own life.
Not only is it messy, but it is at its very core relational.  The heart of the Gospel is found in relationships.  The children at Kind Hearts, the ones in these very pictures, are surrounded by loving and caring individuals (and groups).   In some cases it is a grandma or other extended family member that loves, nurtures, and cares for them.  If they are really blessed they have a mom and/or dad speaking into their life, modeling and shaping who they are.  

Teachers, caregivers and disciplers speak into their lives on a regular basis, generating hope and providing guidance for their lives.  Sponsors, thank you so much for the letters you write that provide encouragement and hope to these wonderful children.  Your prayers, genuine interest, and love for these little ones are such an important contribution to their development.
Development takes time.  In fact, it takes a lifetime.  It takes commitment, staying the course and sticking with these children over an extended period of time.

I was at Kind Hearts to “take a look around” and as you can see by the pictures, I had the chance to capture a bit of what I was “seeing.”  I love to take pictures.  I love photos, especially of smiling children and I observed that a child’s smiling face reveals a lot.  At Kind Hearts, it is clear that this is a place where children can grow, a place where children are nurtured, a place where Children’s HopeChest personnel feel welcome and sponsor visitors are secure. 

On a trip like the one I just took to Ethiopia, I am there to provide leadership and support to the HopeChest Ethiopia Team.  I tend to do a lot of thinking.  Thinking about how, what, where, when, quality, effectiveness, stewardship, relationships, staffing, stakeholders, resources, and a lot more management-type thoughts.  In visiting Kind Hearts with my HopeChest Ethiopia colleagues, I remembered that HopeChest in cooperation with sponsor donor communities is attempting to “create” partnership. This partnership with established Ethiopian orphanages and drop-in centers similar to Kind Hearts assists in the following ways:
1. Challenges and mobilizes sponsors and donors to partner with Ethiopian nationals in a sustainable manner to create communities working together to implement holistic development programs for the benefit of Ethiopian orphaned and vulnerable children.

2. Supports survival of Ethiopian orphaned and vulnerable children as demonstrated by increased physical wellbeing. (To include outputs such as: food security, access to clean water, clothing, emergency medical care, bi-annual health check-ups.)
3. Establishes thriving Ethiopian orphaned and vulnerable children - exhibiting strong growth in their spiritual, cognitive and socio-emotional life. (To include outputs like: school supplies, uniforms, books, tuition supplements, tutoring, non-formal and vocational training opportunities, health classes, life skills training.)

4. Works to establish a “Succeed Phase” built on community based programming to increase the likelihood of long-term livelihood success for the orphans and their communities. (To include outputs like: leadership training, community income-generating programs, access to community micro-enterprise/micro-lending, agricultural initiatives, animal husbandry initiatives, mentoring programs.)
5. Establishes a community to community sponsorship relationship between sponsors and Ethiopian CarePoint communities built upon sustainable and sound development practice.

Most of what I captured during my walk around Kind Hearts is pictures of children in the classroom setting.  Which brings us to the final saying, and I total agree with this, “Don’t Just Take – Learn To Do.  Children’s HopeChest’s  “Thrive” and “Succeed” program components work to address the educational needs of orphaned and vulnerable children at Kind Hearts and throughout Ethiopia.  Educational and life skills outputs sought (and evident at Kind Hearts) are:

1.   School supplies
2.   School uniforms
3.   School books for orphans
4.   Transportation assistance in some cases
5.   Tuition supplements
6.   Tutoring support for select children
7.   Non-formal and vocational training opportunities
8.   Lifeskills learning opportunities
Steve Voyen with the HopeChest Ethiopia staff.

It was great to personally see the newly established library at Kind Hearts; such a fitting resource for helping Kind Hearts children “learn to do.”  Thanks again sponsors for stepping in to provide program resources in support of  “Thrive” and “Succeed” efforts to care for the orphaned and vulnerable children at Kind Hearts.

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