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Saturday, February 23, 2013

First Time Sledding - African Style

My plane touched down in Minneapolis only a few hours ago but my mind is still processing all the information, ideas and inspiration shared during the last few days at the Africa Partner's Conference in Colorado, developed by Children's HopeChest.

Africa country directors, Tesfa (Ethiopia), Joseph (Uganda) and Jumbo (Swaziland), were here in the USA to meet with the HopeChest staff and CarePoint managers from across the country.  Together, we spent the last few days, deep in conversation and meetings, sharing future vision and development projects, and engaging in a peer-to-peer learning program.  Truly inspirational and motivational!  Much has been accomplished and there is much more to be done!!

A blizzard hit Colorado on Wednesday night as many CarePoint managers/Sponsor coordinators were in transit to Colorado.  With a fresh blanket of snow, our guests from Africa got the opportunity to go sledding for the first time!

Tesfa (in the video) is our HopeChest Country Director for Ethiopia!  First time in the USA, first experience with snow, first time sledding!  Enjoy the video...

APC2013: Sledding from Children's HopeChest on Vimeo.

If you cannot view the video above - please click on this link

Here are a few photos from the conference ...with just a few of the people that advocate tirelessly for orphaned and vulnerable children around the world and develop incredibly effective programs that transform the lives of so many kids.  Presently in Ethiopia, over 3000 kids attend a HopeChest CarePoint with over 15 NEW CarePoints partnering with HopeChest in 2013!!!

At Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory, we now have nearly 400 children attending and sponsored - receiving nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship.  With basic survival needs being met, we are focused on helping these children THRIVE and SUCCEED as they become young adults.  Equipping them to become the future leaders of their community, country and to be able to provide for their families!

 Kids thriving at Kind Hearts!

Kids thriving at Trees of Glory!

 HopeChest President and CEO, Tom Davis, giving the opening remarks and casting the vision.

 With Tom Davis ...

Part of the talented HopeChest team with the live twitter feed in the background. 

One of several break-out teams led by Ethiopia country director, Tesfa,
and HopeChest program manager Sarah Byrd.
  Sharing the development plan and vision
for impacting even more orphaned and vulnerable children in Ethiopia,
and equipping CarePoint managers to advocate effectively.  (Survive, Thrive and Succeed!)

 Part of the HopeChest team that I work with to develop programs for our
CarePoints (Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory) and to communicate that vision
(Juree Wilson, Partner Relations Coordinator, Ethiopia
and Matthew Monberg, Communications Manager).

Tesfa (Ethiopia country Director) and Juree Wilson (Partner Relations Coordinator - Ethiopia)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Connected in Tangible Ways ...

Every November, our team of volunteers travels to Ethiopia to work one-on-one with the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory care-points.  With nearly 400 orphaned or destitute children now attending the care-points (and receiving nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship) it's so important to make sure that each sponsor family and each child feels connected in tangible ways (in addition to writing letters back and forth, and the individual and community updates I provide throughout the year.)

One of those ways (to connect) is a project we do with the kids each year, that we can give to each sponsor family.  This year, we created hand-print cards with each child, and included a photo we took that day.  Each child made 2 cards (one to keep for themselves, and one to give to their sponsor family).  They were excited, knowing this card was going to their sponsor.

Each year, I divide our team of volunteers into smaller groups - and each group creates a lesson plan/activity to do with the kids.  One of our groups taught about how each child was uniquely created by God - and is therefore one of a kind, special, valued and loved by God.  Handprints were used to demonstrate that unique-ness.

The kids loved the interaction with the team, having their hands painted and pressing their one-of-a-kind handprint onto a card that would travel to the other side of the world to their sponsor family.  It was a new experience for the kids - and they giggled as they tried to spread their fingers and center their hand on the card.

Once we arrived home, the busy-ness of the holidays was upon us .. and then of course the demands of work and school.  But each evening, my daughters went through each card, looking up each child's name and making sure we had labeled each card with the correct child's name based on their photo. 

My oldest daughter, Emme, making sure each card was labeled
correctly and matching each photo to their profile photo.

Maea and Emme showing the handprint cards from our sponsor children
at Trees of Glory and Kind Hearts care-points.

All of those cards are now on their way to Children's HopeChest where they will be mailed to each sponsor family.  (Sponsors:  There were a few children absent that day, so if you don't get a hand-print card from your child, I apologize in advance.)

A few photos from that day ...

 Becky working with the kids to create hand-print cards. 
Becky has been part of our volunteer team for 3 years!
The kids at Trees of Glory LOVED interacting with Caleb from our volunteer team. 

 Emme painting hands at Kind Hearts.

 Some of the Kind Hearts kids proudly show their creations.

Apryl has been part of our volunteer team for 3 years as well. 
Painting hands and helping the kids press them onto the paper
is a great opportunity to touch and give individual attention to each child.

When Wossene sees the camera, he whips out a photo of his sponsor family to share with us! 

We enrolled 96 new children in October and there are still a few kids at each care-point waiting to be matched with a sponsor family.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact me at  $34 per month provides nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipeship for one child.