Happy Mother’s Day (Antrosht)!

This Mother’s Day, I feel privileged to share with my readers that you (Ingrid Olson, Colleen Mullen, Tamara Buitenwerf, Betty Watts, Denise Livingston, Liz Parker, the women of EOR and the women in EOR and HopeChest leadership and so many to list here) have been honored with a very special gifts- the gifts of livestock, sewing machines and skill training, seeds and fertilizers and seed funds to start small business for widowed mothers in need in rural Ethiopia, Shanto and beyond.

Ethiopian families celebrate their Mother’s Day, called “Antrosht”, in the fall after the rainy season. Rather than fixing a day or weekend on the calendar, Ethiopians simply wait until the rains let up in October or November. Ethiopians celebrate by making their way home when the weather clears for a large family meal and a three day long celebration. For the feast the children bring ingredients for a traditional hash recipe. Girls bring butter, cheese, vegetables and spices while the boys bring a bull or lamb. The mother prepares the meat hash and hands it out to the family. After the feast, the mothers and daughters ritually anoint themselves with butter on their faces and chests. They dance while the men sing songs in honor of family and heroes. This cycle of feasting and celebration lasts two or three days.

In the villages like Shanto, Dale and Boricha, it is common to meet a widowed mother of four to seven children living in a one-room mud hut, with a single bed for her and for all her children. She is unable to feed her children, to buy school materials and clothing, health care and hygiene care materials for their children etc. Because she needs more assistance, her children drop out from school and go to fetch water and clean shoes in the small markets in the village.

One of our widows in her farmland for which we provided seeds and fertilize

The good news this Mother’s Day is that, slowly and surely progress is being made. In last year we provided 22 animals, 3 sewing machines and training, 8 sacks of developed seeds and 8 sacks of fertilizers for 32 widowed mothers in Shanto village. At present we are providing about 31 improved specious of cows and sheep  which are two times efficient than the local animals to 31 widows in Shanto with the funds provided by the Buitenwerf family through HopeChest.

In this fiscal year, we plan to include about 28 new widowed mothers  in our each project sites (Shanto, Dale and Boricha) through our Widows Hope Poultry and Livestock Development Project, Crops for Widows Project and Widows Hope Small Business Projects. And we also want to build sewing centers/shelters/ for widows in at least two project sites and provide with sewing machines and trainings to do their sewing works and to increase access to sell their sewing products in local markets.

Mother’s Day is that time of year where we honor those vital women in our lives who sacrificed so much for us- starting by giving life.

Thus, would you consider sponsoring one of our Widows Hope Projects (Widows Hope Poultry and Livestock Development, Crops for Widows, Widows Hope Small Business Projects) in honor of your Mom? You would be honoring a widowed mom who has got no one to honor her and providing a way for hope for herself and her child.

If you would like to sponsor one of our WHP projects in honor of your Mom, we would welcome that and we will be sure to recognize your mom and the gift you have given in her honor.

Would you also join us in praying for the moms in our WHP projects, that they would continue to know God’s love for them in ever deepening ways? If so contact our Grants Development Team (GAC) leader Colleen Mullen through her email at colleen@fovcethiopia.org for more information on our Widows Hope Projects (WHP) in Shanto and beyond and/or visit our website at www.fovcethiopia.org. Thanks!!!

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Desalegn Daka

Founder and Director, FOVC

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Merry Christmas to Partners and Friends

We at Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (FOVC) Ethiopia send our most warmhearted Christmas greetings and blessings to all our friends and highly valued partners.

In Ethiopia, we celebrate Christmas (Ganna in Amharic) on January 7 (Tahsas 29) instead of December 25. It is a day when families including small children attend church. In the church choirs sing and preachers preach the herald of Christ’s birth. After the church service is over the rest of the day is spent dancing, playing sport and feasting.

The day before Ganna, people (particularly Ethiopian Orthodox Church followers) fast all day. The next morning at dawn, every one dresses in white. Then everyone goes to early prayer and mass in the morning.

The foods enjoyed during the Ganna season include injera (a sourdough pancake like bread), doro wat (a thick spicy chicken or meat stew), vegetables, and eggs and cheese as well.

Though it is not large as westerns do for their children in Christmas, gift giving is also a part of Christmas celebration in Ethiopia. Children usually receive presents such as clothing.

Last year FOVC’s children in all the three project sites received backpacks filled with gift cards, school materials, personal hygiene care materials, toys and dolls from our main supporter Ethiopian Orphan Relief, Inc. This year we are raising funds to purchase new school uniforms for our children. If you are interested to donate for our school uniform project, please go to.

Meanwhile, we are thinking and praying for other poorest children around us whom we are not able to include in our programs due to the lack of resources and funds. We see that there are still immense needs to be fulfilled for the vulnerable children, who are the target of our H.O.P.E Child Sponsorship activities in Southern Ethiopia. There are children living frustrating lives, needing psychological, spiritual, financial and educational supports. Gifts, celebrations, joy and harmony are fluffy concepts for these children. For most of them Christmas is just another time of struggling – like any other day of the year. We have much work to do together in order to secure these children a fair and joyful childhood.

The board and staff of FOVC and me send our gratitude and thanks to our partners for your cooperation and continuous participation in our tenacious struggle to break the cycle of poverty and make the vision of FOVC come true:

 “… that enabling orphans, vulnerable children and widows to overcome poverty and to have the chance to become responsible, productive and happy individuals.”

Desalegn Daka,

Founder and Executive Director, FOVC

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An Observable Difference You Made in Widows’ Live in Ethiopia

The initial dream of FOVC-Ethiopia is ensuring that all orphaned children grow up in safe, permanent family, with access to quality education and the help they need to be success in their life. To this end, FOVC-Ethiopia provides holistic support to the children through its HOPE Child Sponsorship Program. Children are provided with hot meal in each school day, educational materials, hygiene and health care supplies, school uniforms and shoes, school fees and many more.

But, in Shanto, many children are living in extreme poverty in one parent home. In most cases, mothers are raising 4-7 children alone. The only properties which are left for the entire family from the widows late husbands are land and small traditional huts and hence their only opportunity to keep their family together is agriculture and agriculture only. However, when the normal agricultural cycle disrupted by factors like scanty rain fall, seeds for the next harvesting period will gone & the ability of the widows to buy seeds with better output in reference with the escalation of price of the seeds that emanates from shortage of supply of the required amount of seeds in the market, faces great difficulty. To tighten the gap associated with such conditions so that to keep children from becoming full orphans, FOVC drawn strategy to address the widows in abject poverty. Among the strategies is accessing seed crops and fertilizers for the widows at the project intervention sites in Southern Ethiopia.

Trunge Oyda is one of the widows who was provided with improved seeds and fertilizers in the last crop planting season. Now her farmland is full of maize crop is ready for harvesting and meanwhile she was provided with seed of red beans to blind with the maize and it is growing very well.

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Turunge has been using some of the maize for food since it was matured and she will collect the remaining to keep in store for the future use. Red beans will be collected soon after the maize crop is collected.

Shubure Bachore is another widow who were provided with improved seeds and fertilizer. She said it was difficult for her to find money to buy improved seeds and fertilizers and my land was idle for long time. But with seeds and fertilizers which was provided by FOVC I could sow my whole land and thanks to Lord my children will not be hungry this year. She said she will harvest the product and will keep it in store for the future use. She has also prepared the land to plant red beans.

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Marta Buche is another widow who was included in this program. She has big and fertile land but high prices of fertilizer and improved seeds where a big problem for her. Through the program she was provided with enough fertilizer and seeds for her land. She says now I can feed my children without any worry for future. She also says she will collect the product and will keep in safe place for the future use.

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Another widow who was included in this program is Litishe. Her late husband left her a big, fertile land. But it was dream for her to buy fertilizers and improved seeds due to price escalation in the market. She used to plant not improved seeds without any fertilizer and her previous product was unsatisfactory and enough for two months only. But now she says with the fertilizer and the improved seeds, which FOVC provided, my life is changed. She said “I can collect tenfold product than before”.

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The following pictures show other widows and their products:

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W/ro Aster Anja in her farmland

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Celebrating International Women’s Day!

FOVC in cooperation with the Woreda’s Women’s and Children Affairs Office was taking a moment to celebrate International Women’s Day, March 8.

On the same day FOVC take the opportunity to distribute chickens and rosters to the orphaned children. It is Ethiopian Orphan Relief (EOR) which provided the fund to buy the chickens and rosters for all children at FOVC. Thank you EOR for this wonderful fund!

[slideshow]

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Will you send a widow to sewing school?

Dear Ones,

It’s Lory here.

I have been awake much of the night, thinking and praying and tossing and turning about how we can do more. How I can live with myself, in my comfortable life, while too many are suffering desperately.

Here is an email I received from Desalegn last night. He has found a way to send the FOVC widows to a sewing school. The school goes for three months. It is run by a Catholic organization that is only about a fifteen-minute drive from FOVC.

Hi dearest Lory,

I have been working to find more effective ways to teach Beauty and other widows how to prepare materials and how to sew it. Luckily, I found a wonderful Center which offers a short term sewing training in Boditti. Its monthly training fee is only 40 birr ($2.5 USD). It is very amazing for me Lory. The widows will have a good training and that will help them to change their lives completely, I believe that!!!

And Lory, I worked out the break down which is needed to teach a widow at the Center per month:

1. For training fee = 40 birr per month
2. For meals=12 birr per day (360 birr per month)
3. For transportation = 10 birr per day (300 birr per month)
4. Miscellaneous = 50 birr per month

So, we need 750 birr or ($45.5 USD) per month per widow to teach widows a life changing skill. And we need three months training for each widow. Before finding this cheapest and effective way, I was thinking to teach only Beauty. But as this is very cheap and effective, I think it is good if we teach all widows to have basic knowledge there in the Center. By the way the Training Center is Catholic based and it will offer good skills in how to prepare materials for sewing and how to sew it. Thank you so much for bringing this idea and you will see the impact and result which the sewing project will bring soon.
With much love in Christ,
Desalegn

FOVC currently serves eight widows. For $135, a short-term sponsor can send a widow to sewing school for three months. $135 will cover her tuition, transportation and meals.

If you know very much about the problems faced by orphans and widows in poor countries, you know that providing an education for the orphans is the key to lifting them out of poverty. And the key to giving the widows a hand up is to provide them with job skills. A widow in Ethiopia is typically responsible for four to ten people. But she has no means to earn an income. No social status. No help from the government.The churches have no means to help. The community is struggling to survive, so the neighbors can’t help. In the small villages where we work, there is no other NGO or NPO presence.

It’s up to us.

Please email me if you can sponsor a widow for this destiny-changing opportunity.

Because it’s up to us.
Kathy helps a baby put on a clean new shirt. Even though this baby is surrounded by adults, he is covered with flies.
Mom is so proud for her baby. These moms are me.

Gift of food that we delivered to each of the FOVC widows.

Another family stand back looking on. Looking in.

These kids are no different from our children...except they were born on the other side of the world.

After we delivered the food and prayed with the widows, we got into our car and drove away.

LET US NOT DRIVE AWAY AND FORGET!

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An Other Thank You Note and Pictures and FOVC’s This Year’s Plan

Here is a link to a wonderful thank you note from FOVC’s Board Member and Team Tasfa Coordinator and Mother of FOVC and its children, Lory Howlett. It also includes FOVC’s 2011 year some plans. Thank you Lory for this wonderful notice and thoughtful plans for this year for FOVC.

http://thehowletts5.blogspot.com/2011/01/worlds-biggest-thank-you-and-pictures.html

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THANK YOU!!!

Why I am writing this note is to bless you (Team Tasfa) who came to visit our FOVC at Shanto, Ethiopia. Before the Howletts came in February 2010, we were in a terrible situation and to tell you the truth frankly we didn’t have anything to feed, clothe and educate the orphaned children. God knows we didn’t know what we are going to do at all. Let alone the kids and the money to pay for some technical staff, I myself didn’t have enough money to pay for my own meals and clothing. So what I had been plenty was hope, faith, love and keep praying to God. We thank God, Lory and Dave came at the right time. Then my children’s and my staff and my spirit revived and everything started growing fast. Different generous people (the Penlones, Katie and Becky and Emebeth) came to Shanto with many supplies and love, FOVC partnered with Ethiopian Orphan Relief, Inc. (EOR) and many people from all over USA and other western countries are showing their interest to support FOVC’s effort.

Finally, you (Team Tasfa) which is really the team of HOPE and encouragement came to Shanto with much blesses and gifts to FOVC, its children, the whole community, to my staff…etc. We can say a lot but not in words on blog. But I truly say it is God’s help from heaven.

You may know that most of my technical staff and teachers were not been paid salary for couples of months. But thanks to you (Team Tasfa) now we have paid the staff their salary and they all are too much happy. Besides, it was Ethiopian Christmas time and FOVC’s kids and many other kids from the village have had enough clothing for their Christmas.

Therefore, we would like to thank and bless all of you (Team Tasfa, EOR, Team Tasfa’s families and friends and etc) in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be blessed in your works!!!!

With the money which you (Team Tasfa) provided us, we bought sewing machine to train our widows, teff and cereals which is enough for two months to feed FOVC’s children, order dining tables and chairs for the children, the children are being given lunch, we bought color printer, etc. We are now so blessed with you, thank God. Concerning child sponsorship, Sharon is communicating with you and others and we bless her in God’s Mighty name for what she has been doing for my poorest children.

Thank you all very so much for all what you (Team Tasfa) have done and been doing for us!!!

(TEAM TASFA)

Desalegn Daka

Friend of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (FOVC)

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