Sponsorship Changes Lives

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Biniam with his grandparents, Alemu and Amone, in Shanto, Ethiopia

One of the highlights of our annual trip to Ethiopia is doing home visits of children in the sponsorship program. Each year we choose between five and ten children to visit. Seeing their home, learning more about their life, and visiting with their caregivers gives greater insight to this sponsorship program we are coordinating for our partner, Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (FOVC).

Last month our board president, Ingrid Olson, and vice president, Renee Stauffer, visited with Biniam and his grandparents. Biniam has been in FOVC’s H.O.P.E. Sponsorship Program for over five years. H.O.P.E. is an acronym that stands for Helping Orphans Prosper through Education. By the time Biniam was two years old he had lost both of his parents. His grandparents, Alemu and Amone, have raised him.

Meeting grandparents in Ethiopia is a wonderful experience. They are so warm, loving, enthusiastic, and appreciative about the help and care their grandchildren are receiving. They have had a lifetime of seeing orphaned and vulnerable children around them and know too well how the lack of support can have lasting negative consequences.

During the home visit Alemu talked so fast the translator could barely keep up. He explained that six years ago he heard about this sponsorship program starting up in Shanto. He took his young grandson, walked into town, and asked if Biniam could be added to the program. The saying goes “It takes a village to raise a child.” That is definitely the mindset in rural Ethiopia. FOVC’s founder, Desalegn Daka, had that vision years ago and started this effort to help children in his home village. In partnership with the local government, children like Biniam are selected for the H.O.P.E. sponsorship program and receive help to ensure they have every chance at a bright, self-sufficient future.

It is amazing to see Biniam today. He is in 9th grade and a top student. He plans to be a doctor. His grandparents are so thankful for the support Biniam has received. Biniam has been blessed to have had the same sponsor from day one. Thanks to Alicia and her family in North Dakota, Biniam’s life has been changed.

We are currently recruiting sponsors for the H.O.P.E. sponsorship program in Dale, Ethiopia. Visit www.pwesponsorship.org to learn more and see the waiting children. Isn’t it amazing that $38 a month can change a life? Invest your $38 in a child’s future today!

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International Women’s Day 2016


International Women’s Day is a celebration of the resiliency and contribution of women around the world. It is a day to recognize the significant achievements and progress women have made, and also to remember that we have more work to do to achieve gender parity.

Just this morning we received some new photos of the women in our Widow’s Hope Crops Project. With a little support to get them started, these women are proving that they are capable, intelligent, successful, and worthy of respect. They are growing beautiful maize (corn) and other crops which will feed their families and generate income. Women like Abebech are becoming role models in their communities and are living proof of the limitless potential that lies within women everywhere.

Please partner with us as we continue to fund life changing projects in southern Ethiopia. You can donate once or recurring at www.give2pwe.org.

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Abebech proudly showing off her field of crops.

 

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Growing Hope

DSC07849Last fall, Partners With Ethiopia funded FOVC Widow’s Hope Crop Program. Thanks to the generosity of our amazing donors, 71 women have been enrolled in the program! Through the program they received tools, seed, and fertilizer to help them get started, along with agricultural education and mentoring. The women are growing things like maize (corn), onions, beans, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, teff (Ethiopia’s traditional grain crop), and other crops.

Self-sustainability is an important aspect of this program — stepping stones to independence. These single mothers are able to provide better nutrition for their families and generate an income for themselves. They become economically independent, and gain the self-respect that comes from helping themselves.

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Our team is excited to visit with these women next month and hear firsthand how things are going for them!

We want to continue to provide self-sustainable income generating opportunities for women in southern Ethiopia. Empowering women preserves families. If you want to partner with us in our efforts, consider a one-time or monthly donation to our general fund, which will provide us with the funds we need to administer these important programs. www.give2pwe.org

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A Widow’s Hope

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One of my least favorite chores is grocery shopping. I am not a good meal planner so I tend to wing it at the store. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done my meal planning in the grocery store aisle based on what I see in front of me or when I have Googled a recipe on my phone. Thank goodness for my smart phone!

I know that planning ahead makes all the difference in the world. It really is a luxury to have the ability not to plan and my family is still well fed. However, Bizunesh doesn’t have that convenience. She’s a widow who lives in southern Ethiopia. I had the privilege of meeting her in April 2015.

In June 2013, Bizunesh was one of 35 widows who received a cow and sheep as part of an animal husbandry project. Our partner, Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (FOVC), in Shanto, Ethiopia facilitated the project.

When I entered her home she began to praise Jesus over and over, thanking him for the wonderful gift of livestock she had received. She proudly showed me the cow and sheep. I asked if she had any livestock prior to this project, her answer was no. She explained that this gift was life changing. She now had daily milk for her two children, milk to sell (which gave her an income), and finally, both her animals had given birth. Her plans were to wait until the calf was full grown and then take it to market to sell. It would bring between $150 and $200 USD. She showed me the holes in her roof and explained that she planned to use the money to do much needed repair to her home.

Becoming a widow in these rural farming communities can be devastating. It is very difficult for these women to continue farming at the same level as before. Bizunesh’s husband was a farmer and the main provider; however, Bizunesh does have a very small farm. She grows corn, false banana, sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes. In Ethiopia, the climate allows them to plant three times a year. Most of the food she grow is for her family to eat but she does sell some of it at the local market.

It is so hard for me to imagine this way of life, especially when I often run to the grocery store without a plan — yet my family is well fed. It was humbling to sit in this precious widow’s home, to see her joy and praise to God for His good gifts. In the abundance surrounding me I struggle to remember I have so much to be thankful for. I am ashamed to say I often whine about grocery shopping. Woman like Bizunesh challenge me to be grateful, live simply, give more, and obey my call as a follower of Jesus to care for orphans and widows in their distress.

Partners With Ethiopia is committed to serving widows in southern Ethiopia through our partnership with FOVC. We have an exciting upcoming widow’s crop project. If you would like more information on donating to this project or funding it, please e-mail us at info@partnerswithethiopia.org.

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Going Beyond Sponsorship

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I know many of us wish we could pull out our checkbooks, fill out a check with a sizable amount, and donate it to our favorite charity, but the reality is most of us cannot. The good news is smaller donations add up. For example, a $38 monthly sponsorship payment has a huge impact on a child’s life. Jennifer Barclay and her family have been making that monthly donation these past couple years, sponsoring Dinkinesh and Yalis at FOVC’s project site we support in Shanto, Ethiopia.

Last April, when our team traveled to Shanto, Jennifer’s children received a gift from her family along with a letter and picture. In May, after Jennifer received her update on our trip, she contacted us letting us know her church was offering grant money. After Jennifer gathered the needed information she submitted a request. In late July we received a check for $1200 from Calvary Baptist Church in south Minneapolis.

Even though Jennifer could not write a check for $1200 herself, she used her connections to make a bigger impact in Shanto. Her monthly donation is helping provide Dinkinesh and Yalis with a daily lunch, the ability to attend school, received medical care, and support. Her extra effort of seeking out additional funding contributed toward paying an entire teaching staff for a month at Dinkinesh and Yalis’ school, The Kamfourd School of Excellence! We thank Jennifer and her family for their continued commitment of supporting these efforts in Shanto, Ethiopia.

How about you? We have several children still in need of a monthly sponsor. Head over to the FOVC Shanto Center of Hope page to select a waiting child. Also, are there ways you can seek out additional funding to help us continue to support our Ethiopian partners? We have lots of fundraising ideas and can offer you support. Connect with us today by e-mailing us at info@partnerswithethiopia.org.

 

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Last April our board President, Ingrid Olson, presented Dinkinesh with a picture of her sponsor, the Barclay Family.

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The Spitting Grandma

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And then, the Grandma spit on my hand…

In March 2013, I had the privilege of leading a team of eight to Shanto, Ethiopia to visit FOVC where I manage 150 sponsored students. Four of my team members were sponsoring children and I was excited for them to meet their children and visit their homes. My cousin, Abby, started sponsoring a boy named Gedion in 2012. Abby made that monthly commitment and had decided to meet Gedion in person.

Gedion was almost eight years old. His mother had died and he was being raised by his father with the help of his two grandmothers. When we arrived at his family’s home his two grandmothers were there to greet us.

What I have observed on my two trips to Ethiopia is that adults are very reserved. However, not the children — they are silly and curious! I think children around the world are pretty much the same with the exception of the various customs they learn. Ethiopian adults are quieter people. They’re reserved, yet deeply caring people who listen and talk when required. However, not the elderly. These two grandmas talked non-stop and they cried. The translator could barely keep up as they expressed their gratitude for the help Gedion was receiving.

After Abby presented her gift of bread, which is customary, the two grandmas spoke of the many years they had prayed, how God had blessed them with a long life, and how they were praying for us. It was a powerful and energizing moment for all of us. A moment to be remember. Then, they each took our hands and spit on them. It was a custom that I had never experienced before. One that I didn’t understand but immediately thought that this must be really special. I learned later that spitting on our hands was them giving us a huge, deep-hearted blessing, and we were honored to receive such a gift

Many of the families that we serve in southern Ethiopia often go on for generations without a single person who has attended school. Yet these are smart people who understand the transformative power that education can bring to a family — they just lack the means to get that education.

For Abby and me, the moment was one that we’d never forget. Not because the custom of spitting on our hands was so different but because Abby realized that her monthly commitment wasn’t merely a donation but the answer to the prayers of two grandmothers and a blessing to a child and his family. Check out our children who are still waiting to be sponsored at pwesponsorship.org.

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