Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children
What could be better than an Ethiopian welcome, FOVC style?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Calling All Pillowcase Dress Seamstresses!

Hello Everyone,

I am taking another team to Shanto around the first of June. 

FOVC is beginning to expand to three more villages. So, we will work in Shanto again, and we will also visit the new villages.

It would be sooooo amazing to bless those little village girls with pillowcase dresses.

Anyone up for another round of sewing? For a simple tutorial on how to make these simple dresses, go here. Or go here.

Important note: please use thick, grosgrain ribbon, or real fabric straps for the ties! We would also love to take simple, elastic-waist skirts and t-shirts for the bigger girls. Culturally, once a girl is 10 or 11, a mid-shin-length skirt is more appropriate for her.  

Simple boy pants and shirts would be greatly appreciated, too....I hear the clearance racks at Walmart, Target and Kohls are full!

Let me know if you are "in" for this project!


Sunday, March 6, 2011

FOVC T-Shirts Available Now!

Now available on the fovc website: our fantastic t-shirts! We are selling these shirts for just $20--includes shipping.  
(Shirts can be purchased via paypal or credit card on's secure site.)
Buy some shirts! 
Help get the word out about FOVC! 
And bring clean water to Shanto and beyond, too!

Berry pink, says "Friend of Orphans" and "" Female cut, and these run small! Available xs, s, m, l, xl, 2xl.
Charcoal, Africa outline with water splash behind. Says "" Limited edition for our water fundraiser! Unisex cut, 100% cotton Anvil shirt. Available s, m, l, xl, 2xl.

White "Let's Talk" t-shirt with "" in the talk bubble. Unisex/men's cut, 100% cotton Anvil shirt. Available s, m, l, xl and 2xl.

White "Let's Talk" t-shirt with "" in the talk bubble. Female cut, 100% cotton Anvil shirt. Available s, m, l,xl and 2xl.

This kind of retail therapy is good for everyone!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

You Made It Happen!!! Sewing School and Widows Hope Updates

Hello Everyone!
Here is a note from Desalegn, and PICTURES! of our widows (YOUR 
widows, dear sponsors and supporters!) at sewing school: 
Hi Lory,
I have attached for you the pictures which I took yesterday from
widows training class. These all are FOVC widows. As their teacher
told me they all are doing very well. Especially Beauty is doing 
very well.
Lory, would you please share it on our blog and yours and with the
sponsors of widows training class? Thank you Lory for this wonderful
thing! You are great!!!

Dear Sponsors and Supporters, you are changing the lives of these 
women who have lost so much...and the lives and destinies of 
their children.
Thank you!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Weekend Update!

Wow, what a weekend!

Thanks to our church's adoption and sponsorship focus during weekend services, twenty FOVC orphans gained sponsors!!!

Thanks to a whole lot of people who showed up at our house, we raised $5000--enough to drill one well in Shanto!

Thank you, everyone!
Thank you, God!

Friday, February 25, 2011


This is the video our church will show this weekend because it is sponsorship / adoption Sunday. It's weird and humbling, on a personal level. On a Kingdom level, may it move many people to adopt or sponsor children! Many members of Team Tasfa have flown in to get the kids sponsored!

Dave & Lory Howlett from Rocky Mountain Christian Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Water Works 4 Shanto -- you're invited!

Please join us for our "Water Works 4 Shanto" open house fundraiser on Sunday, February 27. This is your chance to help FOVC drill life-saving water wells in Shanto, Ethiopia and beyond. Every drop of your support adds up to make a big difference!

Team Tasfa members from all over the world will be present, as well as a water expert and the local seamstresses who helped us deliver 800 dresses to girls in Ethiopia. You can learn a bit of Amharic and chat with old and new friends over "buna" and popcorn!

We'll sell our fantastic new FOVC t-shirts and hold a silent auction featuring all kinds of goodies--including jewelry, handcrafts and coffee from Ethiopia, work by local artists, and much more!

We hope you will stop by, lend your support and learn more about FOVC's work and our partners in Ethiopia. We CAN change the world together!

What: Water Works 4 Shanto

Where: Dave & Lory Howlett's home in southwest Longmont, CO

When: February 27th, 2011, 3pm - 6pm

Please let me know if you can come to our event! For even more information, visit the Water Works 4 Shanto webpage. Even if you cannot join us, there is a link to donate.

Finally, if you can give something for our silent auction, please contact Becky!

We have been given an incredible opportunity (really, "miraculous" is not too strong of a word!) to serve our dear friends in Shanto--and beyond. I'll share more details soon. In the meantime, please plan to join us on the 27th!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Save the Date!

Things at FOVC just keep heating up. Oh yea!

On Sunday, February 27, our church will focus its messages on the plight of orphans and widows. I understand Dave and me, or Dave and me and Team Tasfa, or our adoptions, or our trip, or FOVC...or a combination of all of these topics...will be included. Please pray that people will be inspired to "do more" for orphans and widows!

We will also have the opportunity to get the FOVC children sponsored by folks at our church. Wow! We are hoping and praying that the remaining 35 children will get sponsors that weekend. That would be amazing, truly more than all I would have considered asking or imagining. (Yes, I'm dealing with the possibility that my faith may be too small...)

In anticipation of this exciting day, several Team Tasfa'ers are flying in, including Sharon, who is our Social Worker and Sponsorship Coordinator....and Julie, who has come onto the FOVC Board with us...and Dr. Jo, who with her husband, has come onto the FOVC Board, too, and who started this amazing medical aid organization in Africa.

Of course, our Colorado Contingent will be around, too. 
Team Tasfa just doesn't quit!

Finally, to take advantage of the excitement and momentum, we'll have a fundraiser for FOVC, too. Here are the details about our "Little Bit of Tasfa" event:
  • It's an open house on Sunday afternoon, February 27, 3pm-6pm;
  • At the House of Howlett in southwest Longmont;
  • We'll have coffee and popcorn (or course) and maybe some additional treats, too;
  • There'll be a silent auction for Ethiopian handcrafts and other items;
  • And we'll debut our fabulous new FOVC t-shirts!
Please plan to stop by! There will be so many friends and adoptive families...."Little Bit of Tasfa" will be THE PLACE to BE that day!

By the way, if you have anything to donate for the silent auction, please let me know. If we all do a little bit, we can all do a LOT!

(And real invites will soon be plastered on Facebook and sent via email, by the way.)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Things are Hoppin', Whadya Think?

We have been working hard to get our Board in place, to make progress on by-laws and the 501c3, to get the website up and more.

Miss Creative Melissa A. has created some logos for our consideration. We are thinking of going with this one:

Once the logo is finalized, YOU could have the opportunity to OWN an FOVC t-shirt! So exciting, huh?

And here's the mission statement currently under consideration:

Our mission is to educate orphans, vulnerable children and widows,
empowering them to break the cycle of poverty and hunger
by offering them hope and independence for the future.
Whadya think?
Stay tuned for more announcements!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sewing School Update

Hi Everyone,

Five of the eight widows are sponsored for sewing school. Thank you!

If you can't sponsor an entire course ($135), can you sponsor one month, at the cost of $45?

Email me if you want to get involved.

I realize it's not exactly a popular worldview these days, but I DO BELIEVE we can change the world. Little bit by little bit, we can change the world.


PS Really, truly, we are going to have a "real" website soon!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Needed: Short-Terms Sponsors for Widows...Will You Help?

Dear Ones, 

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,

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.

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 stands back, looking on. Looking in.

These kids are NO DIFFERENT from our children...
except that were born on the other side of the world.

After we delivered our gifts, we climbed into our vehicle and drove away.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Born to Shine"

Here's an article from a developmental economist whose blog we follow. (Owen Barder lives in Ethiopia and it was through him, sort of, that we met Desalegn. And as they say, the rest is history!) I'm so proud and amazed that from Team Tasfa are already looking at ways to reduce and treat preventable diseases in Shanto!

(And I don't know why my normal typing is showing up as ALL CAPS! Or why I can't get the YouTube video to be a more reasonable and smaller size. I guess that's what you get when you put an otter on the job!)

Born to shine 

January 24th, 2011

Save the Children has today published a new report, No Child Born to Die: Closing the Gaps. It is accompanied by an excellent new video which is well worth two and a half minutes of your time:

Eight million children die each year before their fifth birthday, mainly of easily preventable and treatable diseases. About 1.6 million children under five die of pneumonia, and 1.3 million of diarrheoal diseases. These diseases two account for three times as many deaths as malaria and HIV combined.

Save the Children are right to highlight the success of vaccines to combat these preventable deaths. And they are right to emphasize the need for donors to give enough money to the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization (GAVI) to enable it to fund more vaccinations. GAVI says that it needs $500m a year more to enable it to provide existing and new vaccines. Donors should come to the London meeting in June 2011 ready to pledge it.

I am not however persuaded by SCF’s call to “bring down vaccine prices”. They should be careful what they wish for. If prices for vaccines used in developing countries are too low, pharmaceutical companies are less likely to develop new vaccines for diseases predominantly in developing countries and less likely to manufacture such vaccines in large quantities. If anything, we should be trying to sustain vaccine prices at a reasonable level which provides a decent return to vaccine manufacturers who get involved in these markets. I have no quibble with any measures to reduce the actual cost of those vaccines (eg by reducing unnecessary regulation or by reducing uncertainty) but it would be unwise of donors to use their monopsony purchasing power to make the production of vaccines for developing countries more unattractive for pharmaceutical companies. We want vaccines to be affordable, but it is likely that subsidies are a better way for donors to do this than by limiting the economic value of this market.

The SCF is also wrong to call for an end to health worker recruitment by developed countries from developing countries. First, we do not know whether this kind of migration reduces or increases the number of health workers in developing countries. There is a positive relationship between the number of African health workers inside a particular country and the number of health workers from that country working abroad, which suggests that the opportunity to emigrate may play a role in recruiting more people to the health professions, more than compensating for the number of people who end up emigrating. Second, this kind of regulation is not an effective way of influencing the migration choices of skilled workers: we should instead be asking how the health system would need to change for them to want to stay. Third, this treats health workers as a human resource not as human beings. Why should they be denied the opportunity to make their own lives better, if that is what they choose to do?

Not every country is constrained by lack of money; but some clearly are. Ethiopia, where I live, is a case in point. Health spending per person is about $30 per person per year; and of that, the government spending is about $17 per person. With a committed Minister, the government has achieved an extraordinary amount with very little money, especially through the introduction of health extension workers, but they could clearly do so much more if they had more money to spend. Save the Children is absolutely right to call for long-term commitments of funding for health systems to enable governments to increase these basic health services.

Well done to Save the Children for starting this campaign: it is a global scandal that so many children die of easily preventable and treatable diseases. As Save the Children rightly says, we should mobilise funding for vaccines and improve the provision of long-term funding for health systems.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

FOVC Child Sponsorship Update! (A Message From Sharon)

Here is the current Sponsorship update from Sharon Bonnett, our child sponsorship director. Sharon is doing amazing work for the kids of FOVC!

If you would like to sponsor an FOVC child, 


Happy 2011 Sponsors!

Team Tasfa arrived home about a week ago from our journey to FOVC. It was a gift to finally meet the FOVC staff and all of the children that you sponsor. So much is happening at FOVC these days...I am going to try to sum up our amazing and life-changing trip with a few highlights:
  • Team Tasfa was greeted by what seemed like the entire community of Shanto, and a special greeting by the FOVC children. They greeted us at the compound with flowers and singing and had special traditional dances that they performed for us.

  • FOVC is currently responsible for caring for 57 orphans and 71 children that attend school there. Every child is provided a uniform, school and 1 meal/day (as well as much love and care from the FOVC staff).

    • I was able to interview almost all of the 128 children and gather social histories and other information that will help us as we continue to develop our sponsorship program.

      • Each child had a complete medical exam by our team doctors.

        • Each child received a Genna (Christmas) backpack compliments of Ethiopian Orphan Relief's donors. They were delighted to receive the backpacks and the gifts inside.

          • I was honored to be able to hand deliver the gifts you had sent along for your sponsored child, along with a hug. Desalegn Daka, FOVC's Executive Director, made a huge deal about each gift that was sent from one of you. Thank you for your generosity.

            • Each girl received a new dress, shirt and underwear (with some set aside for the rest of the school year as needed). Each boy received a new shirt and pants/shorts.
            • Team Tasfa was able to witness the last game of a soccer tournament-what fun and excitement!

              • We watched as the children performed a drama entitled, "How Children Become Orphans"; a true-to-life story of pain, sickness, HIV, AIDS and hunger that many of these children have lived through.
              • Lots of time was spent playing!
              • Some team members were able to visit homes of some of your sponsored children, meet with their families and deliver Genna food. I will send you a specific update if we visited your sponsored child's home.
              I came away from FOVC with a deeply ingrained image in my head of the many children that lined the outside of the fence everyday, wishing that they could be a part of FOVC. As the team looked around the village of Shanto, there was no question which children were FOVC children and which were wishing to be FOVC children. The FOVC children are bright, fed, cared for and thriving...a stark contrast to those outside of FOVC's walls. I say this to encourage you that your sponsorship is making a huge difference; a difference I was able to see with my eyes. But, I also say this to encourage you to please spread the word about FOVC to your family and friends...for the sake of those children still standing at the fence.

              You will be receiving a specific email and updated photos of your sponsored child. I will also be sending via USPS a letter to you from your sponsored child. The children are so excited for you to receive these first letters-they worked so hard on them!

              Be looking for some more information in the weeks to come regarding our new website, payment arrangements and program updates.

              *A business note: Now is the time to send in your donations for the months of December and January (if you have not already done so). $35/month
              Payable to FOVC.

              Seeking the best for the children of Shanto,

              Sharon Bonnett
              FOVC Sponsorship Coordinator

              Wednesday, January 19, 2011

              I met...

              ...Bereket's first mom (his birth mom) while we were in Ethiopia.

              It was a needle-in-the-haystack, one-in-a-million kind of thing.

              Being able to "see" Bereket's life before he joined our family...explains a lot about him. Helps us understand more.

              I am so thankful to now have photos of Bereket's "home town," and of his little home, and of his first mom. His memories have been fading, and I hope the pictures will help him hold on to the first years of his life in Ethiopia.

              Saturday, January 15, 2011

              World's Biggest Thank You (and pictures, too!)

              Dear Friends & Supporters of Team Tasfa's recent trip to Ethiopia,

              First, we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support and encouragement of our trip. Because of your love and support, we were able to deliver love and hope to so many children. Our team transported and distributed approxiately 2000 pounds of donated items--including shoes, school supplies, medical supplies, hygiene items, clothes, pillowcase dresses, backpacks, toys, books, computers and money--over to Ethiopia.

              You may recall that we were very concerned about passing through Ethiopian Customs--after all, we were twenty-eight westerners with over sixty suitcases. Well, we had no trouble at all! Customs officials didn't scan even one of our bags, let alone open any of them. It was like God parted the Red Sea so we could pass through!

              We thank you so much for thinking of us, and praying for us, while we were away. Every aspect of our trip was led and covered by God. We experienced once-in-a-lifetime heartbreak and difficulty, and we also experienced joy and beauty like we have never known. Our venture would have never succeeded if not for your love and support!

              We would like to share, in short, some of what Team Tasfa accomplished during our short time in Ethiopia:

              • Visited Project 61. We delivered food to families and prayed with them in their homes. Our medical team was able to evaluate a very ill baby boy who is now in the US receiving life-saving surgery.

              • Received the welcome of a lifetime from the village of Shanto, where FOVC  is located.

              • Made great progress on building FOVC's new orphanage (and decorating the new kitchen).

              • Played with and loved on FOVC's orphaned children.

              • Met and learned about the widows that FOVC serves.

              No, Desalegn is not a widow...he took some of us to visit their homes.

              • Made continued progress in our Orphan Sponsorship program. (Please contact Sharon if you're ready to sponsor a child!)

              • Our team's pastors taught and encouraged the local pastors for two days, then preached to over ten thousand Ethiopians from all over the area on the third day of the conference.

              • Outfitted the girls of FOVC and Children's Heaven in beautiful pillowcase dresses and provided lots of additional supplies as well. The FOVC boys got new outfits, too, and all of the FOVC kids will receive new shoes this week.

                An FOVC boy's shoes...he couldn't help with the building project because they were so tattered....before Team Tasfa member Ingrid outfitted him with new shoes. The boy was found, crying and alone, a couple of hours later. Investigating the reason for his tears, Ingrid learned he was overcome with tears of joy because he had been given a real pair of shoes.
              • Thanks to the efforts of Ethiopian Orphan Relief, delivered backpacks, filled with needed supplies and "fun" things, to the orphans of FOVC and Children's Heaven.

              • Outfitted nearly 300 girls from the village of Shanto in pillowcase dresses, too...for many of us, this was among the most powerful aspects of our trip. I have NEVER seen the level of abject poverty and need as we witnessed in the village of Shanto. Which made all the greater the pride, joy and enthusiastic applause of the community members as the proud and beautifully-robed little girls marched out of the FOVC compound and back into their lives in Shanto.

              • Our medical team treated so many people--from saving bus crash victims on a very dark night, to treating village children, orphans, mothers, and the girls at Children's Heaven. Our medical professionals are even making plans to try to return with fourth year medical students, and to bring a real medical clinic to Shanto and surrounding villages.

              • Connected with and encouraged FOVC's amazing staff. We learned that the FOVC staff had not been paid for about five months. We were able to provide backpay, and put in place a plan to continue to pay modest wages to the staff....praise God! FOVC's staff members are the unsung heroes of FOVC's ministry.


              • Borrowed a sewing machine and began to teach the widows how to sew. Purchased a sewing machine, too, and "met" five cows that your donations have purchased. A flock of chickens is in the works now, too!

              WHAT'S NEXT?

              • We will complete US-FOVC's 501c3 status this year.
              • We will get a US website up and running.
              • We will continue to grow the Orphan Sponsorship program, in order to provide education, food and healthcare for the children of FOVC.
              • We will raise money to drill a well in Shanto. Currently, the thirty year-old well there is open for one hour each day, and the water is contaminated and filthy. Each family is allowed to obtain one jug of water per day--this meager amount is all a family gets for drinking, cooking, cleaning and washing.
              • We will continue to partner with Ethiopian Orphan Relief in any way we can, to include finding ways to fund building the much-needed orphanage at FOVC.
              • We will support the efforts of our medical team as they seek ways to promote health in and around Shanto, including the establishment of a clinic.
              • We will continue to spread the word about these beautiful children and this amazing organization, FOVC, with the hopes that more and more people will join us as we work to break the back of the cycle of poverty that devastates so many people in Ethiopia.
              • We are considering returning with a smaller team in June....the FOVC teachers are in desperate need of training, and some of the FOVC staff needs training, too.
              We believe each member of Team Tasfa has returned home with a great resolve to continue the work that we started. It is our hope and prayer that God will continue to fan the flame of our love for our dear friends in Ethiopia, and our passion for their cause.

              Dear Supporters and Encouragers, please know we are forever grateful for each of you!

              Lory and Dave Howlett, on behalf of Team Tasfa and FOVC-Ethiopia