So much is happening, there is new news every day, and new details to work through. (For someone who doesn't really wrangle details all that well, I am being stretched in every way!) But, oh!, I have been so blessed in this support role!
We still need a man or two, and we still need someone who knows about bookkeeping. And maybe someone who has the passion and ability to help formalize FOVC's orphan sponsorship program (see Desalegn's plea below!). We are also looking for someone(s) who has skills in building or design....it looks like we will have the opportunity to work on more projects than only the orphanage. All of these needs are so important for the purposes of our trip!
In addition to everything else we want to take on, I have been in communication with Desalegn about some of the needs for the village--especially the orphans and widows--of Shanto. Desalegn is such a wise and smart young man! Because his writing is so eloquent, I will share it all here:
Lory's question: If we are able to raise funds to purchase some livestock for the widows and children, what types of animals would you recommend, what would be the cost, and how would you implement such a program?
Desalegn's answer: Through my experience I understand that the people of Shanto need cows, sheep, goats and hens to completely change their live and their children's live and to help their children with school supplies and food and clothes. And they depend on these animals to break the cycle of poverty. In our culture, anyone who has these animals together with "inset," or false banana, in is garden is considered as wealthy and has the ability to do everything others do.
So providing one or two or all of these animals to a widow having no any animal means changing her life, her children life and her family life completely from poverty to wealth and brings mental, spiritual and physical satisfaction for her. In our community, each widow has five, up to seven, children and siblings and sometimes her own parents and husband's parents who are very old to do anything by themselves so they are waiting on her to help them. So providing these animals to a widow has many values, not only to herself but also for her children and siblings and parents. Here are the current prices of the animals in the markets of Shanto and Boditti (9 km away from Shanto). Please note the prices have been raised in the last two or three years:
• Cow = $350 USD
• Oxen = $275 USD (helps a widow to plough her own farm land)
• Sheep = Female - $35 USD, Male - $32.50USD
• Goat = Female – $32 USD, Male - $35 USD
• Hen = Male - $3 USD, Female - $2.75 USD
Rather than giving these animals to a single widow, it is better if we train the widows as a group how to develop livestock before giving animals. The reason is because, everyone around Shanto uses traditional methods to develop livestock. So it is better if I train a widow in a group with other widows, in our case in a group of seven widows, how to develop livestock in a modernized way. This will also help a widow share her ideas with others and working in a group ("daguwa" in our language) is better for a widwo and makes her feel strong and has working friends. "Daguwa" means doing anything better, standing together and etc. in our language. So a daguwa of seven members will have much more strength than one widow.
The other thing what I know about the people of Shanto and other people in the region and what I want you to know is that, asking them for matching fund of 10%-20% makes them more happier, feel stronger and the owner of the animals. So I am thinking of this strategy in our case. For instance, if we buy a cow with $300USD for a widow, we will ask her to provide a matching fund of $30USD.I want the fund returned back after one to three years and given to the other widows in the region to help them funded with animals. This method will help me sustain our Widows Hope Program (WHP) in a good manner.
Lory's question: If we raised funds for metal bunkbeds for the orphanage, could you purchase them in Ethiopia? How many would you need, and what do you think might be the cost?
Desalegn's answer: Yeah, I can purchase the metal bunkbeds here in Ethiopia. I know there are some good workshops in Ethiopia which provide these types of beds with good quality. If the price includes blanket, bed sheet and other necessary things it costs $250-$300USD for each pair of beds. We need nine metal bunkbeds for eighteen special orphans and three reserves for some other orphans.
Lory's question: Would there be any value in supplying the screens and installation materials to cover the windows in the new buildings, in order to keep mosquitoes and other insects outside?
Desalegn's answer: Yes, window screens have large values. As you know well the most difficult diseases in Shanto are malaria and other preventable diseases. So the screens and installation materials will help us prevent malaria.
Lory's question: What is the current status of sponsors for the children?
Desalegn's answer: I am always concerned with the children to have long-time sponsors than short-time donations. The reason is that it is very difficult for me to look at a child who is suffering with lack of food, clothing, shoes and other things. As I informed you before, among twenty-four orphans, only two are being sponsored. But the others do not have any sponsor. So I beg you to find sponsorship for each child. If a child is sponsored and educated or trained, he will feed and clothe himself and the other orphans in his own area later. That will help us to have good foster families in the area in the future. So let's work hard and hand-in-hand to find sponsorship for each orphan. If we can find sponsorship for the children, it will make all of us so much happier.
The other thing I want to let you know is that there are also many orphaned children who are in our waiting list. And I am thinking of admitting some twelve and more orphans in the next Ethopian new year.
So....who's ready to change the world? Even if you're not traveling with us, what will you do? What CAN you do? Before our family got involved, I somehow thought the people in countries like Ethiopia were different than me. Pain wasn't so painful to them. Love wasn't so full for them. Need didn't feel so desperate to them.
Oh, I was so wrong. Our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia experience love and need just like we do. They definitely exhibit love and joy more fully than is common here in the U.S. And they experience pain and need--often on a daily basis--far more deeply than most of us ever will.
So, what can you do? What will you do? I really believe God is watching our responses.