Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children

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

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Local Fundraiser for FOVC!!!!!

IAN mom Debbie Mewes is putting together this fun concert (with the help of her talented uilleann pipes--and whistle-playing husband!!!) and benefit for FOVC!

It's Friday, September 10 at City on the Hill Church in Boulder. Can you come? Will you join us? Let me know!!!!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Keep Changing the World

This song just runs through my mind as I think about Team Tasfa's trip to Ethiopia. (Even though it sounds a little bit like a song the cast of "Glee" might sing....I still love it!)

Let's! Go! Change! The! World!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

"She said she was happy for me."

Now that David has been home for six months, his English is really, really good. Occasionally, I try to talk to him about his life in Ethiopia: His memories are fading, and I hope to learn as much as I can before he forgets. I figure everything I can learn about his "first life" will be a gift to give back to him someday.

The other day, we were talking about how it was when his first mom said good-bye. This is a subject we have talked about before. I'm still not clear about all of the details, and I still can't tell if she was tearful or stoic.

He did share this time, that his first mom told him she was happy for him as they parted.

As a mom, I cannot imagine. Putting my child in a car. Knowing I would never see him again. Being aware that I would not have any idea where my child would end up. And bravely telling my son that I was happy for him. Because I hadn't been able to give him food and shelter and medical care. So I was happy for him that he might be able to find these fundamental provisions, and a chance at a brighter future, somewhere else in the world.

I cannot imagine.

It makes me more thankful than ever that Team Tasfa is traveling to Ethiopia in just four months. We can't do everything. But we can create an environment where the children will have a place to live, and an education. And perhaps we can get some livestock to the widows And the community members can learn some job skills, and perhaps we can help them sell their products. And in the process, we can bring some joy and some hope. Tasfa.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Guess It's True

I have always heard that little boys love their mommies. I guess it's true. Bereket picked a bouquet of flowers for me today.

And isn't it kind of neat that this way of showing must be universal!

Bereket has been home for six months now. It hasn't been easy, but it has been good. We are thankful and proud to call Bereket our son.

Oops--by the way: He will start kindergarten this week. He tells his teacher he would like to be called, " my daddy."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Needs -- from Desalegn

Desalegn sent this email to Aneata, one of our group members:

(By the way, Aneata works at our adoption agency, IAN. She has overseen over 65 adoptions from Ethiopia, but she has not yet been there! She has a HUGE heart for the orphans. Aneata has committed to traveling with us, but she must raise funds. She's an artist by training, and she is selling beautiful hand-made (and affordable) jewelry so she can make this trip. Click here to check out her stuff!)

Ok, back to Desalegn's message:

....My children's big problem is shoes and clothing. As you may haveinformation many Ethiopian children are wearing one cloth for longyears or may not ever wear any cloth. So I need your great support to have any types of clothes and shoes for my children. Please notice that most of the children are somewhat big and need at least L size clothing and medium size shoes. The shoes may be new or old no matter (it looks like boys and girls sizes 7-14 could be really helpful). Any type of exercise books/note books/, pen, school supplies etc are also needed. Any types of toys are also important......

And now, here is Team Tasfa's "take" on Desalegn's message:

I know we are hoping to take up to 200 pillowcase dresses (with t-shirts) for the girls! I know, too, that some in our group have ideas about how to bring clothes for the boys.

Because of the parasites in Ethiopia, shoes are so important. People walk around in bare feet (particularly in rural areas like Shanto), and the parasites get into their skin, and they get terrible diseases like elephantitis. Also, the lack of shoes keeps people from going to many places--like school, or the market, etc. CAN YOU, CAN WE, EVEN IMAGINE???

I'm sure each of us has been asked, "How can I help?" With summer coming to an end, maybe we can ask those who have offered to help to purchase some clearance-priced, end-of-the season shoes? Close-toed shoes are best--like little flats for females and whatever looks sort of comparable for boys. Or, ask people to pick up tops, packages of underwear (these kids have NO underwear), skirts, jeans, etc.

Better yet, maybe some of the big-hearted people you know will donate even $10-$20 that you can take over to Addis. Shoes, in particular, are plentiful and cheap (by U.S. standards) in Addis, and we can easily buy shoes in the city and take them down to Shanto. Dave and I are less confident about buying clothes and underwear over in Addis, however. So, possibly our best plan is to try to collect a few shoes, more clothes/underwear and to plan to buy more shoes in Addis. Remember, too, that we are a greater help to Ethiopia when we buy all that we can buy there, in-country!

This is also a great time of year to pick up cheap school supplies! Just be aware that paper, in particular, gets really heavy in terms of the weight allowance in your luggage. You will be shocked at how easy it is to accumulate 100 pounds' worth of stuff for your luggage!

By the way, when Desalegn says the children are bigger....I think he means they are not babies/toddlers. FOVC primarily serves kids from about 5 years to 15 years. Aneata is right, sizes 7-14 will likely be the best.

Desalegn also mentioned that any type of toys are important, too. I know Aaron has obtained full sets of soccer uniforms for the kids! That makes me think he'll probably bring some soccer balls, too, right? I want to say that our son, Bereket, really loves the little toys that come in Sonic kids' meals, happy meals, Chick-Fil-A meals, etc. Maybe we can start collecting those kinds of little toys to take? Also, we really can't take stuffed animals or stuffed dolls. It is just too dirty there, and soft toys quickly get very unsanitary and have to be thrown away. I recently read about one little Ethiopian girl: her ONLY toy was a tooth she had lost. CAN YOU, CAN WE, EVEN IMAGINE? Let's deliver some fun and joy to Shanto, too!

with so much love,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dave's Response to "Slumdog Tourism"

The "Slumdog Tourism" post yesterday has generated some good conversation, in a variety of forums. Love it!

Here's the response my Dave wrote: (By the way, I'm a feeler and he's a thinker...are you surprised?)

The point I wanted to make was that I hope that this won’t be the last trip to Ethiopia for any in our group. This is Lory's and my third trip, and I hope there will be many more. I wouldn’t mind someday relocating to Ethiopia if given the opportunity. The one point this article doesn’t make is the impact that we can have once we return home…and upon return visits. There is nothing that creates true empathy more than seeing the challenges and problems faced in Ethiopia firsthand. But, we can’t let that one visit languish. I view the roles of Team Tasfa members as gaining experience and observing the problems firsthand so that we can best understand what we can do with the resources we have to empower and enable places like Shanto and Korah to move toward becoming self-sustaining, viable, and livable communities…and to provide them with some of the resources and advantages that we have had from the blessing of having been born in America. I know that we can’t even begin to solve the problems outright, but we can be one small step in helping Desalegn and others achieve their goals for their communities.

I don’t know if any of you are familiar with “design thinking”, but it is a methodology used by innovators and designers to develop solutions to problems and challenges predicated on the necessity for firsthand observations. Design thinking methodology was used by my good friend and co-worker when he founded his company, Husk Power Systems, which provides portable power plant systems to rural communities in India driven by the use of “rice husks” or the waste product from rice harvesting. He traveled throughout rural India observing the challenges of not having power and developed a way to deliver electric power by observing how the rural poor lived their lives and the types of resources these people had access to on a daily basis. Understanding that rice was the main crop in rural India, he and a friend developed a way to take the waste product that was being thrown away and use it to generate power…now they have 150 employees and have deployed close to 50 systems which charge rural Indians $2.00 per month for power (where the average income is $3.00 per day).

The bottom line is that there is much we can learn about helping to solve problems in developing nations through observation. The key is taking what we observe and acting on it…not sitting idle after having had the experience (i.e., slumdog tourism). I sent this article out because I know that each one of us will be transformed by the experience and know this will most likely not be our members' only trip to Ethiopia…nor will we forget about all we observe...which will drive continued contemplation and hopefully action in helping to be a part of the solution to some of the challenges and problems we’ll see. It is also our responsibility to carry the message forward through the passion that will come from our firsthand observations and experience.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Slumdog Tourism"

Frm Dave:
This is a great article that appeared this week in the New York Times and I think should be required reading for all of us contemplating the visit to Korah. It is very important to realize that our dropping in for a day of observation can't be the end of our involvement.

Sharing this article is not meant as a criticism in any way. It's not easy to read, but it's important to think about. It offers an insight and a perspective that can help shape and guide our thinking as we plan and process our roles in the world.

By the way, the writer of the article is a young college student who founded, and runs, a social services organization that serves his "home town," the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.

Thoughts, anyone?

August 9, 2010
Slumdog Tourism
Nairobi, Kenya

SLUM tourism has a long history — during the late 1800s, lines of wealthy New Yorkers snaked along the Bowery and through the Lower East Side to see “how the other half lives.”

But with urban populations in the developing world expanding rapidly, the opportunity and demand to observe poverty firsthand have never been greater. The hot spots are Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai — thanks to “Slumdog Millionaire,” the film that started a thousand tours — and my home, Kibera, a Nairobi slum that is perhaps the largest in Africa.

Slum tourism has its advocates, who say it promotes social awareness. And it’s good money, which helps the local economy.

But it’s not worth it. Slum tourism turns poverty into entertainment, something that can be momentarily experienced and then escaped from. People think they’ve really “seen” something — and then go back to their lives and leave me, my family and my community right where we were before.

I was 16 when I first saw a slum tour. I was outside my 100-square-foot house washing dishes, looking at the utensils with longing because I hadn’t eaten in two days. Suddenly a white woman was taking my picture. I felt like a tiger in a cage. Before I could say anything, she had moved on.

When I was 18, I founded an organization that provides education, health and economic services for Kibera residents. A documentary filmmaker from Greece was interviewing me about my work. As we made our way through the streets, we passed an old man defecating in public. The woman took out her video camera and said to her assistant, “Oh, look at that.”

For a moment I saw my home through her eyes: feces, rats, starvation, houses so close together that no one can breathe. I realized I didn’t want her to see it, didn’t want to give her the opportunity to judge my community for its poverty — a condition that few tourists, no matter how well intentioned, could ever understand.

Other Kibera residents have taken a different path. A former schoolmate of mine started a tourism business. I once saw him take a group into the home of a young woman giving birth. They stood and watched as she screamed. Eventually the group continued on its tour, cameras loaded with images of a woman in pain. What did they learn? And did the woman gain anything from the experience?

To be fair, many foreigners come to the slums wanting to understand poverty, and they leave with what they believe is a better grasp of our desperately poor conditions. The expectation, among the visitors and the tour organizers, is that the experience may lead the tourists to action once they get home.

But it’s just as likely that a tour will come to nothing. After all, looking at conditions like those in Kibera is overwhelming, and I imagine many visitors think that merely bearing witness to such poverty is enough.

Nor do the visitors really interact with us. Aside from the occasional comment, there is no dialogue established, no conversation begun. Slum tourism is a one-way street: They get photos; we lose a piece of our dignity.

Slums will not go away because a few dozen Americans or Europeans spent a morning walking around them. There are solutions to our problems — but they won’t come about through tours.

Kennedy Odede, the executive director of Shining Hope for Communities, a social services organization, is a junior at Wesleyan University.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Little Dresses for Africa"

For those of you who are sewing pillowcase dresses, or who are interested in sewing pillowcase dresses.... check out this darling site that Shawn, my friend and EOR board member sent.

Really, take a minute to look at these pictures!

If these darling pictures, of these darling girls, in these darling dresses don't inspire us, then nothing will!!!

I know I feel pretty when I get a new dress. How special will the girls feel when they get their first-ever new dress?

Let's! Get! Sewing!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More News!

Hello Friends!

Surprise, surprise, more exciting things are happening as we prepare for our trip.For one thing, Team Tasfa has grown to twenty-three confirmed travelers!

My friend (though I have never met her!) and IAN mom, Sharon, is coming. Sharon is a real, live social worker who has--for years--been burdened to help orphans. It has been her heart's desire to work in on orphan sponsorship program. And now she has her chance, because Sharon will be taking on FOVC's child sponsorship program. Those of you who are interested in sponsoring a child--stay tuned, because your opportunity to change a life is coming! If you can't wait to meet Sharon, visit her at her blog!

Here is what Desalegn wrote when I told him Sharon is coming:
Thank you Lory sooooooooo much for sharing this wonderful news with me. This is the answer for my prayer. Please appreciate Sharon on behalf of my staff and me and the Board of FOVC. And tell her also all about FOVC and its Orphan and Vulnerable Children Care and Education Program (OVCCEP). I think you are familiar with OVCCEP now.

Also, Mitch C., a pastor from our church is coming, along with his wife. When I emailed Desalegn about the possibility of Mitch teaching and encouraging the FOVC staff, and possibly any interested local church leaders, here is how he responded:
Lory I have a strong but smooth and life changing question for you. Lory: Shall we also prepare a church conference in Shanto? Please, please let me know this soon. Because I should have to contact the local churches and other concerned bodies about this issue soon if we want to prepare church conference. If we do so the pastor will preach to 1000 to 10,000 people in and around Shanto and will draw many souls to Christ. It will be the second fold opportunity for FOVC and your church Lory. So shall we try it????! Thanks!!!

Obviously, we are all overwhelmed to the point of goosebumps, at the many incredible opportunities that are unfolding as we prepare to travel to Shanto. In addition to these new opportunities, we're taking the pillowcase dresses to the girls, something special for the boys, full sets of soccer uniforms, a medical team, lots of expertise and passion, builders, an architect, engineers, seed money to purchase livestock for the widows, art projects for the kids, a mini-VBS for the kids, skills training for the widows and community a few other initiatives that are still in the works. And, or course, lots of love and encouragement!

Thankfully, our group is focused and gifted and talented and passionate. I love that each member of Team Tasfa has a unique calling for this trip. I can't wait to see how everything is going to unfold.

With so much love,

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Travelers and Dress-Makers--NOW is the time to do your shopping!

Hi Everyone!

I was at Target tonight, and it occurred to me that NOW is the best time for many of us to purchase supplies for our trip. When we travel in December, it will be winter here in the U.S. BUT, it will be summer in Ethiopia! Summer stuff is on clearance in most stores right now, so stock up! Also, you can be sure that "summer" clothes will be hard to find in November or December, right? Here are the kinds of items you will need:
  • Females can wear jeans, long pants, longish skirts and crop pants (not shorts)
  • Guys can wear jeans or long pants (not shorts)
  • Guys and gals can wear short sleeve shirts and t-shirts (not tanks, not sleeveless)
  • You will want washable sandals/flip-flops to wear in the guest house and hotel
  • You will want close-toed shoes for Addis and Soddo/ least 2 pairs!
  • You will want a hat or two
  • Sunscreen, bug spray, chapstick, lotion, etc will be hot and dry, especially in Shanto!
  • A jacket, hoodie or sweatshirt
  • Plan to dress humbly and simply. There is always the chance that some of your clothes might not make it don't bring your designer duds! Also, we do not want to draw even more attention to ourselves by wearing anything but the simplest of clothes. Keep in mind, too, that Africans tend to dress a bit more formally than we do--and not entirely in graphic t's!
  • For our pillow case dress makers: please plan to send a simple, inexpensive, solid-color t-shirt with each dress. These types of tops are REALLY CHEAP right now....and you won't be able to find them once fall gets here. Dear friends, please sew some of these dresses! We can't wait to share pictures of the joy on the girls' faces when they receive their very own, new dresses.
By the way, our group has grown to twenty travelers!

with love and thanks,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Korah: We Will Go There

The Village of Korah - A short documentary from Session 7 Media on Vimeo.

YEAR: 2010

This is a short documentary that explores the current state of one of Ethiopia's poorest villages, the village of Korah and the challenges the people there face every day.

The village of Korah is a small village just outside Addis Ababa, the capitol city of Ethiopia. The village was founded over seventy five years ago by people inflicted with leprosy, seeking treatment in Addis. Three generations later, over 100,000 people live in Korah, most of whom have leprosy, HIV/AIDS, are widows or orphans. Their extreme poverty has forced many of the villagers to forage through a local trash dump to find enough food to survive each day.

For more information about Korah, visit:

To our guide Samuel Liben and all the people of Korah who opened their homes and hearts to us, trusting our intentions with the footage and stories we collected there. They will not be forgotten and our work for them has only just begun.