Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children

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

Saturday, September 25, 2010

We interrupt this travelogue...

...for some pics from the Silver Creek High School Homecoming! 

Friday night: Flute girl!
Flute girl and friend Morgan! 

Anthony and Allison's cheering section. 
It's Anthony: excellent friend and also player on Team Tasfa!
Al and Anthony and Morgan are out there somewhere, really. 
Show's over, back to the game! 
 Post game pic of Al and Anth.
     Three good friends--Victoria, Al and Morgan.
How did these cute girls become high schoolers?
Gotta love the foot-wear!
Al and Victoria.
All the girls!
Just Al.
Corinne N.
Al and Mia!
The whole gang arrives at....Noodles for dinner!
Al and Nathan.
Some of the gang.
More of the gang.
Mia, Morgan, Nathan and Al....on the way to the dance in the mini-van limo.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Beware, this one is very difficult to see

Dear Friends,

Below is a recent post from Desalegn in Shanto (first my note, then his note, then the photo and article to which he refers):

I am humbled beyond thoughts or words to be able to go and do what is within my ability to break the back of the cycle of poverty. Thank you, God! Let's go, Team Tasfa! If we are able to do even a little bit begin to break the cycle of poverty, THAT, even more than feeding programs, is what will change the lives and the destinies of these communities, families....and children. These kids are no different than our kids, really, except they were born into really desperate and difficult lives.

Please, please if you read all the way down to the photograph, be aware that the picture is graphic and terrible. This photo was taken, and the article written, about two years ago. But the problem is as acute now as it was then. I hesitate to include this photo...maybe I'll end up removing it...I don't want to sensationalize the situation ("slumdog tourism?"), but how else can we realize that it's time to do the right things to end this suffering?

From Desalegn:
You can’t imagine this kind of trouble thing happens in the lives of human being. But this had really happened one year ago in and around Shanto, FOVC’s Village and my birth place. It was killed many little children. Killed many beautiful mothers. Killed many old people. Killed many animals. Killed “Enset” false banana, our multipurpose plant. Killed many things.This is still happening to many families in our area.

Today Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (FOVC) straggles to break this cycle, the cycle of poverty and hunger. Let us stand together to break a cycle of poverty in Shanto, Ethiopia! Let us make it history for my children!!! Let us make it history for Bizunesh and her friends!!! Thank you all for joining us to break a cycle of poverty in and around Shanto, Ethiopia!!!

Here is the article:

(Associated Press) SHANTO, Ethiopia — This year's poor rains have nearly killed Bizunesh.

The 3-year-old weighs less than 10 pounds. Her long limbs, weak and folded like a praying mantis, cannot carry even her slight weight. She cannot speak. She doesn't want to eat. Health officials say she is permanently stunted.

Bizunesh — whose name, sadly, means "plentiful" — is one of untold numbers of children hit by this year's double blow of a countrywide drought and skyrocketing global food prices that has brought famine, once again, to Ethiopia.

"She should be bigger than this," said her mother Zewdunesh Feltam, rocking the listless child. "Before there was maize, different kinds of food. But now there is nothing ... I beg for milk from my neighbors."

The U.N. children's agency said in a statement Tuesday an estimated 126,000 Ethiopian children urgently need food and medical care because of severe malnutrition — and called the current crisis "the worst since the major humanitarian crisis of 2003."

The U.N. World Food Program estimates that 2.7 million Ethiopians will need emergency food aid because of late rains — nearly double the number who needed help last year. An additional 5 million of Ethiopia's 80 million people receive aid each year because they never have enough food, whether harvests are good or not.

In Shanto, a southwestern agricultural area that grows sweet potatoes, recent rains arrived too late to save the harvest.

The crisis here is vivid. A feeding center run by the Irish charity GOAL has admitted 73 starving children in the past month.Aid agencies say emergency intervention is not enough and are appealing for more money to support regular feeding programs.                                                                 

Some, like Bizunesh, are frail and skeletal. Others, like 4-year-old Eyob Tadesse, have grossly swollen limbs in a sign of extreme malnutrition.

Eyob, whose mother said he used to be a lively, talkative child, sat in a stupor, unable to speak, not moving even to brush away the flies that swarmed over his face. The sunny room humid with a recent, too late, rain shower was made gloomy by an eerie silence despite being full of sick children. Chronic malnutrition can affect children for life, stunting their growth, brain development and immune systems, which leaves them vulnerable to a host of illnesses.

Many mothers said their families were trying to survive on a gluey, chewy bread made of the root of the "false banana" plant — one of many wild or so-called famine foods that Ethiopians depend on in times of trouble.

It's not known how many children have died or are starving now. Local and international aid and health workers say between 10 and nearly 20 percent of Ethiopia's children are malnourished — 15 percent is considered a critical situation. In 2006, Ethiopia had 13.4 million children under age 5, according to UNICEF.

Samuel Akale, a nutritionist with the government's disaster prevention agency, said the hunger will get worse. "The number of severely malnourished will increase, and then they'll die."

WFP officials say the drought has affected six of Ethiopia's nine regions, stretching from Tigray in the north to the vast and dry Somali region in the south, though not every part of each region is affected.

Spokesman Greg Beals said the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is preparing an appeal for additional tens of millions of dollars.

"This is a real crisis that needs to be addressed," he said.

Ethiopia is a country with a history of hunger. It's food problems drew international attention in 1984 when a famine compounded by communist policies killed some 1 million people. Pictures of stick-thin children like Bizunesh were broadcast onto television sets around the world.

This year's crisis is far less severe. But drought and chronic hunger persist in Ethiopia, a Horn of Africa nation known for its coffee, a major export. In 2003, droughts led 13.2 million people to seek emergency food aid. Drought in 2000 left more than 10 million needing emergency food.

Drought is especially disastrous in Ethiopia because more than 80 percent of people live off the land, and agriculture drives the economy, accounting for half of all domestic production and 85 percent of exports. But many also go hungry because of government policies. Ethiopia's government buys all crops from farmers at fixed low prices. And the government owns all the land, so it cannot be used as collateral for loans.

"What we're doing at the moment is waiting until children get severely malnourished, taking them into the feeding program, getting them back to a level of moderate malnutrition and then watching them cycle back," said Hatty Newhouse, a nutrition adviser from GOAL.

There are fears that the next harvest also will fail.

"We are crying with the mothers and the children," said Akale, the nutritionist.

Image: Starving Ethipoian child

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fundraiser Photos

The Irish Music Fundraiser for FOVC was a great success! The Mewes'es organized an evening of great music, great Silent Auction items, great people, a great location...and a great big gift to FOVC: about $1800!! Wow! And thank you, Dirk and Debbie, for making this event happen!

Here are a few pictures:

Handsome guy's Ethiopian outfit doing a pre-concert swing....

Meels is a swinger, too.

Amelia's friend (and Bereket's future girlfriend?? He does seem to like her an awful lot!), Lidya Rodda.

Sweet baby Sullivan....ah! the baby days!

The musicians. These guys are GOOD!

This guy LOVES  to dance!

Meelsie is a doll.

Our big beauties: Victoria, Al, Rebecca and Abs.

Mr. Handsome

Lovely Lidya listens.

Thank you again to everyone who supported this wonderful event!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Note from Desalegn

Here is a note Desalegn posted on the FOVC blog. I guess to say we are humbled and honored would be an understatement. As regular and flawed and misguided as we can be (or at least I can be) have been picked to partner with this dear young man, for such an exceptional cause...there are no words to suffice.

In our new year (01/01/2003) I received the following wonderful email from our Board Members which made my eyes full of tears. Do you know why my eyes are full of tears: tears of happiness? I never dreamed and thought that these all great things will happen on behalf of FOVC for the poorest children in Ethiopia. When I started Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (FOVC) four years ago things which I had plenty were hope, belief, commitment and love to help poorest orphans. Thanks to FOVC’s hard working Board Members, Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children succeeded these all wonderful achievements. I have many million thanks for Lory, Dave and Stacey and their families and friends for making these things happen for FOVC on behalf of poorest and vulnerable children!

Hello Desalegn,
How are things in Soddo and Shanto? We cannot wait to be there! Thank you for your update this week. I wonder if you have any recent pictures to share of the construction site, or of any recent happenings in Shanto? Also, as you prepare to welcome the new children in to FOVC’s program, would you be able to send their photos and basic information? And please don’t forget: save some orphanage-building work for Team Tasfa! This is soooo important to our group.

Here are some of the things we have accomplished for FOVC recently:

1. Team Tasfa paid for our in-country travel (we are using a company called Spring Ethiopia Tours,  for our in-country travel and to arrange our hotels)! We are also going to stay one night at the Sabana Lodge at Lake Langano, so we paid for that as well. Since we are such a big group, it seemed that hiring Spring Ethiopia’s vehicles would be the most reliable way to get us to the Sidama region.

2. I opened a bank account in the U.S. We think this is the best way to accumulate funds for FOVC, and then to get the funds wired over to Ethiopia.

3. We registered the US charity for FOVC. It is called US-FOVC Ethiopia.

4. We also obtained a 501c3 number for US-FOVC. We are still in the early stages of completing the difficult 501c3 process, however. Many, many thanks to Stacey for leading us through this huge effort!

5. We purchased a couple of URLs– and Hopefully, we will finally get going on the website!

6. I had a long conference call with Sharon Bonnett, who, as you know, is the social worker who is working on the sponsorship program. Sharon has lots of great ideas and she is working hard to put things in place for the FOVC children! With your current children, and the 12 children you want to add this year, and the 21 children the local government has asked FOVC to help, we think there will soon be 57 children, is that correct? We believe we will be able to get them sponsored.

7. The local adoptive family held their fundraiser last night, and raised over $1700US for FOVC!

8. As generous people begin to financially support FOVC, there is a lot of tax and record-keeping paperwork for us to do here in the U.S. I am figuring out how to support these aspects of the organizations.

9. The church of two of Team Tasfa’s members has donated $1500US to FOVC.

10. I am communicating often with EOR as they plan their big fundraiser and as we generally partner with them. For Ethiopian Christmas, EOR is preparing small backpacks full of gifts and supplies for all of the FOVC children. Team Tasfa will deliver them. Will 36 backpacks be the correct number when we arrive?

I think this is all for now.

Happy New Year and God bless!

Lory, Dave and Stacey

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Gena! (a fun, easy way to help!!!)

Hi Friends,
Please see this post below from Ethiopian Orphan Relief's blog. Team Tasfa has the distinct honor of playing Santa, and delivering all of these backpacks to the kids at Children's Heaven and FOVC.

Maybe this sweet and simple project is a great way for YOU to get involved....change the world for a kiddo!

And P.S.--please don't forget that the Celtic Music Concert & Silent Auction for FOVC is tomorrow (Friday, September 10) in Boulder! Come! Join us! Let's clog! :-)

much love,

Christmas in Ethiopia is called Gena and it’s celebrated on January 7th in Ethiopia. Here at Ethiopian Orphan Relief we’re gathering gifts to put in backpacks for children of Children’s Heaven & FOVC (Friends of Orphans & Vulnerable Children). Through “ProjectGena2010“ your generosity will brighten an orphan’s life. EOR provides the backpacks~~ can you help us fill them

Boy or girl? Email to make plans to shop for a specific child. Too busy to shop for all the special someones on your personal gift list? A backpack for an Ethiopian child makes a wonderful gift for others. For a donation of 15.00 we’ll shop for you AND send a special card to the honoree of your choice. A personalized letter or photo makes a wonderful addition to any backpack – we welcome yours. We can’t wait to share a photo of the children receiving their gifts, please include your address with your donation so we can send you one too. Here's a short video on ProjectGena2010:

For those counting, it’s 106 days till Christmas! Let EOR help you take some gifts off your list. Do your children have a service project at school? Feel free to pass along our flier and…

Melkam Gena!

Gift Ideas
Toothbrushes, socks, underwear, small toys, pencils, hair do dad’s, small cars, yo-yo’s, jump ropes, etch a sketch, markers, journals.

Please contact for questions and address on where to ship your treasures.

Monday, September 6, 2010

FOREIGN TO FAMILIAR -- A Super-Important Book!

Foreign To Familiar has been called a MUST-READ for anyone who is involved in cross-cultural communications or who plans to do work (aid, mission, short-term, long-term) in a foreign culture.

Here's what one expert says about this book:
Foreign to Familiar is a splendidly written, well researched work on cultures. Anyone traveling abroad should not leave home without this valuable resource! Sarah's love and sensitivity for people of all nations will touch your heart. This book creates within us a greater appreciation for our extended families around the world and an increased desire to better understand them.

As a requirement for traveling with Team Tasfa, I am asking every member of the team to read this short book. Our time in Ethiopia will be brief, and an understanding of cultural norms and expectations will be INVALUABLE to each of our team members as we seek to maximize our time and effort in-country!

Here's a review of the book:
In her book Foreign to Familiar, Sarah Lanier seeks to aid the reader in cross-cultural communication and relationships by highlighting the differences between hot- and cold-climate cultures. While these concepts are unfamiliar to most readers, Lanier quickly introduces and defines the categories before discussing them in detail. Having lived in the Middle East, South America, Africa, Europe, and New Zealand, Lanier (who is American) is certainly qualified to address the issue. The reader gets the impression while reading that this book is the fruit of her own experiences and frequent lectures on the subject in different settings.

According to Lanier, "the population of the entire world can roughly be divided into two parts. The two groups represented are 'hot-climate' (relationship-based) cultures and 'cold-climate' (task-oriented) cultures". Lanier recognizes there may some overlap in the two categories, and cites one unnamed person who suggested that she use the terms "hot/tribal" and "cold/urban". She also recognizes that personalities differ within each culture. The primary distinction between the two cultures is that of relational focus as opposed to task focus. Those in the warm-climates tend to emphasize the relationships involved between individuals while those in cold-climates focus on the efficient performance of tasks.

After defining the groups and explaining the primary relationship/task distinction, Lanier spends the next six chapters explaining further manifestations of the cultural differences. In Chapter Three, the focus is on direct versus indirect communication. Chapter Four emphasizes the individualism of the cold-climates over against the group-identity of the hot-climates. Privacy, highly valued in the cold, is contrasted with inclusion as the norm in the cold-climate in Chapter Five.

Chapters Six and Eight discuss two elements of society in which the differences between hot- and cold-climates are very evident: hospitality and time. Those with international travel experience will find themselves laughing with familiarity as they read of Lanier's experiences. Of course, the hot-climates demonstrate much more warm hospitality, while the cold-climates are extremely conscious of time and planning.

In Chapter Seven, Lanier introduces a different distinction between cultures which sometimes clouds the distinction between hot- and cold-climate cultures. This distinction is between high- and low-context cultures. Drawing from Edward T. Hall's Beyond Culture, Lanier defines the high-context culture as the one which has a long history wherein traditions have become very formalized. Low-context cultures are those whose history is briefer, whose population is more diverse, and in which very few traditions have developed.

Some of the strongest points of Lanier's book are its brevity, clarity, and engaging tone of Lanier's style. The reader is aware that Lanier is not writing an academic treatise. Her aim is pragmatic. She delivers fully in Chapter Nine, entitled "Practical Next Steps". Here simple steps are outlined to aid the international traveler or other person who finds himself or herself developing cross-cultural relationships. Perhaps the most beneficial element of the book is the summary found at the end of each chapter. It is not as if the chapters are so lengthy that this is a necessity, but the brief outline form of the summaries makes relocating information very easy.

This book has made a positive contribution to the field of cross-cultural communication. In Foreign to Familiar, Sarah Lanier has provided a clear, brief, practical introduction to several key issues. The book is written on the popular level, making it accessible to a wide audience. This reviewer enjoyed the book and recommends it as a primer for anyone involved in cross-cultural communication.


Team Tasfa, please get this book as soon as possible (here's the link on Amazon). It's only $8.99, and I am confident we all receive a great deal of value by increasing our understanding of the culture in Ethiopia before we travel!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Powerpoint, anyone?

I am creating a simple powerpoint presentation about FOVC, and Team Tasfa's upcoming trip to work with FOVC. Please let me know if you would like a copy of it! Some on Team Tasfa are using it for fundraising presentations, for example.


PS According to one member of Team Tasfa, it's only something like 113 days until we travel!