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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
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