Another Day, Another Holiday

Ethiopia sure does have a lot of holidays. About 15 or so major holidays per year. Not a bad deal. In just the last few weeks we have had the Ethiopian New Year, Eid ul-Fitr (Muslim holiday, marking the end of Ramadan) and Meskel (Orthodox holiday, celebrating when St. Helena allegedly found the true cross of Jesus).

My wife Ruth and I have been especially grateful for all of these holidays because it allows us some time to be together and to relax at home. As in most of the world – if not all – holidays are also a wonderful excuse to eat too much food. For the new year, we had some pretty wonderful Ethiopian feasts. Both in Ruth’s family’s house and my family’s house. (You must be saying: “Dan, you’re family is in the US, how did you have an Ethiopian feast at their house?” Well, I guess I should clarify. The feast was in my Ethiopian family’s house, Frew and Frehiwot. I’m pretty lucky to have two families!). The food that stands out in the Ethiopian New Year feast is definitely Doro Wot. This is the famous Ethiopian chicken dish loved by almost everyone who has ever tried it. It is a spicy onion sauce that has chicken pieces and spiced butter in it as well. It is cooked for the better part of the day and you can’t stop at one serving of this.

Meskel, which was just on Monday, is another reason to feast if you know anyone from the Gurage tripe in Ethiopia. They are famous for another Ethiopian dish called Kitfo, which is ground beef mixed with different spices and spiced butter and served along side of some different kinds of cheese and greens. It is traditionally eaten raw, but can also be served partially cooked or fully cooked. My favorite is raw, but this year I didn’t want to risk it, as I was already a bit sick. So, I went for the next step, called leb leb. It’s very lightly cooked, flash fried basically. Dr. Frew gives it the stamp of approval, so I figure it’s safe enough. Anyway, we had some of that at my Ethiopian mom’s family’s house. We ate till we couldn’t take another bite, it was delicious. I brought a bit of an American flavor in the form of chocolate chip cookies. But the kitfo definitely won the show.

Aside from all the holidays, things are going well. We are still doing research as to what kinds of businesses would be best for us to open and hire the women with. But we have a few ideas and are confident that something will work out within the next few months. For now we will continue to support the women and children that we have already helped. About two weeks ago we handed out some basic supplies to some of the women. This included wheat, cooking oil, soap, toilet paper, etc.

Please stay tuned for new developments. And feel free to leave some comments on here.

By | September 29th, 2011|General, News|Comments Off on Another Day, Another Holiday

Bright Futures

Today was an awesome day. We got together with some of the children (and their moms) who we are helping get into school. Today we gave them backpacks filled with exercise books, pencils, erasers, etc. They had already received their school uniforms some days before and came today wearing them. I’ve been trying to come up with words that I could write here to explain the feeling in the air as we were giving them these things. It was incredible. The smiles on their faces (both the children and the moms) were amazing.

All of their moms work in one of our existing projects – collecting trash, little shops, serving tea and snacks at one of the local government offices, or other various small jobs. Most of them live in very small, crammed houses (usually only a room or two and maybe as many as twelve people living there). They may even make less money as they did when they were working as a prostitute. But they were all so happy. Even though they have so little, they find something to be happy about. Today, that happiness was because of their children. I was watching one of the moms help her daughter (maybe 6 or 7 years old) put on her uniform. They were both smiling. I kept wondering what they were thinking or saying to each other. I wondered if the mom was so happy and relieved because she knew that her daughter wouldn’t be forced into a life of prostitution, because now she has a way out. It was a beautiful site.

I feel so blessed and humbled to have been a part of this little ceremony today. To see these children so excited about their new backpacks and school supplies. To see the look of anticipation on their faces and they prepare to go to school. It was incredibly beautiful. I wish you could have experienced it too. I kept thinking to myself how amazing it is that with just a little bit of our help these children’s future will change drastically. I was especially noticing the young girls and felt so relieved that they won’t have to work as a prostitute in a few years. What a difference was made today!

Take a look at the pictures I’ve attached. Especially the first one. Her name is Hannah. She had nothing but smiles on her face the whole time. You can see in the second picture that Hannah couldn’t even contain her smile when she was receiving her backpack. That was the girl who’s mom was helping her get her uniform on. Hannah has a bright future in her life.

Calling Students
Boy and Backpack
Playing With Backpacks
Group Shot
The Mothers
Happy with Backpack

By | September 13th, 2011|Images, Stories|Comments Off on Bright Futures

First Day of School

The school year is about to start in Ethiopia. As everywhere else in the world, some children are excited and some are dreading the end of summer. But, in Ethiopia, most children look forward to school. They see it as an opportunity to make their life better. It is a privilege to attend school here, not something that everyone is able to do. Some children may have to stay home and help around the house. Or on the farm. Others may not live close enough to a school. And some families are not able to afford the basic supplies that the children need to attend school. So, next week, the children who are lucky enough will likely be quite excited to get back to their studies.

There is a group of children who are especially interested in starting up school. These are the children of some of the women who we are helping to escape a life of prostitution. We are buying the children their school uniforms, exercise books, pens, pencils, erasers and backpacks. We are also paying their registration fees. We are very excited and honored to be able to help these children in this way.

It will especially help to break the cycle of prostitution that is going on in the part of Addis Ababa that we are working. What often happens is that the children of these women will get involved one way or another in prostitution. Especially if the child is a girl. If a woman working as a prostitute has a daughter, chances are that the girl will start working as a prostitute herself before too long. The reason is that there is no other choice given to them. The mother will often die quite young from HIV or other diseases and the young girl is either kicked out onto the street or has to start working as a prostitute to feed herself and any siblings that she may have. This may even start as young as 7 years old and it is very common to find young teenage girls working as prostitutes here. The situation is heartbreaking. But by offering these children an education they will be equipped with the tools that they need to break the cycle. They will be able to continue their education and start another line of work. It is very exciting and I cannot wait to see what these children will do with their lives, they each have so much potential and I am sure that great things will happen.

I will be taking pictures of these children next week and will post them on this website, so please come back and take a look.

By | September 6th, 2011|Stories|Comments Off on First Day of School