I can’t believe that Fields of Hope has been around for almost 4 years already! So much has happened both in the project and in my life personally. It has been quite the journey, one that I would do all over again if given the option. I have seen the project grow and more women and children being helped than ever before. I have seen success stories as well as stories that haven’t ended so well. There have been plenty of ups and downs, but it has been absolutely worth it. It’s at this point that I feel absolutely confident to take the next steps. We could easily continue going on as we have been, always relying on donations and helping little by little. Or we could take some big steps and really bring about a big change – not to mention becoming a self sufficient project.

There are three main problems that we see facing the women and children of Kirkos: lack of job opportunities, lack of training for jobs and lack of access to quality education. Our plans in the coming years aim to help fix all three of these issues in a comprehensive way. The long and the short of it is that we are planning on opening a school and a coffee shop (with multiple locations of the coffee shop to follow). The school would address the issues of education and training, while the coffee shop would address the job situation.

A brief overview of the vision for the school is that we want to provide the most excellent education possible. It will be a school where anyone – both rich and poor – will want to send their children. We will charge tuition for those who can afford it and provide scholarships for those who could not. The women of Kirkos will be able to send their children here, which will allow the cycle of poverty and prostitution to be broken in this generation. The women will also have access to training both for their jobs as well as for parenting. We will provide after school activities and countless other ways of being part of their lives.

The coffee shop ties right into the school. We will have a location of the coffee shop right in the school compound where we can train the women how to make pastries and other foods. This will serve as the cafeteria for the school and will provide high-quality, highly-nutritious food to all of the students, teachers and other staff. In addition, we will have a retail location of the coffee shop elsewhere in Addis Ababa. We will set the bar high for the coffee shop and aim to provide the best quality foods, coffee and atmosphere. There will be WiFi, comfortable couches to relax on and be with friends, tables and chairs where people can come and get some work done – all with a goal of helping people lift themselves out of poverty. We want to be a community hub, a place where people want to come, a place that becomes known for having the best food and service around.

Both the school and the cafe will help us to accomplish our goals in a huge way. They will provide the tools and the resources necessary to break the sad cycle of life in Kirkos. They will also stand out in the city as places that have a focus of helping those who are in the most desperate of circumstances. Not “helping” them by giving them handouts but, instead, providing real change and real opportunities. The women and children of Kirkos have immense potential, we just need to unlock it and the world will be theirs. I cannot wait to see how these people will shake up the world, what things they will change in Ethiopia, what inventions they will come up with…it’s going to be an exciting journey!

You can probably imagine how big of an undertaking this is. It will take countless volunteers – people who are willing to help in all kinds of ways. It will take time, it will take money and it will take a lot of perseverance. The end result is that we need YOUR help.

Maybe you have some skill in teaching and want to spend a few months or years in Ethiopia – that’d be awesome!

Maybe you know a bit about baking pastries or making coffee or running a restaurant – we need you!

Maybe you want to give some training to mothers who have never felt loved and don’t know how to raise their kids in a loving environment – please join us!

Maybe you have some money that you’d like to give (or loan) to this kind of work – we could use it!

Maybe you have a great idea that can plug into what we are trying to do – share it with us!

Maybe you know some people who would be interested in getting involved in something like this – connect them with us!