Sometimes you mean to update the blog often, but then it takes you 6 months between posts! Let me catch you up on all things Fields of Hope…
Over the summer, we celebrated the 5 year anniversary of Fields of Hope. But, it was also a challenging time. Ruth and I were getting ready to leave the US after spending two years there. We made new friends, reconnected with old ones and got used to seeing our family often. Fields of Hope was also in the midst of a lot of changes and everything was new for us.
After a lot of prayer and consideration, we made the choice earlier this year to register Fields of Hope in Ethiopia instead of partnering with a local organization. We also decided to apply and open a tuition-free, non-profit school here in Addis Ababa. Ruth worked tirelessly on the project proposal and we both worked on all of the other paperwork (lots of authentications and letters). A few days before we moved to Ethiopia, we submitted all of the paperwork to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC. A few weeks after that, we followed up with the Foreign Affairs office here in Addis Ababa. They told us that they hadn’t received the application, even though the Embassy told us it would be there in a matter of days. So, we waited some more. Over the next days and weeks, we continued to call and go back to the office until they finally found the application. There was some initial complications, but God was faithful and the paperwork was finished at the Foreign Affairs office in just over a month! In fact, the lady that was handling our application was excited about the project! This is a process that we have heard takes 7 months or more on average.
From there, our application went on to the Charities and Societies office. Again, there was some initial complications. But, again, God was good. We had to rewrite our entire project proposal to fit into their format and then resubmit it. After hearing our vision for the school, the guy that we were dealing with at this office was willing to quickly write us a recommendation letter to the Ministry of Education! He did this within a day!
So, with the recommendation letter in hand, we took our project proposal to the Ministry of Education for them to review. At this point, we are still working with them to come to an agreement on the project proposal. There are some complications because we are planning to have a Bible class on Saturdays. We are hoping that this process won’t take too long.
In the meantime, we also visited the Kebele (the smallest form of local government in Ethiopia) for the target area that we are planning to focus our school project on. Can you guess how they received the idea? They loved it! They were excited about it and told us that they are willing to work closely with us and support us with anything that we need. What’s more, they have already identified a group of about 15-20 women who are currently working as prostitutes and who want to leave that life. The only kind of help being offered to them is monthly handouts that aren’t even big enough to change their lives – the Kebele doesn’t want to give handouts, but wants to equip them. Our school project plans to work with 20 students in the first year. The Kebele already has a group picked out that could very well be the first group of students at Yetesfa Mesk International Academy!
Needless to say, we are blown away by all of this. Many times it takes well over a year (if not 2) to have an international non-profit approved to work in Ethiopia. While we aren’t done with the process, we are nearly finished and it’s only been four months! God has been good to us and to Fields of Hope and we are excited about what lies ahead. We are extremely excited about being able to actually start working and be done with the paperwork side of things.
As you are probably aware, the school isn’t the only project that Fields of Hope plans to do in Ethiopia. We are also working on developing a business plan for a farm and for a coffee shop. The farm will provide a place of restoration for women who are too hurt and abused to simply re-enter society. The coffee shop will provide meaningful and fair-paying employment to women who are leaving prostitution. Through all of these projects, we plan to break the cycle of poverty, prostitution and despair that enslaves tens of thousands of women across Addis Ababa. Then, together with the women, we will build a new cycle of hope, freedom and restoration. While none of the projects are yet a reality, we can see them growing ever larger on the horizon!
We are so excited about all of this! To make these dreams a reality, we need your help. As the year is coming to an end, please consider giving a tax-deductible donation to Fields of Hope. We are so thankful for all of you who have consistently encouraged us through your prayers, donations and communication this past year.
Thank you so much!