June 17, 2016

Be hope to business women in Ethiopia!

Project Hopeful Awassa’s ultimate goal is to come to the aid of vulnerable women and children and if possible restore families and help them reach financial stability and independence.

While sponsorship is a beautiful program and can form lifelong relationships we believe that God intended for families to provide for themselves so, when possible, we strive to empower widows and family caretakers to achieve independence and then graduate from our Family In the Gap program.

In some cases rather than sponsorship we are able to provide training and seed money for ladies to start businesses which enables them to be financially stable enough to support their families with no outside assistance. Not only do the ladies gain the ability to feed and clothe their children and ensure their education they also receive restored dignity.

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One of the best things we get to experience on our trips is to spend some time with the business ladies who have started their businesses through the efforts of our partners at Ajuuja and funded by the generous PHA donors. We hear story after story form the ladies about how their lives have changed for the better.

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They say things like –

“I was idle and could not provide for my family but now I can and my children are in school!”

“I was just at home with no income but now I have a business.”

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The ladies are always excited to meet us and tell us about their businesses and what they are making and selling. Each chooses something they’d like to and then they take off. They sell eggs, injera, coffee, tea, bread, flour, butter, chickens and so on.

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Yichal make blankets basket covers and other knitted cloth items. Her craftsmanship is amazing.

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Metasebia started out selling coffee but sold less than 10 cups per day so she quickly decided to restart and bought hens and began selling eggs. Soon she began to sell prepared food in addition to her egg business. Her reputation as a great cook grew and the business expanded. Today she operates a café that sells full traditional meals and seats around 60 people. We had the opportunity to have a meal there which was amazing!! As she shared about her business success she proudly told us that not only is she able to provide for her family but that she also has hired two employees who are now able to support their families!

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We currently have 3 groups of ladies ready to start their businesses and the path to being self-sufficient. Thirty ladies will soon have the opportunity to begin a new life. The ladies selected for the program are in deep poverty. They work in groups and are accountable to each other, to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and to Ajuuja. Our God has used this program to lift so many ladies from poverty and have the privilege of witnessing these transformations. They have a savings account on their own and then even have a savings account within the group if someone has an emergency money need that they can borrow from.

$250 per lady is all it takes! Please pray that we will quickly raise the funds necessary to get them going.

$2,500 would fund an entire work group. Anyone have a Sunday School class, book club, business or women’s ministry group looking for a project to contribute to?

This is perfect and the results are fast and unbelievable.

Current groups waiting to start:

10 in Hawassa Zuria

10 in Bona

10 in  Aleta Chuko

Interested? Email us at charisa@projecthopeful.org or you can donate below or set up your own crowdfunding page here:

http://igfn.us/join/project_hopeful/EIP

You can also just text EIP to 71777 to donate! 

May 15, 2016

Now I am human

From Greg:
I’m always amazed at the stories we hear from families in the FIG sponsorship program.

One of the things we’ve heard several times which you can never be fully prepared for is “NOW I AM HUMAN.”

One story that stays with me is from a mother that said her life before was so difficult and she was so low that no one saw her or even regarded her as human.

She had no food, no home, NO HOPE. Each day she would do what she could to find food for her children and would end the day under a makeshift shelter she would make from enset leaves. The only thing between her family and the weather and hyenas was a shelter of leaves.


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After one of her children was added to the FIG Sponsorship program things began to turn around. Today she has found HOPE! She has a home to live in with her family, her children are in school, her family has food and now she says “I AM HUMAN”!


We hear from caretakers (who could be a Mom, Dad, Uncle, Aunt, grandparent, older sibling or even neighbors) proudly say things like:


- now they are in school and learning
- now I have food for my children
- now we have animals
- now we have a home

and so on.

We seldom hear requests for anything from the families but when we do it is almost always from families not yet connected with a sponsor.
They ask “when will I have a sponsor, when will I get letters and photos like the others?” They understand that the FIG program is more than a sponsorship program – it’s a Family In the Gap for them! While the funds and helps that the program bring are vital to the well-being and recovery of the family, an even higher value is placed on having someone care enough to pray for their child and their family even though they’ve never met.


During the April trip the team meet 39 children that have just entered the program! We spent a few minutes with each one and their caretakers and heard some hard things but we are eager to see the changes that will come!


We also then had the unexpected privilege of visiting the sponsored children in Hulla. Hulla was the first of the areas I visited with a team a few years back.

The children there made such an impact on me and I’ve never forgotten them so it was a really special surprise to see them again! To see them smiling, healthy and knowing they are in school and doing well was such a great blessing. They told us about the dreams they have – big dreams - they want to be doctors, teachers, engineers, and so on!


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They expressed deep gratitude to their sponsors and to God. They understand that He is the ultimate source of our help and hope. Words can’t express how blessed we are to play a small part of the delivering hope to these families and how challenging it is to experience the sponsored kids’ faith.


Below is an album of children that still need a Family In the Gap sponsor. Please take a look and see who grabs your heart!


Contact charisa@projecthopeful.org or greg@projecthopeful.org to get more information!

May 10, 2016

Unexpected

From Greg:

As we wound down the day we had just a few visits and it was our last day.

Throughout the week we saw many needs and we were able to meet many of them but still had funds left; one of our team members was overfunded for his trip and we had the funds on hand to use at his discretion. We still had a good amount left and were thinking about what to do with that money before we departed.

We arrived at one of the areas to meet a young man whom another of our team members sponsors. As we waited for the program administrator to arrive we interacted with some local children and enjoyed the morning.

I noticed a small run-down hut nearby and a lady emerged doing her morning chores and the things she needed to do to care for her family. I approached her and spoke using some of the few Sidamic words I’ve learned to greet her and speak God’s blessings over her. She returned a greeting and kind smile and went about her business. It became obvious that the person we were waiting for would be late but our  sponsored teen arrived so we made the most of the time and talked with him and his brother that accompanied him.

As we waited, I asked one of the Ajuuja staff members that was with us if it would be appropriate to visit the nearby home while we waited. He agreed to ask and see if she would welcome us in or not. She said we were welcome to visit but asked that we wait until she got the cows out. She then proceeded to escort the cows one by one out the door of the hut. One, two, three, four cows came out! Two calves and two full grown cows emerged from the hut. Many of the families who are blessed to have animals have no way to protect them at night from hyenas other than to bring them into the family home each evening as the day closes.

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At this point she greeted us with a smile and welcomed us into her home. There was very little in the hut, which was round and about twelve feet in diameter. The walls were the usual stick construction but lacked the mud & straw packing that encloses them and the roof was collapsing and sunlight easily shone through. The floors were mud and wet in places from recent rains. As we talked with her she told us that along with her and the cows her husband and four children also shared the hut and she was expecting child number five.

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She never complained or asked for anything as we talked and learned more about her life. We inquired about how the family owned four cows but had so little. She explained that they had lost their land rights along with their gardens which included the source of their food and income. Eventually they may be able to move but for now they are without options.

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It became clear THIS WAS THE NEED that God intended to meet with the extra funds that we carried. We checked with Ajuuja staff members and the local officials to make sure it would be appropriate to explore how we could help this family. They agreed so we asked more questions. At this point she sent for her husband who was nearby working as a day laborer to do whatever he could to earn a little money for his family.

The official we waited for had arrived by this time so we continued with the rest of our meeting and as that drew to a close we were told that the gentleman had arrived and that the couple were waiting to speak with us. We had already determined what it would take to get the hut repaired and make it dry for the family. The thatch for the roof had a cost attached to it since it is harvested on the mountain and must be carried in and sold in the villages that need it for shelter. There was no food and hope for food anytime soon in the home.

As we discussed how best to help the official interjected and said that she was late that day because her bus was late and that late bus was no accident but instead was part of God’s plan to put us into that home. She explained that as she left the evening before she stopped and spoke with the precious mom we met that morning who told her that there was no food for the family and no way to get any.

(We also learned that this particular official often leaves her personal funds for food for nearby families and even has breastfed orphans when there is no formula)

We agreed to help with hut repairs and funds for food and asked that the official hold the funds for us and use them as the work progressed and she agreed that that would be best for accountability’s sake and that she was willing to administer the funds. At this point the couple was told what we were doing there and that although they were not in our program we intended to meet their family’s immediate needs.

I was moved to tears, which is not unusual, but as I looked around the rest of people present were also weeping. In all the hard situations and visits we’ve attended I’d never seen this.

The father spoke and said that indeed God sent us to meet their needs. He explained that just the night before his wife pleaded desperately with him to get food for the family but he couldn’t. He had no way to do it.

But God saw their desperation.

God moved on people here at home months before and led them to give so generously that we would have unplanned funds on hand so that He could make a bus late so that we could visit a family and see the need and respond.

As the meeting closed the father rose from his chair and quickly dropped to the floor and began kissing the feet of one of our team members.

As he approached me I noticed his worn and ripped clothing, his leathery bare feet and his smile. He hugged and kissed me rejoicing and speaking praises to God for meeting his family’s needs.

We were humbled to be part of such a special moment and to see God’s hand move to help a family that most of the world would never notice.

We just recently received pictures back through staff that mom had a healthy baby boy and she offered her thanks and blessings once again.

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Thank you to all of you who donate towards trips and needs on the ground.  This would not have been able to be accomplished without your generosity.

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