July 9, 2014

Bringing Hope to Awassa

Visit Awassa, Ethiopia with a team from Project HOPEFUL!

Come serve along side of us on a Mission Trip to Awassa, Ethiopia.  We would love to have you with us to meet your FIG child, serve at Ajuuja orphanage, and build relationships with the people in the communities we serve.  Please be aware that we are a different type of “mission”  trip that can be better described as a “vision”  trip.  Our trips are not as much as about “doing” as they are about learning and building relationships.  Our focus is to love and equip our families, support our staff in Ethiopia,  and build relationships.   Our teams include a maximum of eight people, which means we often have a waiting list of interested participants.  Our teams are selected after a careful review of the application and consideration of the balance of team members.  For more information please contact charisa@projecthopeful.org.

Our next trip is October 10-19, 2014.  Please fill out an application as soon as possible to be considered! The application link above has more info and costs.

So...what is a Project HOPEFUL Awassa mission trip like?

“A Project Hopeful Awassa trip is a journey with strangers who immediately feel like family. It’s about getting in a van and trusting your life to a crazy driver who turns out to be an angel who walks among us. It’s about not understanding in your mind a single word of what is being said to you, but understanding completely in your heart. It’s about smiling until the back of your head hurts. It’s about small gestures made with big love. It’s about holding the hands of tiny, grimy children at the fish market and hearing statistics from Zewdu that make your head spin and heart hurt. It’s about trying new food, honoring different customs, and appreciating a culture much older and richer than our own. It’s about noticing the presence of joy in the absence of material things. It’s about being okay with loose plans, and changing plans. It’s about sleeping on beds that might impale you with rusty springs or fold you in half with the lack thereof. It’s about being emotionally and physically tired, not sleeping well,  and pushing through anyway, not because you have to, but because nothing is going to stop you from loving on your FIG sponsor child and his family. It’s about dancing in church more than you’ve danced at the last five weddings you’ve attended.


You will likely feed monkeys and see hippos (or not). Maybe you will pass out care packages, paint walls, build a playground, shop for baby formula, teach someone how to make jewelry, or simply hold a hand. You will be graciously invited into people’s homes and you will start to put them into categories of poor, poorer, and poorest and you will feel like a jerk for doing so. Some homes you might have to give yourself a pep talk or bite your lip to stop yourself from breaking down in tears, in another home you’ll be amazed at the seamless competence of the hostess as the power goes off and flashlights appear in the middle of dinner and the food and drink still continues to appear. Oh, yeah. The power WILL go off. A lot. You will maybe have internet, you will maybe have hot water, or scalding water, or no water.

Your life back home will feel light years away and you will feel guilty for all you take for granted. You will hug, and hug, and hug, and people will sing and sing and sing. And you’ll wish you knew the words so you could sing along too. You will see feats of human strength, spirit, and endurance that will inspire and astound you and simultaneously break your heart. You will be treated like a rock star and you will feel completely undeserving. You will feel deep connection and love to everyone and everything. You will see things that will inspire you, sadden you, disgust you, and change you.

And when you return back to your home, people will ask what you did. The answer will be difficult because maybe you painted a room, preached a sermon, gave a lecture, held babies, took photos, or handed out care packages. How do you put into words the connection you created with the nannies as you decorate the baby rooms together in an effort to simply bring more joy and beauty to the sweet babies. How do you describe the honor of being invited into your FIG child’s home to witness their few possessions and YOU walk away feeling blessed and inspired by their joy and tenacious spirits? How do you describe being challenged to a dance off by an elderly woman with a gold tooth? Or being handed a mystery milky liquid in a dirty gourd with instructions to “drink this for the sake of the photo.” Maybe you will offer to teach a skill, and find they can do the skill much better, faster, and more efficiently than you. Like making jewelry and tying knots. Maybe you’ll be required to call on skills you haven’t used in a while. Like massage therapy when you learn the woman you are visiting isn’t just having problems with the scar tissue in her legs, but migraines and back pain too. Maybe the women in the house will look at you like you are crazy when you climb in the woman’s bed because she can’t get up and there’s no other way to massage her aching neck. But then those same women hug you with tears streaming down their cheeks because you helped their sister, friend and neighbor.


So what do you DO on a Project Hopeful trip? You show up with humility, flexibility, openness, some humor and courage, and a willingness to serve. You will tote bags to Ethiopia bursting at the seams with precious items that are urgently needed. Those bags will return empty, yet you will feel there was an exchange. But this time the precious cargo you shlep home is a heart bursting at the seams…and it will change everything.”

Allison M. Waddell

A recap video from our last trip.

June 24, 2014

Bekah’s heart for Ajuuja

So I’m Bekah…annnd I got to spend a month in Awassa, Ethiopia.


And I got to meet a lot of cool kids like this little guy. And we all know what we think an orphanage looks like. Lots of kids and bunk bends. And that’s true, sure, but there’s so much more when you meet these kids and staff.


You’d find out that M has a stuffed Tigger that she carries around all the time, and is quite protective of it.


And you’d learn the individual personalities of a lot of these little guys. You’d find out that D, who is 5, is really a sweet little boy, but really enjoys aggravating his friends to see their reactions

Or that E enjoys things being put on his head and falling off.

And you’d be confused one morning as you walk in the compound a pack of toddlers run up to you and all start talking excitedly at once. Until someone explains that they’re telling you a monkey was in the orphanage this morning.


And you’d be slightly disturbed as a group of boys found a beetle that they argued over and poked with a broom. And then remember that they’re just boys.

(and I really wish I could show you their faces, because they’re all beautiful, amazing kids, but anywho..)


And as you sat (with greasy, unkempt hair) and looked in the eyes of these sweet children, you’d wonder what their life would be like if Ajuuja, the orphanage these kids call home, didn’t exist. They’d be at another orphanage. Or on the streets. Or worse.

And I’ve now been to 3 of the 4 remaining orphanages in Awassa. And I can say with full confidence that Ajuuja is the best for the children out of all of them.

And I can say without a doubt, these kids are better off in Ajuuja’s children’s home than they are on the streets. Seeing toddlers pulling food out of sewage, knowing how easily it could’ve been any of my little friend’s at Ajuuja, broke my heart.

But here’s the thing.

Supporting all these kids costs money.

And a lot of American support has been stopped because adoptions have stopped. And now there’s nothing in it for them, so why support it?

Um..maybe because the lives and well-being of children literally depends on Ajuuja. I mean, that seems like a good reason to me.IMG_8982

Seriously though. It’s for the kids. I wouldn’t ask for me, but I will for them. I wouldn’t fundraise (much to my mother’s frustration) at all for the time I stayed in May.

But this isn’t for me. It’s for the kids. The kids that put their shoes on the wrong feet. And argue with each other like siblings. And love each other and laugh together.

And here’s what they need.

They need nannies, because I’ve never meet a two year old who is responsible enough to care for themselves.


You know how much it would take to support them for a month? To pay for a nanny’s salary? $53. That’s it. An entire month. Fifty-three dollars. That’s like the cost of cutting out eating fast food for  week.

And they also need guards. And I don’t have any pictures of them (sorry guys.)

But they do more than make sure no “bad guys” get in. All the kids know them, and love them, and get excited when they walk around to the back of the compound where all the kids are playing.

And you know how much their salary would cost for you to provide? $42. FORTY TWO DOLLARS. Seriously.

And if you can’t give that much, or that much regularly, can you give $5? $10? Lay off the taquitos for a week and give $20? I don’t know.

But please, just consider it.

Not just for some random faces on a computer screen. But for kids that I love. Kids that need food and shelter. For them.

If you can donate, do so here:


“It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
Mother Teresa

June 14, 2014

Bringing Hope to Awassa

On May 2 a team of 8 headed out to Awassa, Ethiopia. It was the first “mission” trip for three of the members and everyone was excited to go and “bring hope” to the children and families of Awassa, Ethiopia.

There are many stories to share and this blog post can’t contain them all (it would be really long!!) but I wanted to give you the highlight reel.

Highlights of of the trip:

Visited FIG families:

Several team members were blessed to visit with their sponsored child in the Family In the Gap program. This is always a very special time for both families.

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Painted and loved on the children at Ajuuja:


Visited the Enabling Independence women in Awassa and LOVED seeing their bank books with lots of DEPOSITS in them and eating their food!


Saw the CLEAN WATER in Aleta Wondo that you funded!:


Visited the future clean water site in Bona that you just funded:


Educated on hygiene, malaria, and HIV:


Handed out God’s word:


Remember Sitota? You built his house last year!


Visited the next set of Enabling Independence women to be funded in Boricha.



Delivered wheelchairs you purchased for a family!


Each place we went to, and every family we visited-- we prayed with, hugged, kissed, and love……bringing HOPE into people’s lives. We repeatedly heard the words hope and change because of the love and support that you are funding with your donations!

Go to this link to watch our recap video!


Thank you for your generous continued support for these families!


FIG Awassa Director

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