Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
There is No Me Without You
- "when it rained they lay flat [on the sidewalk] and pulled a length of plastic over themselves and their baby" (pg14) when speaking of the life they made on the sidewalk.
- "the father had lost his only treasure, accepting , like a receipt, his son's forwarding address" (pg16)
- "I am deeply respectful of the families who care for our children. But I am so very interested in any help that can be given to us to keep the children's first parents alive." quoted in Nov 2005 by the head of Children's COmmission under Ethiopia's Ministry of Labor, the arbiter of intercountry adoptions. (pg 25)
Up, Up and Away
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Update of sorts
Other updates include:
- The group going to Ethiopia is called Team Tasfa. Tasfa translates to Hope in Amharic.
- The matching well-drilling project went well. What a challenge for Lory and Jo's families as you guys caused them to dig deep into their pockets.
- I updated the meters on the side which show where we're at in fundraising. Thank you to all who've supported us. If you still need to send your contribution, please do that ASAP. We have to have our tickets paid for by March 8th.
- Yesterday, I sent letters of support to seed companies in Iowa hoping/praying that they'll sponsor the seed money which has had little response.
- Got two books today. Maria mailed me "there's no me without you" to borrow. Our library in town borrowed "Foreign to familiar" from another library so we picked that up today. Better get to reading. I'm still looking for When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor by Brian Fikkert and steve Corbet and The Hospital by the River by Catherine Hamlin. If you're willing to share those, please let me know.
Okay, that's it for now.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thanks Dr. Denise
- Use pigeon peas. They are a good forage for animals and a good food for people. I think I've also recently heard that they're good for soils so I'll be looking into that some more.
- Tour a local farm (and pay a per diem for doing so) to get an idea of how farming works in the Shanto area.
- Increase purchasing power. For example, everyone puts 10 birr (their currency) a week into a pot. One woman will take all the money one week. Another the next week and so on. This allows the women to have more money which gives them more purchasing power.
- Consider the use of intercropping.
- Create a test plot on church property or government property. This would show them how to do things without them having the risk of losing a crop.
- Check out ECHO out of Florida. I haven't done this yet but it's on my list of things to do.
- Plowing is mans work. It's hard to hire someone to come plow small plots of land. Having women collectively have all their land plowed at the same time would help.
- Market. One woman would take the crop for multiple women one day. The second one takes the crop the next day, etc. This allows the woman more time to be tending their crop, taking care of children, etc.
- Farming God's Way. I need to look into this some more too.
Thanks Denise for giving me more to consider before I head to Ethiopia!
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Judah: Momma, can you get me some more CLEAN water?
Me: Sure honey. And when you get home, you can have all the clean water you want.
People in Shanto don't even know what it means to have clean water. Wouldn't it be great to change that for them? You can. Do you have a piggy bank or a jar you throw your change in? Would you be willing to donate it towards FOVC's well drilling projects? You can donate here: www.fovc.org/donate.html. Your gift this week is tripled thanks to the Howlett's and Jo's matching gifts. Isn't that cool!?!?!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
$10 = $30 this week
Who knew there was such a thing. Unlike a H@llmark Holiday, this is one I'll support. Here's why I value this day I never knew about:
Often times, pictures are worth more than statistics to me. The pictures engrained in my mind are worth a thousand words for sure. While in Ethiopia, I saw people filling their water jugs, bathing, and washing clothing all in the same filthy water. Could you imagine that? Would you take a bath and then wash your clothes in said bath water? And that's clean water. Imagine if it was full of water borne bacteria!
I don't want to get too wordy. It's simple really. People need to have access to clean water. In Shanto, the town we'll be serving in Ethiopia, they have an old, dirty well. It can be turned on for 1 hour a day. In that hour they get 4-5 gallons of water per family to use for the day. FOVC is raising money to dig wells in Shanto and surrounding communities. In light of World Water Day, two big supporters of FOVC are matching all donations given this week through the donation page. So, your donation of $10 this week automatically becomes $30.
Are you ready to dig deep? Donate here http://www.fovc.org/donate.html
photo by Ingrid Olsen
Part of FOVC's ministry is to help widows in the village. In America when a women loses her husband it is difficult but many qualify for social security benefits and there is often life insurance. In Ethiopia the story is much worse. Often widows are young, have multiple children and usually their parents or in-laws live with them. They are caring and providing for many people. Some are forced to give their children away. The average life expectancy in Ethiopia is 55.2 years versus 78.4 years in the United States.
Team Tasfa hired FOVC's widows to cook for us. We paid for the food and their labor. After I realized how precious water is, I felt bad seeing them use it to wash our dishes. There are 8,000 people in Shanto and 2 wells. They are turned on for a short time everyday and each household gets one jug of water. It is the yellow jug you see. I would estimate 4-5 gallons. The water is not filtered. Since there are no lakes or rivers in this area they don't have enough water to take a bath or wash clothes regularly. My guess is during the rainy season they are able to wash themselves and wash clothes but that is only a couple months out of the year. In the larger cities of Ethiopia water is more available but millions of people live in rural areas.
Upon returning home one of my team members, Rick, hit the ground running! He immediately started working with an organization that has been involved in digging wells in Africa. God moved through that situation and the process to dig more wells has begun. Money is currently being raised for the project. If you are interested in donating check out the FOVC website or contact Lory at email@example.com.
Monday, March 21, 2011
So a while back my friend Megan sent me a link to a document that has a detailed map in it. I wasn't successful in getting the map to print out today but I loved the document she sent to me. She had no clue that the document she sent me for the map, was a document that I'd find useful in preparing to go. So thanks my dear Megan for being part of the trip before I even knew I was going!
The sermon on Sunday was encouraging and wonderful. The sermon's get posted here http://www.sermon.net/elginfirstbaptist. Yesterday's isn't up yet so I'll just tell you about it. Pastor Lee taught from Acts 21:1-16 which talks about Paul's last journey. He'd been warned that he would be killed. But he knew that he was called to go there and went. Pastor had two main points which were profound in my mind:
- When you're called by the Holy Spirit, OBEY.
- When someone is called, we need not to pour cold water on them but to send them off with a blessing.
This was profound for me because we have been studying through Acts. Pastor Lee didn't pull some scripture out to fit two people in the church. It was the sermon that was preached one week after we shared with the church that we were going. It was also profound because quite honestly, and sadly, we hadn't felt loved, supported, or encouraged by our church family. From my little perspective, here was the leader of our church standing before everyone telling them to obey when called and to bless when someone else is going. That's us. We're not asking that everyone support us financially. But it would be nice to feel loved and supported, not discouraged, by our church family. How cool is that.
What else??? I'm sure there will be more for me to try to remember documenting!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
* reminder: checks can be written to Rocky Mountain Christian Church and mailed to Lory Howlett, FOVC, 1428 Venice Lane, Longmont, CO 80503. You can write "Ethiopia trip" in the memo line and attach a sticky note that has my name on it so it goes towards my expenses. Thanks.
In-country expenses are due in early May. So, we have a little more time to come up with that money ($2,ooo).
According to IRS rules, if we have a bunch of generous donors and raise more than we need for the trip, that extra money will go to FOVC. On the last trip they has some extra money that went to FOVC. FOVC used it to purchase sewing machines for the widows hope projects.
Donations in my Luggage
Each of us will be allowed 100 pounds of checked luggage, a 15 pound carry-on and a personal item. Our goal is for each of us to take 50-60 pounds of donations in our luggage. Some of you have asked if you can help by sending stuff. Lory is communicating with Desalegn about FOVC's needs. I'm guessing that the blankets and clothes are still a ned since they came right off the FOVC blog.
I need help with some homework assignments. Preparing my heart and mind before travel can make me a better team-mate. So far, I've been studying climate, cropping, etc. After all, I'm considered the crops and soils expert (oh boy!). But there's so much more Ryan and I can (and are expected to) do before we travel. So, there's a few books that I need to read. Some have been on my list of wanted books for a while. Others are recent recommendations from Lory. If you have any of the following books that you'd be willing to share/donate to me, please let me know:
- Foreign to Familiar - A Guide to Understanding hot and cold climate cultures by sarah Lanier.
- There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Green
- When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor by Brian Fikkert and steve Corbet.
- The Hospital by the River by Catherine Hamlin.
Okay, that's it for now!
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
We are so thankful for those who have partnered with us. We have had several generous donations. We know that not everyone can donate $1,000, $500 or even $200. We are certainly amazed at the generosity of those gifts. We also look forward to and appreciate those gifts where someone gave up their Starbucks for the month or a gift where someone sacrificed and gave to FOVC instead of buying that new pair of shoes.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Praying that our church continues to jump on board with us - with prayer or financially!
Trip with a Mission
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. [James 1:27]
We're not just going to visit the orphans and the widows, we're going to teach them something that will benefit them long term.
Further, James chapter 2, verse 20 says that faith without works is useless. So, we'll be putting our faith into action by going to serve in Ethiopia. I can't wait!!!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
- The traditional zone name is Weyna Dega.
- Two ranges for the altitude: 4921-7545'. That's quite a difference between the two elevations. Guess I'll have to dig more to get this fine-tuned.
- Okay so temps average 61-70 from what I can tell. I wonder how the degree days compare to ours here in NE Iowa. From the selfish side of things, I'm bummed that it won't be warmer while I'm there :)
- Some cereals they grow are Millet, Maize, Sorghum, Rice, Wheat, Barley, Teff, and Oats
- Some legumes they grow are Cowpea, Sunflower, Haricot Bean, Chickpea, Lentil, Faba Bean, Faba Pea, and Nigerseed. Yeah, I don't even know what all of those are!
- And a few other things they grow are Sweet Potato, Citrus, Chili, Coffee, Tea, Potato, and Enset. Mmm, looking forward to seeing these grow!
So, I wonder what they grow. What the elevation is in Soddo. Specifically how much rain they get. When do they typically plant and harvest crops.
Monday, March 14, 2011
3 Rainy Seasons
Three Seasons: The central and most of the eastern part of the country have two rainy periods and one dry period. These seasons are known locally as the main Kiremt rains (June –September), small Belg rains, (February-May), and dry Bega season (October-January).
· Kirmet rainfall is very important because 90-95 percent of the food is produced during this main meher crop season. Drought during kiremt may lead to food insecurity because this is when most parts of the country receive 60-90 percent of their rainfall.
· The belg harvest accounts for only 5 to 10 percent of the total annual grain production of the country, but it may provide up to 50 percent of the yearly food supply in the some highland areas, such as Wollo and Shewa regions (all belg regions and the north-central belg region).
So with this info, I know that I'll be going during the main rainy season. Well, I already knew that from adoption stuff but I'm seeing it in scientific documentation. Anyway, since I'm going at the start of the main rain season, this might be a good time to plant crops. Some of my next steps include what crops to plant, what the temperature cycle and degree days are, and the length of the crop seasons.
Time to do more digging... and keeping my fingers crossed (okay, really I'm praying, not crossing my fingers) that I can get additional information I'd like to have before going to Ethiopia!
Sunday, March 13, 2011
The other night when after spending hours on the computer preparing for my role, I was getting worried about it again. I refreshed my email one more time before heading to bed. I had a new email from a dear friend. She would love to go along but since she can't, she wanted to partner with us anyway and committed to a large financial gift. Thank you God for continuing to show me that you're in charge; that I need to leave this in Your hands. Help me to trust, Lord.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
It's so hard for me to ask for money. But I did. And I will. I will set aside my pride so that I can love and serve women in Southern Ethiopia. I sent out an email asking for support earlier this week. I've heard back from a few of you. Thanks so much for your willingness to partner with us in prayer, seed money or our travel fund.
A few of you I've talked to and know that you'll particpate. When you get a chance or get it figured out, will you let me know if you want your financial gift to be for the project or for our travel fund so that I can update my fundraising meters. If you don't care, I'll put it where most needed. Any money I get beyond our travel expenses will go to seed money or towards vaccinations for Ryan's work with the widows.
This next week, we'll be mailing support letters out to some friends and family. I would appreciate if you would continue to lift us up in prayer as we raise support, learn how to serve the women in our respective crops and livestock areas, and prepare to GO.
Friday, March 11, 2011
One Year Ago
One year ago today, a little boy named Asfaw Ayele was no longer an orphan.
One year ago today, we had a new member of our family.
One year ago I was relieved to pass court and began counting the weeks until we could travel to get our son!
Judah, I'm so glad that you are part of our family. FOREVER!
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
FOVC and me
For those who don't know, I was born and raised in a central California farming community, I attended California State University, Fresno where I received a BS in Agriculture Education and plant science. I worked for the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service starting in college and upon graduation, moved to Northeast Iowa for a permanent position. Marriage and 2 biological kids later, we adopted a 2 year old boy and brought him home from Ethiopia last May. While driving through the country side in Ethiopia, I paid close attention to the farming operations and erosion because that's what I do for a career. While there, we were able to meet our son's birth mother. She's an amazing woman who lost her husband to pneumonia and then made the courageous decision to give up her youngest child for adoption because they were literally starving.
Since coming home 10 months ago, I continue to think about the poverty-stricken families in rural Southern Ethiopia. Most of the families live on less than $1 per day (which would buy two bunches of bananas as a comparison). When left as widows, the situation often becomes desperate. This is part of the reason there were 2,227 Ethiopian children adopted by U.S. families in 2009 (statistics found here). My desire to get involved in teaching them sustainable practices came to fruitition when I connected with Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children. FOVC is a grassroots organization dedicated to educating and supporting orphans, vulnerable children, and widows in Ethiopia and empowers them to break the cycle of poverty and hunger as they offer them hope and independence for the future.
In Ethiopia, too many children are living in extreme poverty in one parent homes. Because of abandonment, death from HIV/AIDS, malaria or other preventable diseases, mothers are raising their children alone. They are trying to keep the family together but most do not have education or skills to provide properly for their family. Partnership with FOVC helps these women provide for their children and keep them from becoming orphans. In addition to FOVC's other areas of service, they have a specific program called Hope for Widows. On a personal level, I can't fathom the heart ache of relinquishing a child. Judah's birth mom had to do that and is missing out on his dimples, his energy and his good behavior. I don't want her, or women like her, to have to go through that painful decision of relinquishing another child. Because of my education, career, international experience, and interest, I have been asked by FOVC to head up their crops portion of the Hope for Widows Project. To date, this is the only part of the project they have not been able to get off the ground. Additonally, they've asked Ryan to take part in their livestock for widows portion as a practicing veterinarian and someone who's worked in veterinary medicine in rural Mongolia.
When normal agricultural cycles are disrupted and sources of crop seeds are gone, people struggle to survive at the most basic level. Sadly, this is all too often the case in rural southern Ethiopia. Donations of $1,874 would provide over 220 pounds of seeds— nourishing maize, teff, beans, potatoes and onions - growing food for FOVC's widows and all of their children for years to come. As with our other Widow's Hope programs, the women in the program will make small re-payments to the Crops for Widows fund, so more widows and their families can be helped in the future. Now isn’t that a seed worth sowing? My goal is to take $2,000 U.S. dollars of seed money with me when I travel to Ethiopia. I've been asked to join a small team in late May/early June. The team will do various things. My responsibility will be to educate the women in the basics of farming (what likely had been there husbands livelihood). Ryan has been asked to join the team as well. His knowledge and experience will be used to work with the livestock.
This is where you can play a valuable role.
In the next 2 months, I will be raising up partners to establish the seed money for the "Crops for Widows" project. Additionally, Ryan and I will have to come up with over $5,000 for our travel and daily expenses. If you would like to partner with the project and/or with us personally, we would be greatful.
Here's the details for those interested: for the two of us to travel, we are looking at an estimated $3,000 in airline tickets and $2,400 that would cover daily expenses for the estimated 12 days of travel. Those expenses include all food, lodging, transportation, tips, water, taxis, etc. Because this organization is funding programs to serve the Ethiopians, we are responsible for 100% of the costs of the trip. In addition to giving up our vacation time, we need to fund our expenses. Having just comleted an adoption, we can't do this alone. With 5 donors at the $200 level, 10 donors at the $100 level, 20 donors at $50 level, and 20 donors at the $20 level, we would raise a fair amount but still be personally responsible for $2,000.
Our goal is to raise the majority of the funds. This isn't about me meeting a goal though, it's about changing the lives not just one child but of entire villages. Will you partner with us? Will you partner and encourage these women and their children? Please, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, would like more information, etc. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your time. That in itself is much appreciated as I work to plant seeds.
Tax deductible checks may be written to Rocky Mountain Christian Church and mailed to me at Lory Howlett, FOVC, 1428 Venice Lane, Longmont, CO 80503. Please do not put anything in the memo line. Instead, please attach a sticky note or something that says "Tamara B" or "seed money" depending on what you want to support. Thanks!
Eager and ready to serve,
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Have you ever heard of Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children? I occasionally have seen the link to their website on one of the yahoo boards that I participate in. In early February, I decided to check it out for myself. You can do the same at http://www.fovc.org/.
What initially had my interest in FOVC was that they are in the Wolayta region of Ethiopia and Judah was born in Wolayta. Then as I read through their website, everything I read grabbed my interest:
- Building an Orphanage
- Raising money for new wells to be drilled
- Grassroots organization
- Working to provide hope for widows in several areas: livestock project, handicrafts project, and a crops projects.
- Their projects are self-sustaining - the widows receive loans that are paid back so that the money can be loaned to other women.
In early February I read Lory Howlett's blog and left a comment. Recently I read even more on the website and decided to email Lory. I couldn't stand idolly by. Over the last week, both Ryan and I seem to have found a good fit with FOVC.
... to be continued
If you haven't already done so, please take a peek at their website before my next post http://www.fovc.org/
Monday, March 7, 2011
10 Months Home...
Since we've been home 10 months as of today, I thought I'd share 10 things about Judah and/or how he's impacted my life.
- I cut Judah's hair. We keep it simple. Saturday, Ryan was home with the kids. When it came time for baths, Ryan asked Judah if he wanted his hair to match Ryan's. Judah said yes. Ryan trimmed it short, lathered his head up and shaved it with a straight razor.
- Judah still hasn't stayed the night anywhere without mommy and daddy.
- He's growing again. Judah turned 3 a month ago and is now growing out of some 3t shirts.
- Judah used to fall right to sleep when we laid him down. He's over that now and instead is really good at pretending he's asleep.
- Judah is super mechanical. Future engineer maybe???
- Though Judah has learned to cause trouble like his siblings, he's still a really good listener at bed time.
- He's a joy-filled little boy.
- Ryan loves his complexion!
- His beautiful smile, big eyes and sweet smooches make me sad for his first momma but are also a good reminder to pray for her.
- It's because of Judah and his birth mom that Ryan and I are planning to give back to southern Ethiopia and travel to the Wolayta region in May with Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (www.fovc.org). *more on this later *
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Anyway, I wanted to share a really cool way that you can support their adoption and at the same time, help provide for needs children in Ethiopia. It's a double benefit. A $10 donation will provide one pair of croc-like shoes for a child in Ethiopia and help LeAnn and family raise money to help pay for their son's plane ticket home. How cool is that! I love this idea. Click here to make one donation that helps in two ways. You can read the specifics about their fundraiser and desire to provide shoes to kids in need here.
For those who like shoes, would you consider donating shoes to a child in need? For those who've adopted a child, would you donate shoes that might end up in the community your child is from. How cool would that be!?!?!?
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
There's a really cool organization working in Ethiopia near where our son was born and lived the first 18 months of his life. Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (FOVC) is a grassroots organization lead by an Ethiopian and supported by Americans. You can read more about them on their website: http://www.fovc.org/about.html
This picture has a story behind it. I read it here on Lory's blog. Here's what she says: the picture is of an FOVC boy's shoes...he couldn't help with the building project because the shoes were so tattered....before Team Tasfa member Ingrid outfitted him with new shoes. The boy was found, crying and alone, a couple of hours later. Investigating the reason for his tears, Ingrid learned he was overcome with tears of joy because he had been given a real pair of shoes.
*edited to add: How cool that Ingrid, the one who gave the boy the shoes, commented on my blog. She linked the actual story in her comment. If you want to read it from her point of view, check it out here: http://12knotheel.blogspot.com/2011/01/our-team-brought-over-multiple.html
Wow. And I have how many pairs of shoes in my closet?!?! Most of which I don't wear because the soles are worn out and they're no longer comfortable.
Did you know that $250 buys 40 pairs of shoes for kids in need? Wow. Do you know what I spent on my last pair of Keen's? This is the same reason that I couldn't bring myself to buy the pair of keens I showed you in this post. Anyone want to save a few bucks, throw the money together and buy shoes for kids in need?