Thursday, October 2, 2014

There is no trust more sacred ...

"There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children.  There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want, and they they grow up in peace." ~Kofi Annan (The State of the World's Children 2000)

Four hundred kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory CarePoints in Ethiopia are experiencing the life-changing affects of that sacred trust. 

Through the provision of sponsorship, each child has nutritious meals and clean water they can count on every day.  Immediate and critical needs necessary for their survival, health and well-being. 

Medical care and clothing as well. 

And transforming their future ... education and Christian discipleship with the loving care, concern and mentoring from the staff at each CarePoint.











Our team of twenty volunteers will be leaving for Ethiopia in mid-November to work one-on-one with these kids we have come to know and love over the years. 

There are still a few kids that are waiting for a sponsor family.  $38 per month provides for all of their basic needs - and transforms their lives!  If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please email me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com to be matched with a waiting child.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Til the Cows Come Home

At Trees of Glory CarePoint in Ethiopia, the cows are coming home ...

Walking side by side with Simret (the founder and director of Trees of Glory), she pointed to a number of projects that a future livestock project would benefit at the CarePoint. 



Not only would livestock provide nutritious milk for the 230+ kids attending the CarePoint every day, but excess milk would provide an important source of income as well. 

The local markets have staple products like rice, tef, beans, oil and spices available for purchase and trade by the local villagers, but important nutrition sources like milk and eggs are in short supply. 

The poultry project, which has been underway at Trees of Glory for a few years has not only provided ample eggs for the children, but has provided a valuable nutrition source for the local villages AND provided an income source for the CarePoint that has made the poultry farm self-sufficient!



It is with this same vision that Simret explained the numerous benefits of a future livestock project that would have far-reaching effects beyond the obvious nutritious milk provided by the cows.

In Ethiopia, where trees and firewood are not in abundance, cow dung is dried and used as a fuel source.  The dung can be sold in the local markets to produce income and it can be provided for free to the poorest of families so they can use their small earnings to purchase food instead of fuel.



The dung can also be used to fertilize and replenish the depleted soil as gardens and orchards are being planted at the CarePoint.  "Orchards???" I questioned, wondering if I had heard her correctly.



Simret smiled proudly and walked us over to an area where a drip irrigation system had been dug by hand.  Soil was being tilled with dung and small apple trees were already planted.  Again, not only a valuable future nutrition source for the kids, but an income source when the apples can be supplied in the local markets!

Perhaps the most suprising and inspirational plan is how Trees of Glory has already implemented a bio-fuel system in the kitchen at the CarePoint.  Dung, from the few cows already at the CarePoint, is being used within a bio-fuel system to create methane gas that provides fuel on-demand for cooking.



Buffalo Covenant Church in Buffalo, MN came alongside Trees of Glory CarePoint with their annual Christmas Love project to fully fund the new livestock project!  Not only to provide pregnant cows to immediately expand the herd when calves are born, but to build a barn to protect and house the cows.

And as the barn nears completion in Ethiopia, the cows are beginning to come home.  Three healthy cows have already taken up residence in the nearly completed structure!!


 
 
 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

School Supplies for Kind Hearts Kids

I smile as I see a message in my inbox from Ethiopia and click on the images to see the smiling faces of the kids at Kind Hearts! 

School supplies are always in high demand at Kind Hearts school because the kids take their education so seriously - and school supplies are an expense that is hard to justify for families who are struggling to feed themselves.  When volunteer teams travel to Ethiopia, this is always something at the top of the list that the kids appreciate.

Recently, Kind Hearts was able to provide each child with new school supplies provided by their sponsor families (through monthly sponsor funds).  Each child received 5 exercise/notebooks along with pencils and pens.  Here are a few photos as the kids received their supplies ...

Kind Hearts sponsor families - THANK YOU for your ongoing love, support and encouragement for these kids!!









Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pressing Love into Each Child (Ethiopia)

As the suitcases are pulled from the vans and laid out on the tables, the kids start buzzing with excitement.  This is the day we sit with each child and a translator, give them one-on-one attention, unwrap the care-package sent by their sponsor family, and pour over each photo and letter. 
 


They let the words wash over them ... "We love you!" ... "We think about you all the time." ... "We are praying for you." ... "You are smart, you are beautiful, you are so very precious to us." ...     And they soak the words in.  Smiling shyly, swinging their feet, and grinning from ear to ear.  Their eyes are glued to the photos of their family in America.

And even though the packages are filled with special gifts picked just for them, things they need like a new shirt, underwear, socks, and soap and a few things like pencils, chapstick and a doll or matchbox car ... their focus is on the letter and the photos.

One of the things I appreciate so much about our HopeChest staff and our volunteers and translators, is how they use this one-on-one time to touch and hug and love the kids.  To press into them through touch and eye contact how precious and valuable they are to us and to God.

I will never forget being told by one of the kids at Kind Hearts, who scavenged in garbage for things to eat and things to sell. "I ate garbage, I walked in garbage. I was garbage.... but I'm not garbage any more." And I could look into his eyes, with tears welling up in my own and say ... "Oh you are most definitely NOT garbage."

And it wasn't just empty words. Through the provision of his sponsor family who loved him enough to provide for him ... and through the daily encouragement and love of the staff and teachers at the CarePoint and Children's HopeChest ... he knew. Knew it in his heart ... he was not garbage.

The photos below are from Kind Hearts CarePoint, as the kids received their packages. 

Pictures of family ...






 
 
Letting the words from the letters sink into their hearts ...
 











Knowing the importance of a touch and a hug ...






 
 
 








And then there's this little peanut, Kidist.  Her sponsor family waited for over a year to see her beautiful smile, as every picture before this has been of a sad and scared little girl.  She was the very last child in line to get her package, and she waited so patiently for the 200 kids ahead of her.  Her eyes were lit up as she watched the other kids get their packages and she genuinely smiled for each of them as she waited.

And then finally it was her turn ... to hop up into the chair and see her family's smiling faces and hear their words of love and encouragement, and she hugged their picture to herself and she grinned and grinned and grinned.