report on bobbi’s trip to ethiopia
Hey, it’s Molly! One of the best parts of my job is when I get to work on charitable contributions. You may remember a few months back when we introduced you to our friend Bobbi as she was raising money to fund a relief trip to Ethiopia with the charity Kids Hope Ethiopia. Thanks to the support of many, she earned enough money to help fund her trip! Before she left on her expedition, she asked if we would be able to send some Project Life® kits and albums for the children to use. We were more than happy to send enough Project Life cards, albums, and protectors to use in each of the 9 centers where she served. We asked her to share some of her feelings about the experience and wanted to share it here along with photos of the adorable kids that she helped! We were touched as we read through Bobbi’s experiences and looked at her beautiful photos, and we know you will be, too!
Have you ever watched those touching programs on television – you know, the ones where the hosts introduce you to a child stricken by poverty and tells you their heart-wrenching story before inviting you to help in some way? I have seen several, and I’m always left asking myself, “How can I make a difference?”
This past October, I had my chance. I had the amazing opportunity to join a humanitarian expedition to Ethiopia with an outstanding organization called Kids Hope Ethiopia. You might remember a few months back when I shared a digital Project Life kit that I designed as a way to raise funds for this trip. Because of the generous support of so many, I was able to make the trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in October 2015, and let me tell you – I am changed.
A few years ago, my husband and I were introduced to Kids Hope Ethiopia through some friends. We, of course, were impressed by the work they were doing for vulnerable children in Africa and we stayed connected to the organization. A couple of years ago, my husband procured his dream job as the executive director for Kids Hope. He had done his thesis work on humanitarian aid and charity work, and he knew that Kids Hope Ethiopia was doing things right.
My experience in Ethiopia was eye opening, heart softening, and life changing. I saw, first hand, what poverty – true poverty – looks like and it was shocking. I learned how thousands of children are orphaned, have nowhere to live, no one to care for them, and no chance to realize their potential. It was humbling and, honestly, scary. I couldn’t imagine my own children living in the circumstances I saw so many children living in. But the most important thing I learned was that change CAN happen and I can be a part of that. Seeing the Kids Hope Ethiopia programs gave me great confidence that the cycle of poverty is being beaten.
A little about the charity – Kids Hope Ethiopia (or Canadian Humanitarian as it’s known in Canada) finds the most vulnerable children in an area and enrolls them in their education programs. These programs pay for their tuition, pay for school uniforms, give these children at least one meal per day, offer them at least 1-2 medical check-ups each year, give them tutoring for their lessons, and give them a safe place to gather together, work on homework (a place with things like tables, chairs, lights, and even showers), and participate in extracurricular activities such as dance, music, and art.
Now these children are able to dream about their future – they can HAVE dreams because they have the way opened for them to REALIZE their dreams. Kids Hope Ethiopia supports these children through elementary and high school, and even through college (we’re talking a LONG TERM commitment) until they gain good employment and are independent. In this way, they break free from the cycle of poverty and their children will never need the programs. Brilliant, right?
My main purpose in being there was as a photographer. I was there to photograph each student in each center, not only for their files but to give to their sponsors, as well as have a copy given to them to keep. Now, for children who don’t even own mirrors, having a photograph of themselves is a priceless treasure. When we would hand out their photos, they would hug them tightly to their chests. I had several students offer me their meal for the day – their ONE meal for the day – as a sign of appreciation for giving them the photos. Photos have always had meaning for me, but after seeing the way they treasure photographs, I will treasure mine even more.
The problem was that they love photographs so much but have nowhere to keep them, not even at the center. I noticed that many of the photos given to them by volunteers in the past had been pasted to the concrete walls of the center and had become torn, bent, and faded. My husband had told me about this problem after he had visited Ethiopia a couple of years ago, and I just knew that there had to be a solution. And I knew exactly what that solution should be – Project Life!
Becky donated albums and card kits for each center, and I was blessed enough to be able to present each center with their album. As I explained what it was – how the photos of those who visit their center and photos of their activities and experiences would be kept safe in the albums — I could see the excitement in their faces. When I explained how the visitors would be able to write notes and draw pictures for them on the Project Life cards, they clapped and cheered. Photographs are precious to them – they are rare – and to have something so special to keep them in was such a wonderful gift.
I was thrilled to share Project Life with them and to start out the album with the photo of our group with some notes of love from each of us. It melted my heart to see the children hug the album to their chests. I know that small gift made a lasting impact. The children were also able to use some 4X6 journaling cards from my own personal Project Life stash to write notes and draw pictures for their sponsors back in North America. They practiced and practiced on scrap paper so their final copy on the cards would be perfect. It was such a sweet sight to see.
Having this experience has changed the way I see the world. I think it helped me see the world more as it is and has altered my perspective and my priorities. My family and I have chosen to sponsor a little girl I met while in a small village outside of Addis. She is one of so many who need sponsors – especially now when Ethiopia is suffering through a terrible drought. It is a very serious situation, and I know there will be thousands suffering. I witnessed the scorched crops and the dry dust bowl that was the countryside. Sponsoring a child is the very least I can do, and I know that my small amount each month will make a very real difference because I’ve seen it.
If you’d like to sponsor a child or just give a general donation to help this great charity continue its work, then please visit their website below:
I believe change can happen. And I know we can make that change happen together.