October 04, 2021
Dear Hopethiopia friends and encouragers,
One of the main purposes of our trip to Rwanda and Ethiopia was for Glenda and myself to get a feel for what the situation is actually like on the ground, what it takes to get around during COVID, and what protocols we need to put into place before mission and volunteer teams can return.
Overall we found the situation to be quite safe. The number of COVID cases and deaths in both Rwanda and Ethiopia seem to be far less than in Canada, although it is unclear what the testing rates are really like and how accurate the stats are. Moving around was very open and we just needed to follow most of the same procedures as in Canada such as social distancing and wearing masks etc. Most local people abided by these rules as penalties can be very high. Also the vaccine rates are increasing and most people in the urban areas can get a vaccine if they want one. It will take some time for this to filter down to the rural populations.
After a very busy two weeks in Rwanda, we flew to Ethiopia and it was a very interesting time as the Addis Ababa city administration was established for the next five years. Our Hopethiopia close friend and supporter, Adanech, was voted to stay on as mayor and she is a great representative for the country. For sure she is one of the top officials in the country and very highly respected.
The first few days in Addis were very busy with meetings. It is the end of the rainy season in Ethiopia (July to September) so the climate was very nice and moderate with temperatures in the mid 20’s.
Not having been back to Ethiopia for 18 months it is amazing to see the changes that have occurred. The country is becoming more “green” as the reforestation and environmental programs are increasing with a vision to plant billions of trees in the next few years. Many parks have been built in Addis Ababa, and the skyline is changing dramatically. I have always appreciated the beauty of Kigali, Rwanda as they have paid great attention to detail and the beautification of the city. It now appears to be the turn of Addis as it is becoming a jewel in Africa showing what can be done when there is vision and commitment.
Since Hopethiopia’s vision is to help bring transformation to the lives of orphaned children, abandoned and widowed women, we were invited to visit the state-run regional orphan and child care centre. This facility was previously run by a US-based NGO that was involved in the international adoption of children. Due to very significant problems in the overall process, the Ethiopian government totally shut down these adoptions and now orphans must stay in the country and either go back to their relatives (if there are any), go into programs and facilities like Hopethiopia, enter a state-run Regional centre, or be adopted locally. Our good friend Minase now runs the regional facility. I had a wonderful time visiting with the children and staff as they were very sweet and interested to learn about Canada and what we do at Hopethiopia. They really need prayer as they face very challenging conditions. We would be happy to help this Regional centre. God does hear the prayers of the marginalized and disadvantaged, and I am sure that together great progress can be made. The facility has huge potential and a large compound for their operations. There is a great opportunity to make the lands productive and we will help them to become a bit more self-sufficient which will help them practically as well as teach the kids some great skills for their future.
We are also planning on bringing the Hopethiopia kids (of the Children’s Village) and the house moms and staff on a mission trip to play sports, do crafts, sing songs and just have a great time of sharing with the kids at the Regional centre. This will be sure to bring hope and love to the kids that are in desperate need of encouragement. We try to take our kids on regular mission trips as they must also be involved in serving the poor and disadvantaged. Scripture tells us that True religion is to take care of (visit) the widows and the orphans… James 1:27. Also Luke 10:27 tells us that we must love the Lord… love our neighbors… and love ourselves. So that is what we do and the kids are super excited to serve.
Speaking of our kids, after more than 1 ½ years it was time to return to our Project site in Ethiopia. No mission team has been there for over 18 months and much has changed in the local community and with the kids at the Children’s village.
The first huge change is that the extremely rough road that we used to travel on for the last 12 years has been graded and asphalted. https://youtu.be/HwmvVSYsMEw This 25 km stretch of road between the main road to Addis and our community has always been difficult to travel on and has caused much punishment to our Hilux truck. Usually we have to replace the tires 3 to 4 times a year due to severe wear, not to mention all the constant damage to every other part of the vehicle. Now we have one of the best roads in Ethiopia. It was a joy to experience the improvement which has cut down the travel time for this part of the journey significantly.
When we arrived at the Hopethiopia project site the kids were ready to greet us at the volunteer home. https://youtu.be/4_nOzRdYTSc It was a very exciting and emotional time with the kids all dressed up with signs, banners, singing, and a sense of relief that things might be returning to normal. The other obvious change was that the kids had all grown so much since the last time we had seen them!
After a time of greeting and catching up on life, we had a small welcoming party and passed along all the sponsor letters to the kids. They were all thrilled to get their individual treasures and we are very grateful to all of the sponsors that took the time to communicate.
A few important items were brought in our luggage such as soccer balls and crafts. The kids immediately went out to play soccer and had a great rest of the day. Since no mission teams have been visiting for so long the kids have not really had to use the English language much and they are looking forward to the return of teams.
Thank you for all the prayers and encouragement to the kids and house moms, they really appreciate it. And a great many thanks to all of you that have been supporting us in so many ways. It is very much appreciated. If you feel prompted to support our work financially, you can do so through CanadaHelps.orgat https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/hopethiopia/ .
Certainly things are looking very promising in the world as we get the vaccines out to the global population and the situation in Ethiopia and Rwanda is stabilizing. We are hoping to see the return of many mission teams in the future and Hopethiopia will do this in the right way.
June 20th, 2021
May 18th, 2021
I know that for many of you this will be a great relief as you have been waiting so long to return to the places that you love. The kids and staff in Ethiopia cannot wait since they have not seen anyone for about 15 months.
Many things are also getting going in both of our project locations. In Rwanda, the Women’s Trades Training Program will soon resume and the Men’s Hope Home has received new men from Iwawa island.
In Ethiopia, we will also soon be starting our Women’s Trades Training Program. There is tremendous progress at our reforestation nursery and we are getting ready for the planting time of mid-July until mid-September.
Also we will be drilling two shallow water wells for the nearby communities. These communities are desperate for water and we have committed to help them out with 60 m deep wells that will use a hand pump to draw the water. We are planning to start drilling the wells later this coming week. Please join us in prayer with our global community that the process will go smoothly, that the equipment and weather will cooperate, and that the gift of life, fresh pure drinking water, will be released to these communities. We will keep you updated with the progress of these wonderful opportunities.
As was the case with the “Faith Well”, our very first well that we drilled in September 2011, “Faith is being sure of what you hope for and being certain of what you cannot see”. (Hebrews 11:1) When we drill a well we have no idea what is actually below the ground, however, with faith we are certain about what we cannot see. This is always a great adventure of faith and expectation for so many people. So once again we ask you, our friends and partners around the world, to join us in praying for the same outcome, a successful water well.
Hopefully later this year we will also start our first water project in Rwanda. That will be an amazing blessing to our land and to the local community who is also in great need of water.
Many thanks for all the prayers and encouragement and we continue to give all the Glory to God.