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Support our Enabling Independence women in Awassa, Ethiopia!

Project Hopeful Awassa’s ultimate goal is to come to the aid of vulnerable women and children and if possible restore families and help them reach financial stability and independence.

While sponsorship is a beautiful program and can form lifelong relationships we believe that God intended for families to provide for themselves so, when possible, we strive to empower widows and family caretakers to achieve independence and then graduate from our Family In the Gap program.

In some cases rather than sponsorship we are able to provide training and seed money for ladies to start businesses which enables them to be financially stable enough to support their families with no outside assistance. Not only do the ladies gain the ability to feed and clothe their children and ensure their education they also receive restored dignity.

One of the best things we get to experience on our trips is to spend some time with the business ladies who have started their businesses through the efforts of our partners at Ajuuja and funded by the generous PHA donors. We hear story after story form the ladies about how their lives have changed for the better.

They say things like –

“I was idle and could not provide for my family but now I can and my children are in school!”

“I was just at home with no income but now I have a business.”

The ladies are always excited to meet us and tell us about their businesses and what they are making and selling. Each chooses something they’d like to and then they take off. They sell eggs, injera, coffee, tea, bread, flour, butter, chickens and so on.

Yichal make blankets basket covers and other knitted cloth items. Her craftsmanship is amazing.

Metasebia started out […]

Now I am human

From Greg, our Project HOPEFUL Awassa Director:

I’m always amazed at the stories we hear from families in the FIG sponsorship program.

One of the things we’ve heard several times which you can never be fully prepared for is “NOW I AM HUMAN.”

One story that stays with me is from a mother that said her life before was so difficult and she was so low that no one saw her or even regarded her as human.

She had no food, no home, NO HOPE. Each day she would do what she could to find food for her children and would end the day under a makeshift shelter she would make from enset leaves. The only thing between her family and the weather and hyenas was a shelter of leaves.

After one of her children was added to the FIG Sponsorship program things began to turn around. Today she has found HOPE! She has a home to live in with her family, her children are in school, her family has food and now she says “I AM HUMAN”!

We hear from caretakers (who could be a Mom, Dad, Uncle, Aunt, grandparent, older sibling or even neighbors) proudly say things like:

– now they are in school and learning

– now I have food for my children

– now we have animals

– now we have a home

and so on.

We seldom hear requests for anything from the families but when we do it is almost always from families not yet connected with a sponsor.

They ask “when will I have a sponsor, when will I get letters and photos like the others?” They understand that the FIG program is more than a sponsorship program – it’s a Family In the Gap for them! While the funds […]


From our Project HOPEFUL Awassa Director-Greg:

As we wound down the day we had just a few visits and it was our last day.

Throughout the week we saw many needs and we were able to meet many of them but still had funds left; one of our team members was overfunded for his trip and we had the funds on hand to use at his discretion. We still had a good amount left and were thinking about what to do with that money before we departed.

We arrived at one of the areas to meet a young man whom another of our team members sponsors. As we waited for the program administrator to arrive we interacted with some local children and enjoyed the morning.

I noticed a small run-down hut nearby and a lady emerged doing her morning chores and the things she needed to do to care for her family. I approached her and spoke using some of the few Sidamic words I’ve learned to greet her and speak God’s blessings over her. She returned a greeting and kind smile and went about her business. It became obvious that the person we were waiting for would be late but our  sponsored teen arrived so we made the most of the time and talked with him and his brother that accompanied him.

As we waited, I asked one of the Ajuuja staff members that was with us if it would be appropriate to visit the nearby home while we waited. He agreed to ask and see if she would welcome us in or not. She said we were welcome to visit but asked that we wait until she got the cows out. She then proceeded to escort the […]

Help us give clean water!

Help us give the gift of clean water!

Imagine being a trained medical professional doing all that you can to help patients get healthy and stay healthy only to e thwarted by something that we here take for granted.

Clean Water.

During the October visit to Awassa we ventured out to a remote village called Burra to meet the people who live there and to look at the future site of the next PHA water project.

Upon arriving the leadership that met us were insistent that instead of visiting that site we follow them to another spot. After some discussion between them and Ajuuja staff we followed them to a nearby building and were joined by dozens of adults and lots of curious children.

One of the leaders explained to us that the building was a health clinic whose primary purpose for maternity care.

Two young men in lab coats stood nearby listening while the leader went to to tell us that the clinic had no access to clean water or any purification system. He continued and described the frustration of the clinic’s team who were trained to care for others but that lacked that one simple thing.

They told us of waterborne illness and heart wrenching stories of great loss due to that.

The leadership of the area understands the importance of clean water, especially in a health care facility, and asked that, if we intended to help with water, that it be there instead of the community site.

Imagine that choice.

The gravity of that choice is overwhelming.

So Project Hopeful Awassa has committed to both! We need your help!

The community water project will give clean water to around 3400 people. Over three thousand people whose lives can be great impacted.

Just a […]

By |February 29th, 2016|Awassa, Ethiopia, FIG Awassa|0 Comments|

Clean Water, The Wait is OVER!!

written by Greg, Project HOPEFUL Awassa Director

Water. The year was 1965.

I had just turned two years old. Charisa wouldn’t be born for another 8 years.

After relentless work by Dr. Martin Luther King and others in the Civil Rights movement President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law which ensured that African Americans could exercise their right to vote in all states.

The US escalated involvement in the Vietnam War commiting 150,000 troops and Operation Rolling Thunder is launched.

The Ford Motor Company entered it’s first full year of production of the Mustang.

The Beatles began their their second tour in the USA.

Haile Selassie was in his 35th year as Emperor of Ethiopia.

A small community called Hache in Bensa, Sidama, Ethiopia  became aware of the need for fresh clean water that would allow them to escape the ill effects of water borne bacteria and parasites.

In the 50 years since then so much has happened.

Haile was deposed by the military ushering in a socialist republic and the Red Terror that led to the killing or disappearnce of 100,000 people.

From the late 1970s through the 1980s famine and drought plagued Ethiopia’s northern regions leading to the relocation of 600,000 people to the south and the loss of an estimated one million people to starvation.

All the while the people in Hache were still in need of a fresh water supply.

A year ago Pastor Rob Spencer and I made the trek to visit the area and the site where the local families came to gather water. There was a well worn path through enset gardens and thick vegetation filled with the curious eyes of children watching as we made our way to the low lying area where water gathered. There were […]

By |January 23rd, 2016|Awassa, Ethiopia, FIG Awassa|0 Comments|

Thank you for being HOPE in 2015!

The friends and supporters of Project HOPEFUL did a fantastic job of giving hope in the year 2015!

A big thank you to all of you!!!

None of this would be possible without you, our partner staffs in country, our faithful volunteers at Project HOPEFUL and God–the one we do it all for!
A quick look back at some of our programs in 2015!

Walk on Water Initiative, Guatemala
2016 has been an exciting year of relationship and growth at Walk on Water Initiative, Guatemala!  Our assistant directors on the ground,  Dr. Jaco and Sandy gave birth to their first child!  Evan has been a beautiful and symbolic addition to our ministry family!
We continue to host and lead medical and dental teams as we meet the most necessary and basic health needs of the beautiful Guatemalan people.  Dr. Jaco continues to search out the most needy communities and unreached people to care for throughout the year, including various orphanages, care centers and the forgotten migrant coffee harvesters.  His kind and gentle ways make him a magnet for the hurting.  His heart is to build meaningful relationships in the most desperate of places and to utilize our generous teams to love on and treat these precious children and families. Sandy is the glue and the “hostess with the mostest”.
We will be adding more trip dates this year, we would LOVE to have you join us.   We expect this year to bring more growth and possibility to being His hands and feet in Central America.
To learn more about our our Guatemala initiative email

Special Needs Advocacy

We were excited to bring Ashley Rippke on staff as our Special Needs Advocate!  Ashley has contacted trusted people and has a group of over 30 […]

Beans, coffee & stethoscopes

News from our Guatemala Assistant Directors:

Months before we even got the confirmation from our team leader with specific dates to come down to Guatemala, Sandy and I had felt a nudge to work with the coffee cutters in the Antigua area. A group of workers known to be amongst the poorest and in most need of the manual laborers in this area.

If you are a coffee connoisseur or really enjoy a good cup o’joe in the morning, you have probably heard of Guatemalan coffee, the coffee grown in Antigua Guatemala is among the most popular of the country. The process for production and processing of coffee is very elaborate, but I won’t go much into detail of the whole process, one of the first steps is the picking of the coffee cherries; generally in Guatemala the process is selectively picking by hand in which only the cherries at the peak of their ripeness are harvested, the laborers who pick coffee by hand receive payment either by the basketful or the total amount collected for a day’s work.

Most of these laborers are brought from all over the country, when the local farmers are not able to keep up with the production; needless to say that most of these people get the short end of the stick of the whole coffee commodity business. Most coffee farms hire entire families (including small children) to come for months to harvest the coffee cherries, then most of the time all of the workers are accommodated in a big warehouse type building. As you can imagine more than a hundred people in close quarters can cause a lot of health issues. When I worked with the Ministry of Public Health, […]

By |December 28th, 2015|Guatemala, Walk on Water|0 Comments|

Holidays and Adoptive Families

The holidays.  To some they are a time of celebration, family and fun.  To others they are a time of sadness and a reminder of what has been lost.  Even in the best circumstances, emotions can run high and personalities clash.

Adoptive families have an added challenge to this.  We are parenting children and teens with great loss. Trauma doesn’t respect holidays and in fact the holidays can bring many feelings and losses right to the forefront.

For those that have recently adopted, cocooning is in full swing possibly and sweet Aunt Susie may not understand why she can’t hold or feed that darling baby just like she did with the others.  It can be awkward telling her she can’t hold your baby or your two year old right now and explaining why.  Family may not understand why it’s not healthy for your affectionate 6 yr old little girl to be hopping from lap to lap and hugging and kissing everyone along with the way.  Family members may not have ever even heard of indiscriminate affection or RAD and how it manifests. But we have and may know more about it than we ever planned.

Dear family—It’s not that we don’t want your support and help. We do. Desperately. Our emotions may be running high themselves. We may be tired. Mentally exhausted. Drained. We need your love and support to parent our children the way we know best. It may look different than how you parent or even different than how we parented some of our other children—because children from hard places need different parenting.

We asked some adoptive parents what they wished you knew. Below are their candid responses.
My kids can easily get over stimulated by all the “stuff.” It can be […]

Vision and Need at Ajuuja Orphanage

Greg continues to share about the Nov trip with Project HOPEFUL Awassa

Ajuuja is the word that was stuck in our hearts 3 and a half years ago and is now forever part of who we are.

In the Sidama language it means vision and is it’s the name of the place we have come to love so much and that have become a part of our family. When we began we thought our call was to try to assist the staff at Ajuuja Children’s Home with resources for the 13 children that were living there.

We quickly discovered that Ajuuja was staffed with very special people who did more than show up and tend to daily duties at an orphanage and it was also evident God had a bigger plan than we thought. We found a group of very talented people who truly loved the children in their care and who served those children sacrificially.

Beyond that they were involved in the surrounding communities providing support to the most vulnerable and overlooked people.

It is like coming home when we arrive at Ajuuja and are greeted by the staff with laughter, hugs and excitement. There is no pretense or tension just peace.

On this particular trip the team was able to spend some unplanned time at Ajuuja. We sat in a common area with the nannies, nurses and children while time passed slowly. We played with the children and were served coffee and kolo in relaxed atmosphere at a slow pace. It was like being with family. The nannies watched the kids and corrected them if necessary, they played with the children, blew bubbles, laughed, acted silly and shared life. The sense of community was strong and we felt […]

By |November 16th, 2015|Awassa, Ethiopia, FIG Awassa|0 Comments|

Privileged to Serve

Greg continues to share about the trip.

We set out for Aleta Chuko Wednesday morning loaded down with bags full of donated shoes and letters from FIG families to their sponsored child.  I was able to meet with each family (more pictures and details to come to each of their FIG family sponsor soon!)

We then had a time of earnest prayer and though the languages were different– the Spirit was the same.

Then we had some training. After learning of a condition called “mossy foot” that had stricken several in the area, Charisa did some research and made contact with health care professionals who had knowledge of and experience with the disease. Mossy foot is a form of elephantiasis that manifests itself on the skin with a rough mossy like texture and swelling of the affected area. It comes from small shards of silicates found in volcanic soil that work their way into the skin. As the condition progresses the swelling becomes worse and causes much pain and begins to give off an offensive odor. One of our sponsored girls had the condition which had progressed to the point that she could no longer wear shoes and was so ashamed (she was teased by the other kids) and had such discomfort that she had stopped attending school.

I had the task of discussing the condition with the group to explain what it was, what causes it, how to treat it and most importantly that it was not because of anything they had done wrong nor was it the result of any curse. The treatment is quite simple and inexpensive and we had made plans to equip each affected family with the supplies necessary to treat it.

The other […]

By |November 10th, 2015|Awassa, Ethiopia, FIG Awassa|0 Comments|

Project HOPEFUL, talks, and goats!

Greg (Awassa Director)  writes about one of the days of the October trip— More to come soon!

As we arrived in Hawasssa Zuria many of the area’s FIG sponsored awaited us and greeted us with warm smiles, hugs and great excitement!  We exchanged hugs, handshakes and greetings and talked  for a few minutes while the rest of the group trickled into the room.

Fekadu then spoke to the group delivering his testimony and life story as the group anxiously listened. He spoke in Amharic so we didn’t understand all that he said but it was evident he was making a connection as he explained that he too was sponsored as a child and that there was HOPE!

The group was fully engaged and listened as he told his story of overcoming difficult circumstances which were much like their own. His passion and love for the group needed no translation for us to understand.

Coach Frank then presented the group with t-shirts and most of the group headed outside with the rest of the team to play some soccer.

I remained back and began to spend a few minutes with each sponsored child and their caretaker. We talked about how they were doing and how the FIG sponsorship program has changed their lives. It’s always a treat and of course a privilege to listen and make notes while hearing mothers and children thank and praise God for Family In the Gap sponsors who sacrifice for people that they do not know personally yet give anyway.

I stay at the edge of tears as I listen while mothers and caretakers speak of the changes they have experienced.

Things like:

“I am in school”

“We have food”

“I have animals now”

“Thank God for you”


After spending […]

By |November 9th, 2015|Awassa, Ethiopia, FIG Awassa|0 Comments|

HOPE+ Sisterhood Stories!

Each morning after breakfast, we set off with our trusted driver, Danny, to the neighborhood of the sisters who are expecting us.  We visited four sisters today who all live near to each other and seem to have developed a special bond since being in the program together.  Four sisters stories might take a while, so grab a cup of buna and come on back!

Our morning started at the home of Melkamnesh.  Instead of the normal routine of the Ethiopian sister answering questions asked to her by the Project Hopeful staff, this visit felt like we had walked into a prepared report.  Melkanmnesh was ready for us and excited to tell us many things.  She is now living with her parents in a multi-room home and is running her own business that allows her to help support her parents – but just a short while ago things were very different.

Her family is large and poor. Her parents arranged a marriage for her when she was a young teenager as a way to keep her fed.  When she became pregnant she also found out that she had contracted the HIV virus.  She felt that her life was at an end because of the virus. Her baby was born. Her marriage ended. She remarried as a way to pool resources and survive but then when she was pregnant she was abandoned again.  Her second son was born early because she was so sick and had to stay in the hospital for two months.  She tried to support her two sons by selling vegetables by the roadside and then weaving cloth for an employer but describes their existence as hand to mouth which gave her no hope for […]