Clothes, Shoes & Smiles with Hope+Sisterhood Ethiopia

“How has the Hope+Sisterhood impacted  your life?” Nancy and Debbie asked that question to each of the women who were interviewed while we were in Ethiopia. I expected to hear most women talk of the financial side of the program.  It seemed like the obvious answer.  These women had been struggling to be able to feed their children every day before they entered the program and now all of them had bank savings account books to show us. That kind of dramatic financial improvement seemed like it would have to be the first things out of these women’s mouths when asked about the program’s impact. Over and over again, their answer surprised me. All of the women talked first of the nutrition and hygiene training the program provided.  With animated faces they told us how they’ve learned that lentils and eggs are inexpensive ways to add protein to their diet and boost their CD4 counts.  Many also mentioned learning that washing vegetables with clean water before preparing a salad can also be an important part of keeping them strong and healthy. These women understood that start up capitol for a business would take their lives nowhere without the knowledge and skill to stay healthy.

To take this educational component a step farther, Debbie wanted to give the ladies a dental seminar. My dentist is a personal friend and someone with whom I have worked on past missions trips, so we decided that my sister and I would be the ones to spearhead this.  Our goal was to help the women understand that good dental hygiene could have as much impact on keeping a healthy CD4 count as the knowledge about protein they were now using daily. […]

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|

Women at the Top of a Mountain

Our next day visiting women was an absolute blast.  We visited three women who embody everything that the Sisterhood is about.  Two of the three are illiterate, two had been victims of human trafficking, all were given HIV by men who mistreated and abandoned them and all of them entered the program with the odds stacked against them.  Instead of despair, all three of these women welcomed us into well cared for homes and were excited to show us evidence of their health, happiness and successful businesses.

After a steep climb up the backside of Mt. Entoto we were welcomed into Nunu’s home by her 18 year old daughter.  Nunu was on her way back from the clinic where she had gone to get a copy of her most recent CD4 count so that we could see proof of her progress.  She entered the program with a CD4 count of 250 and now is at 356 even though she has been sick recently.

Before the program Nunu earned a small amount of money by gathering firewood at the top of the mountain and carrying it down on her back.  The program has let her become a business woman who now buys the firewood and resells it along with coal and Eucalyptus leaves.  She is making a good living that has given her the resources her to buy a bed and no longer have to sleep on the floor.  She was excited to show us her kitchen area with a large basket full of vegetables.  She pointed it out to show us the drastic improvement in her life. She said, “Never before in my life have I been able to buy and eat such quality food.”  She […]

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 […]

Ethiopia Hope+Sisterhood Needs You!



There is no Momma who dreams about her child crying from hunger.  No momma hopes that someday she will die before her children become adults.  I’ve never heard a mother whisper prayers over her children asking God to help them find their way into slavery.

No. A Momma’s heart beats out a single note for her children – life.  She wants to watch them thrive in new opportunities that come from education.  She wants to touch muscles in their shoulders strong enough to work and play. She wants to kiss them each night and assure them that they aren’t alone.

Many women raising their children in Ethiopia must feel like these dreams require a treacherous walk across a mine field.  Children living in poverty suffer long lasting effects of malnutrition.  They are often too weak to go to school and fall behind.  28% of children who die in Ethiopia die simply for a lack of adequate nutrition.  Families struggling to feed their children often decide that having another worker is better than starvation and pull their children out of school for the sake of survival.  Others let their children fall prey to human trafficking believing the fake promises about a job and a better life they are being told by the traffickers.  Young teenage girls are given in marriage to older men who offer to support them. The problems of poverty are horrifyingly magnified in women with a positive HIV diagnosis. Stigma, fear and precarious health stack the odds against these women’s families ever being able to break the chain of poverty.

Project HOPEFUL’s Hope+Sisterhood’s dream is healthy, confident Mommas who can start new lives for their families.  With a fresh start and targeted support, these women […]

Help bring clean water to Ethiopia!

UPDATE:  $1925 $1505 needed! Donate here today!
We are really excited to begin our next water project in  Ethiopia!!
This one will be in Hula Woreda.  The June 2015 team was able to visit the site recently and meet with the local government officers about the water project.

The “hole” where the water gathers.  The spring water is actually clean but as it sits in the ground, is walked through by people and animals, it becomes contaminated.
The plans will be to dig back to original water source, pipe out  and have an area fenced in with stairs leading it to it. There will also be wash basins where clothes can be washed in clean water as well instead of on the ground in dirty water.

And as God would have it, we saw 2 little guys coming down to get water.
The local water authority told us these little ones would walk 1/2 hour to get water,  4 times a day—more often if they were in the dry season.

These are the little guys you will be giving clean water to.

Around 600 people use this spring.

About 320 of those are children.


43.4M people in Ethiopia don’t have access to safe water. This is over half of the population.
Over 67 million people don’t have access to adequate sanitation in Ethiopia, almost four-fifths of the population.
Around 33,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation in Ethiopia. (statistics from

This is the chance for YOU to change that.

We still need around $2000 to complete this.
Want to #behope with clean water? Will you help us raise the remaining $2000?

 Donate here today!
Hear from a local community leader on how clean water changed the of the people in his village.


By |September 29th, 2015|Awassa, Ethiopia|0 Comments|
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    “Just call me ferenji” and “habesha” shirt pre-order!

“Just call me ferenji” and “habesha” shirt pre-order!

Preorder until Aug 22 only!
Kid shirts are $20 and adults are $25.

Just add up the amount and place it in the box and put what sizes/shirts you need in the comment section that will appear as you check out. (Make sure your address and email is correct on the info!!) This will save people from having to make multiple transactions.

All the proceeds from these shirts go to funding our Awassa directors’ trips to Ethiopia.

If you have questions on sizes, let me know. (email

PS (logo is on the side of the arm not the front)

These are fitted unisex shirts. Order your normal size.

Go to this link to order!

For those that don’t know: ferenji  means foreigner in Ethiopia and habesha means Ethiopian


Bensa Water Project Completed!

We are very excited to share that the Bensa water project is now finished!!  Hundreds of families will now have clean water thanks to your partnership!  Thank you!!

Clean water literally changes and saves lives!

If you’d like to donate to clean water in Ethiopia, click here.

Below is an interview with a village leader on the difference clean water made in his village:


It’s A Girl Thing!

Here’s the deal…in many countries girls are not as blessed like we are during their period.

Blessed. Not many of us think of that “monthly” time as being blessed.

Imagine though not having the items you use during that time. Imagine missing out of school a week each month. Imagine using what you have available—leading to infection at times. Imagine.

Their monthly supplies are not available or not affordable if they were available or way too far away to even get to for purchase. (how is that for something unusual to be thankful for? seriously? can you imagine?)

Because of this girls miss out on a week of school each month—which also can lead to them being behind. This also leads to a host of other things such as infections and worse.

Project HOPEFUL Awassa teams have been privileged to be able to take pad kits each trip and give them to the women in our programs. We still have a long way to go though to making sure they all have one.

Becca U shares her thoughts on being able to participate in giving these out on a trip:
When the team delivered reusable pad kits to the women in and around Awassa, I knew they were needed and I assumed they would be appreciated. I did not anticipate the deep level of joy that was expressed through streams of tears, beautiful smiles, and huge hugs. Giving a pad kit is giving a gift of dignity.
We are so glad that CEN-TEX Roller Girls is choosing to #behope into the lives of women and girls in Ethiopia by raising funds to purchase reusable pads. These pads will then be put into a drawstring bag with underwear and soap and given to […]

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    Enabling Independence Program in Awassa, Ethiopia! 2 new groups ready!

Enabling Independence Program in Awassa, Ethiopia! 2 new groups ready!

Exciting news!! We have a $2500 match through June 5 for any donations to our Enabling Independence Program!!

The Enabling Independence Program is one of our favorite programs.

Vulnerable women with a desire to work and support their families are given an opportunity to receive business training and form a cooperative group within their local community with other ladies. The ladies encourage one another and form strong bonds with each other. Each lady, with guidance from Ajuuja staff, determines a business based on what they would like to do coupled with their skills.

We have seen amazing and wonderful things happening with these programs.

We have watched these women celebrate with each other and take care of each other.

We have seen their lives completely transformed as hope takes root.

We have seen women with dull eyes that wouldn’t look at you become women filled with life and hope with big smiles.

We have heard them tell how their lives are changed and how they can now send their children to school.

We have seen them with such pride show their bank books with their savings account that was previously not even a dream for them.

We are excited to announce that we have 2 new groups that are trained and ready to go!

All we need is funding!  $250, one time, per woman is all it takes!

They start in groups so we need to have a group fully funded before anyone can start.  You can give any amount… and it’s great opportunity for a group of women to come together and give a business boost to woman in Awassa, Ethiopia!

You can see more about the program in this video:

Let me introduce you to the women who are ready for their lives to be […]

By |May 30th, 2015|Awassa, Ethiopia|0 Comments|