A Tale of Two Meskerems (Hope+Sisterhood Ethiopia)

It’s not surprising that our next Sister’s story is about another woman named Meskerem. It is a common name given to baby girls because it is the Amharic name for the month of September when Ethiopian New Year is celebrated. How fitting that two of our Sisters share a name that celebrates new beginnings

When I met Meskerem six months ago, I had to double check her profile to make sure that I was remembering her story correctly. Despite having one of the hardest young lives imaginable, the woman in front of me exuded joy so thickly you could almost feel it. She owned a successful roadside vegetable stand that was a source of deep pride with beautiful, neatly displayed produce. Both of her sons are strong and healthy and doing very well in school. This woman glows with beautiful confidence.

Meskerem was born into a very poor household in the capitol city of Addis Ababa. Her large family could only afford to send her to school through the 4th grade and after that she began to work. When she was fifteen years old a man that she knew professed his love for her and convinced her to go away with him. Instead of finding love, she was trapped in abuse. He locked her in a room for a month where she was raped and abused and became pregnant. She was able to escape from her kidnapper and find her way back home. Her kidnapper is now in prison for what he did to her. Instead of finding relief when she reached home, she was turned away because of her pregnancy. She worked alone as a day laborer and gave birth to her son when she […]

Hope Dealers (Hope+ Sisterhood Ethiopia)

We walked to a Sister’s house. We hugged her and took the grand tour of her brand new business. We fawned over pictures of the children, perused school report cards in a language foreign to our own and cheered over savings account totals. We smiled into the faces flushed with hope and confidence and dispensed gifts.

We waved our farewells as we took a few turns through the roads to another Sister’s house. We hugged and toured. We fawned and perused. We smiled as we waved goodbye.

Different faces, different houses and a different walk to get there but the same story happened again and again and again, last November. We encountered strong, healthy women who felt like they had a future.

The women would see us coming and run to meet Nancy and Debbie, flying into their arms. About the third day into our trip, Nancy finally spoke it out loud.
“I feel like a hope dealer.”
She said.
“Hope is the best high there is.”

The Hope+Sisterhood was born in 2010 through a friendship formed in Ethiopia years earlier. Nancy spent a long summer in Ethiopia untangling complicated adoption issues so she could bring her daughter home. While there, she met Project Hopeful founder Carolyn Twietmeyer (read her story here) who was also in the process of a complicated adoption. They quickly found they were kindred spirits who’s friendship lasted long beyond their time in Ethiopia.

Both women came back to the US feeling the need to do something to help preserve families and prevent more orphans in the HIV crisis of Ethiopia. Carolyn’s vision became Project Hopeful and before long, PH’s first out of country project was born.  Ethiopia’s Hope+Sisterhood, headed by Nancy, began as the idea of one sister helping […]

Sisterhood Suitcase Sponsors Needed!

Nancy and Debbie are preparing to set foot in Ethiopia this month and they need our help. They need suitcase fee sponsors to help them carry blessings to Ethiopia with them.

They will carry sneakers, clothes, vitamins, toothbrushes, backpacks, school supplies and all kinds of other supplies that they will use to benefit the Sisters. The supplies are ready and waiting to be packed in suitcases, but need suitcase sponsors to pay the baggage fees to get them there.

Each of the current Sisters will be visited by Nancy and Debbie to give an update about their fledgling businesses and new living conditions. It feels like Christmas Day to watch the ladies open up their gifts with the warm flush of new accomplishment still on their cheeks.


A very special day of the trip will be the clothing and shoe distribution. All the families will gather together and will leave with the bounty that was delivered by Nancy and Debbie’s suitcases. A fresh outfit and sturdy pair of shoes can be just the boost needed at this point in the program for our precious, hard-working women.

And if we are lucky, we will get some more pictures of Nancy and Addisu’s modeling as the trip reports come in!

Nancy and Debbie are leaving soon and have plenty of supplies they can take if the bags are paid for. Each extra suitcase incurs an extra $200 fee. Consider sponsoring a suitcase to bless these hardworking sisters in Ethiopia!

Donating is easy. Click here to send your donation and then email and tell her to pack more bags!



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 […]

Sheep and Suitcases to Ring in 2016

This is the week that we all trade our dreams of sugar plums for dreams of new and improved selves. Resolutions are slowly forming out of the fog of our wishes and hopes. We determine that our 2016 self will be healthier, kinder and more generous. We hope that with the resolution will come an iron will to be brave enough to actually lace up the sneakers, say the words or sign on the dotted line.

As our minds drift over the possibilities of new endeavors for 2016 many of us wish that we could be a part of big changes in the world. We’ve seen the news footage of vulnerable people around the world struggling with hunger and poverty. We’ve read facebook posts about women and children being trafficked and wish we had the means to make it stop. We feel uncomfortable with the volume of our blessings juxtaposed with the world’s needs but feel helpless to apply what we have to offer in a way that will actually make a difference.

Here is your New Year’s Resolution Solution – Project Hopeful’s Ethiopia Gift Catalog! The gift of a sheep or a suitcase can turn your end of the year gift into a successful New Year’s Resolution and allow you to be a part of making the world a better place.

There are 10 women in Addis Ababa who have just been accepted into the Hope+Sisterhood program. They are beginning a journey that will change their lives, their children’s lives and generations of their family to come. The change will multiply, one family at a time throughout the country. Look through these pictures, they are the faces of women who are right now, today, trying to […]

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|