HOPE+ Sisterhood

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 nancy@projecthopeful.org and tell her to pack more bags!



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 carolyn@projecthopeful.org

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Sponsorship Opportunity with the HOPE+Sisterhood Ethiopia

Imagine being a young, uneducated mother, widowed, in Ethiopia, a third world country struggling to modernize. You now know that the illness your husband died of was AIDS, and you are HIV+. The medicine helps the illness, but what do you do to support yourself and your children? People who know of your HIV status avoid you, even your own family! How do you earn a living and help your children have enough to eat and a roof over their heads? You may decide that the best thing for the children is to take them to an orphanage and give them up for adoption. You reason that at least they will have food and shelter, something you may not be able to provide them with. It breaks your heart, but what else is there? Prostitution? Theft? Some women are reduced to those choices.

Project Hopeful is working to change that. The Hope+ Sisterhood Ethiopia is a program that reaches out to HIV+ widows and their children, and gives them hope for a better future. We want these families to stay intact. This is done by educating the ladies about their HIV status, helping them to get and remain healthy, and helping each lady to begin a small, sustainable business to support themselves. They learn from professionals the importance of correct medicine management, the nutritional needs of an HIV+ person, hygiene, sanitation, money management, and business training. They receive business counseling to help them choose a business by which they can learn to support themselves. Each lady is given a small amount of capital to begin their business. These businesses start out very small, but can grow exponentially when these ladies are given a chance. We’ve […]

It works!

I love Uganda.  I have two children from the gorgeous country and have traveled there many times.  When Dawn asked me – just 18 months ago – if we could start a Hope + Sisterhood in Uganda, it was pretty much a no brainer for me and for Project Hopeful.  We wanted to expand our programs in Uganda and this was the perfect opportunity.

Since we launched the Uganda Sisterhood, I have supported a sister and advocated for others to do so.  “I believe in this program,” I told people.  And I meant it.

This trip is the first time I have seen with my own eyes what God has done in the Uganda Sisterhood and I want to shout from the rooftops:  This program works.  It really works!!!

Perhaps that conclusion is a bit anti-climactic.  You may be left wondering why I’m so surprised and excited.  But here’s the thing:  I knew from being told that it was working and that women were rising up out of poverty, finding hope, and becoming independent.  Seeing it with your own eyes, however, is something quite different.  It is working!!!!

Women who were lost have found hope.  Women who never knew Jesus raise their hands in worship and praise to the One True God.  Women who could not afford to care for their children are parenting children who are thriving.  Women who lacked a regular income are running businesses that are thriving and successful.  Across.the.board.  All of them.  The testimonies I heard at the graduation were incredible.  Sisters are succeeding because of your short-term (12 month) “hand up.”  And so I say again, it is working.

We at Project Hopeful are praying about whether to expand our sisterhood to other countries […]

Bringing Hope Uganda: Zaina

There is so much I can say about Zaina.  This woman is amazing.  The first time I met her, ther was a distrust in her eyes.  You could see that she couldn’t possibly understand why we wanted to help her.  She was also Muslim.

Fast forward 9 months.  We are driving through Mukono town and we park on the street.  As we got out of the car, I could see the the excitement in her eyes.  As we crossed the street, she literally wrapped her arms around me and picked me up off the ground!

She was so proud to share with us all her projects.  She is selling roasted corn, roasted plantains and rearing goats.  She as so excite to tell us hat she is making a profit and is saving money.

She shared with us that she has accepted Christ and “loves Him with her whole heart”.

Then she told us about Veronica.  One day she found this precious 13 year old girl sleeping on the roof of a house.  She had been abandoned and would sleep there to keep herself safe from animals.  She proudly told us that she is her foster mom and raced in the house to show us the “official” paperwork.

We are so proud of Zaina!  From a place of despair to opening her home to an abandoned child….Gods redemption is a beautiful thing.

We want to help Zaina help Veronica so if you If would be interested in sponsoring Veronica, please email dawn@projecthopeful.org.  Sponsorship is $35 per month and covers school fees, iniforms and school supplies.

In Christ,