I am new to the EOR board. I worked as a volunteer for our Lights of Hope auction and many other activities in Portland for a couple years. Now I am on the board, and I have 10,000 emails to prove it.
I thought I had a handle on all that is involved with EOR. I was wrong. As you can imagine, running a nonprofit, whether big or small, is an incredible amount of work. The side of the nonprofit that you see most, the side I knew, is the fundraising. The flip side and the responsibility on our end is guaranteeing every dollar raised goes to making lives better. Accountability. The dollars need to go to making lives sustainable beyond shelter or a meal. EOR must affect lives by making individuals reach beyond their immediate hunger, enabling them to dream of something better. Giving a chicken, a goat, a sewing machine, give the gift of learning to feed yourself and those around you. The ripple effect.
Of all the groups EOR supports, one of my favorites is Children’s Heaven. To me, Children’s Heaven embodies how western nonprofits, specifically EOR, can make a difference, on a daily basis, to hundreds of lives in Ethiopia. For a good partnership to exist, the solutions need to fit within the Ethiopian framework of society, rather than Western solutions to East African problems. Children’s Heaven is a day center for girls at risk of being homeless and orphaned. The preteen and teenage girls that go to Children’s Heaven have all had one or both parents die of AIDS. Children’s Heaven is run by their Ethiopian director, Hanna, She runs a tight ship in order to keep her girls safe in their extended family’s home and in school. In turn she also gives them an outstanding role model. Last year, our appeal at the Lights of Hope Auction was to provide one meal a day to the girls at Children’s Heaven. One meal a day. We raised enough money to fund this goal for 500+ days. By November the effect of that appeal hit home. Thanksgiving letters were sent to EOR from the girls that have benefitted from those meals.
Hanni Sala, age 13
“When there is no food for breakfast, I stay home from school for if I go I will feel sleepy in the classroom and come back without learning. It has made a difference in my living for now I am eating my lunch at Children’s Heaven, my lunch at home will be for my dinner. I used to have a stomach problem which I do not have now. At school, I am able to follow my school for I no longer worry about food. “
Meskerem Mengistu, age 16
“…At school, I used to worry about whether I will eat when I go back home. Now, I am able to follow my education without worrying about food. Sometimes I take my packed lunch home and share it. It has brought a great change in our life.”
1 meal + 1 safe place to be during the day= education
The young women Hanna brings together on a daily basis have dreams of being doctors, teachers, nurses, accountants, lawyers. One meal a day from the donors of EOR have enabled these young people to think beyond their immediate need of hunger to the ‘luxury’ of forming dreams of their professions. When these young people reach their goals, they will be able to care for their extended families, sustain their families and in turn be role models for all of the young women around them. The ripple effect.
Now that I am on the EOR board I have seen what paperwork and accounting the groups that receive funds, provide to us on a quarterly basis. Hanna at Children’s Heaven shows proof of every dollar she spends from our funds. The funds that you, the donors, have given. It is a huge responsibility for us at EOR to be given the gift of your trust, your own dreams and your dollars. We take that seriously and make sure it goes to programs that have in turned earned our trust.
The Lights of Hope Auction in Portland is just a month away. We will again have a special appeal and ask for funds for specifically one project. Last year we guaranteed 100 girls a meal a day for 500 days. With one meal, we gave them dreams. What will your donation do this year?
I want to personally let you know that everyone involved with Ethiopian Orphan Relief appreciates what you, the donor, does for us which in turn does for so many in Ethiopia. The effect and the appreciation from those in Ethiopia is tenfold. Its the ripple effect.
Yours in emails,