In an attempt at full-disclosure, I feel that I should mention that I hear The Commodores singing, “Brickhouse” ever time I think of our ‘Buy-a-Brick, Build-a-Legacy’ campaign.

2 months ago, we were pleased to report that EOR had granted $45,000 of the remaining $51,000 needed for the building project at FOVC. We asked that you help us raise the last $6000, $6 at a time. With more than 1000 facebook supporters alone, we hoped that lots of small pledges would make it easy for everyone to give. I’m happy to say that together, we’ve raised an additional $2500 in the past two months.

For those of you who have given, I’d again like to say thank you so very much. For those of you who haven’t–don’t despair, there’s still time to give. While we were hoping to raise the remaining money by July 31st, we can extend the window through August 15th, and still complete the project by the time EOR travels in November. Together, we have raised every bit of the money needed to build FOVC–the kitchen, the bathrooms, the classrooms and bedrooms–all have been built by YOU. Let’s finish what we’ve started, and raise the remaining $3500.

If we raise $3400 by August 15, I will gleefully add the last $100.00 to the total.

Thank you friends, for all that you do for the kids of Ethiopia. YOU are EOR!


World Refugee Day

During the year that we lived in San Francisco’s East Bay, I attended a number of earthquake-preparedness classes in an attempt to quell my natural disaster fears.  In the various seminars, I learned the importance of keeping a backpack of supplies in the car as well as the house, stockpiling food and water, keeping shoes and a flashlight in a bag attached to my bed, etc.  One of the workshops I attended focused on fleeing.  We were encouraged to put together a list of the things we would collect if we had an hour, or a half hour, or, in an incredibly trying situation, just 5 minutes before we needed to evacuate. We were told to make lists for travel by car, but also by foot.  I think that’s when I began to cry.  I had an 8 year old, and my baby newly arrived from Ethiopia–I couldn’t imagine being trapped in the Oakland Hills, careening my way down a steep grade with a baby in a sling and all of my possessions on my back. Forget the negatives from all of our family photos, I don’t think I could haul enough formula and diapers to keep us out of danger for more than a few days.

Our year in California ended without a single terrifying evacuation down the hillside.  But, for millions of people each year, my nightmarish, worst-case scenario is their collective reality.  Today, the United Nations marks World Refugee Day. According to their website:

This year the UN refugee agency, in its 60th year, will mark World Refugee Day with a rich and varied programme of events in locations worldwide and the launch of a new global awareness campaign. UNHCR will start rolling out the multimedia “One” campaign next week. Over the next six months it will increase awareness about the forcibly displaced and stateless by telling their powerful personal stories. The campaign will carry the message that “One Refugee Without Hope is too Many.” Every day, millions of refugees face murder, rape and terror. We believe even 1 is too many.

While Ethiopian Orphan Relief doesn’t serve the refugee, we do serve the displaced.  The orphans we serve have been forced to leave the only home they’ve known, seeking refuge, education, and relief from hunger outside of their primary communities.  Much like refugees who flee strife, these children rely on others to meet their every basic need.

Ethiopian Orphan Relief is committed to restoring hope to those who have none.  With every brick that we add to the center in Shanto, we create a home for those who are currently homeless.

Last week, we asked our 1000+ supporters to each donate $6 to finish the building project at FOVC.  5 days later, we are more than $1000 closer to our goal.  If you’ve given–thank you. If you haven’t, please consider joining us.  World Refugee Day reminds us that everyone should have a place to call home.


let it rain, rain, rain…

It seems as though the Midwest — and perhaps much of the country — has been hit with some pretty heavy rains as of late.

It’s been the topic of “small talk” around here lately (doesn’t most small talk seem to involve weather?  Or is it just me?).  Yes, I’ve found myself in conversations with strangers and acquaintances lamenting the rainy weather.  But really, the rain hasn’t really bothered me much.

Why?  Because I have a roof over my head.  Because I have (more than) adequate shelter to protect me from the elements.

I’m not saying this to be all “lecture-y” because really, I have to give my darling husband credit for this thought.  He brought it up the other day.  When I mentioned the EOR blog, he said something along the lines of, “How’s the brick project going?  Think of those children in weather like this.”  And he’s absolutely right.  While I, for one, have been spending my rainy days dry and warm inside, the orphaned children in the Shanto region of Ethiopia spend their rainy days in an “open-air” classroom (translation: no roof).

The Ethiopian “rainy season” is coming very soon.  Please think about this today … tomorrow … or the next time you look out the window and see the rain.  Please, if you can, help put a roof over their heads too!.


Photo credit: ILRI


raindrops keep fallin’ on my head

Here’s the latest update, another 140 bricks for the sweet kids at FOVC.  With these newest bricks added, we’ve donated more than 3700 bricks.  Thank YOU, friends! YOU have chosen to make a difference!

the newest bricks start with the row of white near the top

You know, on days like today, it’s easy to wish for endless hours in the sunshine.  We weren’t the only family to visit the playground at the end of preschool today.  It was beautiful–66 degrees and sunny, without a cloud in the sky.  The moms stood and chatted, idly pushing the nearest swing, and the littles were happy to play–swinging, digging, running.  Within a moment, an hour wooshed by, so we all murmured goodbyes and reluctantly left for a day of errands, or lunch and a nap.

I imagine that the orphans of FOVC feel the same delight when the sun is bright and the air is cool.  It’s fun to run and play, to feel the wind on your face, as you chase a soccer ball.  I imagine it’s less fun to be outside when the wind dumps a layer of dirt on your lunch, or snatches your math paper away.  It’s probably less appealing still, to be outside when the rains come, or the sun shines so brightly that you long for just a little shade.

My four year old was a little resentful when I told her that we’d be spending the afternoon inside rather than in the sun.  My need to work on EOR affairs seems far less exciting than a bike ride, or digging in the sand box.  At 4, she’s all about the power of NOW.  Right NOW, she’d like to be outside on a scooter, or stalking the ice cream truck; she’s too busy to think of others.  Lucky for all of us, YOU are able to think beyond NOW.  You know that while it’s sunny and springlike here (and maybe even in Shanto), very soon, the rainy season starts.  In the next few months, huge downpours will soak Ethiopia for days and days on end.  Thinking about those torrential rains and the kids who have no choice but to live in the wet and the mud, makes it easy for me to dig a little deeper, sell a few more things on craigslist, and put a few little extras back at the grocery store, so I can add to the brick fund.  I hope you can think about that near future too, when you make your own commitment to providing bricks for FOVC.

Paige (who would like you to donate right HERE)

An Investment with Immeasurable Returns

For the last several weeks, I’ve been taking classes to get my real estate license in Ohio.  So forgive me with this post  — real estate is on my brain! — but I wanted to share with you how much my classes reminded me of the great work EOR is doing with FOVC in Shanto.
Throughout my classes, we’d talk about building costs, structures, and things that make a home or structure “functionally obsolete” or “undesirable” (one example given was a house with one bathroom for five people).  And while yes, in today’s market that is true — most of us find two or more bathrooms to be much more accommodating to our families — I couldn’t help but think of the children our friends at FOVC are helping in the Shanto region of Ethiopia.
Now I’m quite new to EOR, but I do know that before EOR began helping FOVC build the children a new orphanage building, the children had NO bathroom facility.  Can you imagine?  I can’t help but think: why does my family need two or more bathrooms when these children in Shanto don’t have ONE?
Let’s become partners and “invest” in FOVC’s orphanage in Shanto.  No, it’s not the type of investment most people consider when they think about investing in real estate.  This type of investment won’t give you the opportunity for passive income.  But it IS a relatively inexpensive investment (each brick costs only 50 cents), and it WILL provide countless, immeasurable returns … if you consider our children’s futures to be a worthy return on investment.
You’ve seen the “Lego bricks” Paige has been posting on the blog.  The structure’s going up, and the children of FOVC  now have kitchen and bathroom facilities.  All thanks to gracious people like YOU!  But we CAN’T stop here.  We need to finish building this desperately needed orphanage and school for the children.  They deserve to have a roof over their heads, a place to sleep, and a place to study.  Of course, you and I both know they deserve so much more than that … but it begins with a safe, comfortable place to live, learn and grow.
Children are our most precious investment — so let’s “partner up” and invest in the children today.

The most beautiful building

Sometimes, it’s hard to make the connection between the money we raise for projects, and the people who are helped by it.   Other times, the reason behind the work that we do becomes crystal clear.
Desalegn, the director of FOVC, sent this update earlier this week.
Hello Dearest Kim,

Many greetings and love from the children of FOVC at Shanto to you and
your dear family. I am doing very well. And I hope everything is going
very well to you all there.

Thank you so, so much for what you are doing for FOVC and its
beautiful children. The children of FOVC, the staff and the people of
Shanto are very much thrilled to meet you and your beloved husband in
November. You and your organization bring many hope to Shanto and its

I am sure you will be pleased with the changes, which the money EOR
has sent, made in Shanto. Before your support we did not have toilet
facility. But we have it now. We did not have kitchen, but we have it
now. The most beautiful building with many facilities is under
construction for the children who came from dusty streets in Shanto.
These all are due to your hard working. I thank you once again for
everything which you are doing for FOVC!!!

With much regards,

Here is a note from his blog:

With many thanks to EOR, FOVC has provided 114 chickens and roasters to the 57 children in order to help the children grow their own asset for future purpose. Culturally, the child who has parents is usually given small chickens and he should grow up the chickens for his future assets. If a child is provided with chickens he/she will grow the chicken to big and the off springs will be sold to buy small sheep or small goat. Then the goat will give birth to off springs and those off springs also will be sold to buy cow/oxen. That helps the child as his/her own asset in the future. Knowing that great cultural value we have provided to all FOVC children both male and female chickens. And our staff members are following up the well being of the chickens. We are also preparing the ground to raise the chickens in the FOVC compound to use the eggs and roasters for meals to children.
You are helping to complete the big building that is currently under construction.  The bricks you buy really do make a significant and instant impact for the children of FOVC.
With the addition of 250 blocks given to Tesfa for his birthday yesterday, we can fund almost 3600 bricks for FOVC.  This is a really fine number, and yet, I know we can add more!  Most of these bricks have been birthday gifts to me, to Noah, or to Tesfa.  If you haven’t given, now’s your chance.  Bar Mitzvah gift, loose change, single donation for $50,000~~EOR can use it all.  Please consider adding to my lovely LEGO wall, and more importantly, to the real walls that will shelter real kids in Ethiopia.


now see what you did…

Sorry there was no brick campaign update yesterday, but with another 800+ blocks to add, the construction crew needed more time to build sort through piles of LEGO for suitable pieces.  That’s right–you have purchased more than 3300 bricks for the children of FOVC!!!

We are so honored to work with each and every one of you. YOU are EOR!!!


While the wall grow rapidly, FOVC needs many more bricks to complete construction.

I want to provide bricks for FOVC!

Paige (who can’t wait to build some more!)

donate the day you were born

I love what EOR does for the children of Ethiopia. I wish that I could give more, but my husband and I are on a tight budget. Luckily I have found an easy way to be able to give even without a huge bank account.   Donating my birthday (through Facebook Causes) has been a huge success.  I’ve donated my birthday for two years.

Instead of another sweater or gift card,  I ask friends and family to contribute what they can to EOR. This year, with their help, we raised over $600 to build a mini library at Children’s Heaven.  I can attest to how badly this library was needed.  When my husband and I visited Children’s Heaven this summer, Hanna Fanta, the director, showed us the library.  It was a small room with a few tables and unfortunately, there were more chairs in the room than there were books to read. That is NO longer the case. While there is still more work to be done in the library, it is off to a great start thanks to the generosity of my friends and family.

My son is quite the philanthropist as well. His first birthday celebration is tomorrow. He has requested (yep, on his own, because he is a baby genius!)  that in lieu of gifts,  people make a contribution to EOR for the ‘Buy a Brick-Build a Legacy’ Campaign. What little boy doesn’t love blocks and bricks?

If you really want your birthday to count for something, why not donate it via Facebook and build your own legacy too?




super short update

Here’s today’s update–another 50 bricks for the kids of FOVC.  They’re the black row, added to the top of the wall–stupendous!

With all that we’ve added, we still have miles to go.  Please consider making your own brick donation, large or small on behalf of the many children at FOVC who spend their entire day outdoors.  No matter the weather, these kids eat, learn and play outside.  You can help build them a safe, warm center with your gift.

I want to provide bricks for FOVC!