Praise Report: 142,560 Nutritious Meals

Dan and Wendy Allaman, founders of Kids Against Hunger – Monmouth, have had a strong desire to do more for the children of Ethiopia since their first visit in 2010.
For this purpose, they started their own Kids Against Hunger satellite and began packaging meals. It was soon discovered that until BCI was established as a local NGO in Ethiopia – a process that was begun several months beforehand – it would be impossible to get a container of meals cleared through customs.

In October of 2012, BCI received its local NGO license and a few months later preparations began for the food container destined for the BCI ministry in Debre Zeyit. In May of 2013, the container was packed and ready to go.

Some of you may remember the article in the May issue of the BCI Post about this opportunity. You can also find the article on our blog, here:

https://blessingthechildren.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/142560-nutritious-meals/

After five months of fund-raising for shipping costs, organizing, phone calls, emails,  international communication and paperwork, Kids Against Hunger – Monmouth (KAHM) and Blessing the Children (BCI)  felt prepared to send the shipment!

Generally, sending food containers to other countries is simple but this is not the case with Ethiopia. Much paperwork and documenting is required and if it is not all provided, the container can be held in the storage unit, collecting storage fees. Very few have attempted to send food containers to Ethiopia, and even fewer have been successful in getting a food container to clear customs.

Prior to sending this container with Blessing the Children, KAHM sent a container to Zambia and another to Haiti. Dan commented, “I don’t know why it is so difficult to do good things in Ethiopia. When we shipped to Zambia we didn’t have to jump through any hoops, just sent the containers and they arrived ok.”

With this container finally on its way to Ethiopia, we praise God for this amazing opportunity and ask you all for your prayers that we will be successful in this venture. The benefit of accomplishing this will be amazing!

Four of ten pallets ready to be loaded.

Four of ten pallets ready to be loaded.

Dan helping load the pallets.

Dan helping load the pallets.

More loading...

More loading…

All loaded up and ready to go!

All loaded up and ready to go!

Dan signing the necessary paperwork.

Dan signing the necessary paperwork.

And it's on its way!

And it’s on its way!

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“This is it. Right now, I am living my dream.”

Story by Marianne H. from The Netherlands

It is late at night as I write this. I should have been asleep a while ago but my mind refuses to rest. The last several months of my life have been like a roller-coaster of happenings; feelings, thoughts, experiences, opportunities to learn, adventures and impressions.

About two months ago I was standing at the airport in Addis Ababa as I gave my Ethiopian family one last hug. No one likes goodbyes but this one was unexplainable. For almost a year, I had the privilege to work in the country that is guilty of stealing my heart. And all too quickly, that year flew by and the time came to go home and leave it all behind. It was scary because I was letting go of everything I had known for the last year. I didn’t know what I was going home to, what kind of life would I find back home and how would everything be after such a long time. No house, no job, nothing. Let me take you through a small portion of my big journey.

This story is about how I lived my dream and I hope it encourage you to take the step to your own dream.

The reason I came to Ethiopia is a very long story so l will shorten it. When I was a little girl, 6 years old, my parents involved me in their ministry in East Europe. At that time, there was a lot of poverty there. One day they took me to an orphanage for disabled children, where I handed out some of my own toys to the kids. I will never forget that moment even though it was 18 years ago. I can still see those poor, abandoned children who were neglected by their parents due to the shame of having a disabled child. Their sad faces and underdeveloped bodies were tight in car seats or on beds. It made a huge impression on me, the injustice of their situation. Their innocence in it all. It never left me.

Marianne with Meheret - a disabled child in the BCI Program.

Marianne with Meheret – a disabled child in the BCI Program.

When I was a teenager I did several short term mission trips in summer. I started to feel God’s calling for me to contribute something into poor people’s lives, to increase their standard of living. When I was in College I followed a minor in Development Corporation, did an International course and graduated in Social Work by doing research in South Africa. I started working, but God kept telling me He had something else for me. Then God gave me a vision and the main thing I took away from that vision was to ‘color lives with hope’.

Years ago someone told me to get myself more color. It took me a while to understand this. I didn’t show a lot of myself to other people, I didn’t shine. I was insecure and hiding myself. Nelson Mandela once said: “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  By getting yourself colors, by shining and using your talents and personality, you can bring colors in someone else’s life!

Once I understood this, I wanted to contribute. I wanted to give children the chance to develop and get out of the circle of poverty. I wanted to bring colors in their lives, I wanted to bring hope and dreams. During my stay in Debre Zeyit, I watched this movie called live58, about poverty. A boy in the movie who was interviewed said that he didn’t have dreams. He said it is better that I do not have dreams, because they will never come true anyways. This makes my heart cry. It is not fair. I have all the chances in the world yet so many children have zero chances.

I came to Ethiopia as a Social Work intern which means I would work with the social workers full time. But God had more, beautiful things planned for me. An art teacher was needed at the BCI Academy. I always said I wouldn’t teach. But during my thesis I did research about school drop outs and became interested in education. Talk about how God plans our lives and prepares us for every single thing!

“Well, since I like kids,” I thought “I’ll just try it.” From the day I started, I loved it and I never stopped. Of course, it was challenging. To be honest, there were days that I came back home, went to my room, cried and asked God why He didn’t make chances in the lives of these children. I was never a teacher before. I had no training or experience and at the beginning, I didn’t know their language. There were some large classes and their behavior was really challenging. Back home I used to work with kids that had behavior issues but this was harder for me, a whole new level of challenging. Even though it wasn’t easy, I loved it. God gave me big love for these kids.

Marianne with one of her classes at the BCI Academy.

Marianne with one of her classes at the BCI Academy.

I was able to watch my children grown for a whole school year. To build relationships with them, have lots of fun with them, challenge them to be creative, to think outside the box, teach them social skills through my classes, see their self-esteem growing. And most important, I was able to help them to just be children, to dream and to have hope.  When I was teaching, it was so precious to see my kid’s faces during class when they created something and were proud of their accomplishment. I would almost forget that after school some of the children would go back to their mud huts and sleep on the floor with an empty stomach. I hope it also helped them to forget. I cherish the moments that we had fun and did crazy things. These children stole my heart. Not just a piece, but the whole thing!

My big, life changing journey was intense and challenging, but amazing! I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for me! I want to challenge you to take the steps you need to take, to follow your dream but more important, to be obedient to God. Sometimes while in Ethiopia, I found myself thinking: “This is it, right now, I am living my dream.” I made myself a promise. I will not to live my life for myself, not let my life be a grind and live for work, money and a big house. It is worth it to take risks and to overcome challenges, so you can shine and let others shine. Our world needs people to color it and to bring hope!

Art class student.

Art class student.

When God puts something in our heart, when God gives us a dream, He never said it would be easy. Let me share one last thing. Through it all, God has been so unbelievably faithful to me. He has taught me how to trust Him more, how to be patient and listen to Him. I can tell you how amazing it all was but really, there were times I felt like driving to Addis Ababa and taking the first flight home. And at those moments I really wanted to do that! It is not always easy to live in another country, far from your loved ones, working with people from a different culture, having no power or water for days, having no privacy, encountering lots of challenges in simple, daily things.  But whenever it was tough, God took care of me. He picked me up and as Psalm 40 says, He set me back on a rock and put a new song in my mouth.  He showed me that when He asks something of us, He will provide and take care of us. So there is no excuse for us to hold back and not to obey God. Get yourself a color. Take a risk, set a step, shine and make someone’s life more hopeful.

Marianne building a human pyramid with her students.

Marianne building a human pyramid with her students.

 

Marianne playing around with one of her students.

Marianne playing around with one of her students.

 

Marianne with her students.

Marianne with her students.

 

One of Marianne's classes.

One of Marianne’s classes.

 

 

 

Self-Sustainability

Recently I saw an interview on a late night show here in Ethiopia. What intrigued me was not the usually humorous nature of the show, rather one of its guests. Bethlehem Alemu is the dynamic founder and owner of SoleRebels, a game-changing shoe company in the heart of Addis Ababa, the ancient capital of Ethiopia. Due to her success and ingenuity, “Fortune” magazine has placed her on top of its cover. She has also been featured by CNN and the BCC, in addition Forbes has named her one of Africa’s Most Successful Women.

Amazingly, the source of Bethelehem’s success is not gold or oil rather it is her imagination and creativity to turn old tires into designer shoes and sell them all over the world.  For most of us an old tire is nothing of value, something to be thrown away. But for this creative lady and her company it is a treasure; a multi-million dollar treasure that has changed the lives of many.

Bethelehem’s success is a classic example of innovation at its best. It can be an example for many Ethiopians and it is an important raw model in a country where resources are scarce and joblessness looms. This can also be an example for BCI’s push toward self-sustainability for its families. That is why, in a clear understanding of empowering families, some BCI missionaries have recently held an event that has illustrated what can be done with simple resources such as pieces of paper.

Deanne conducting training.

Deanne conducting training.

The events main theme was to empower BCI women in income generating schemes and was dubbed as the first of its kind to ever be held by BCI. The event was organized by Blessing the Children – Ethiopia and a team of missionaries from Portland, Oregon. During the event the missionaries illustrated to the attendees how to make necklaces and bracelets from pieces of paper, string, and glue. The attendees received the training enthusiastically and saw it as a positive start toward self-sustainability. The event left a feeling of possibility and encouragement, despite different obstacles. The women have learned that with some imagination they can take the little resource that they have in their surroundings and turn them into sources of income. Because of the training the women have also begun a regular meeting to share ideas and develop their creativity.

The ladies working on their beads.

The ladies working on their beads.

The training has also proved that our mothers are willing to roll up their sleeves and fight for self-sustainability. It is also a lesson that, with a little help, self-sustainability is achievable. Therefore we would like to express our deepest gratitude for Team Portland; even though they have left Ethiopia their positive impact lives on.

The finished product!

The finished product!