Our affiliated project, the Rainbow ‘Erdata’ Center, or simply the Rainbow Center, operates from a small office in the Bole area of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. The Center’s administrators, including our volunteer coordinator, Wini, work with children from slums in and around the city. Today, we hear from our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, about how sponsorship support has helped kids who attend the Rainbow Center during their school years — and into adulthood.
Today, we hear from our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, about how sponsorship support has helped kids who attend the Rainbow Center during their school years — and into adulthood.
“This small community center is run by the government and provides children from impoverished neighborhoods with resources — including those provided by the Children Incorporated sponsorship program,” explained Luis.
“Support from sponsors ensures that children have funds for tuition at local schools, as well as to purchase books and school supplies. At times, food bags are also distributed, depending on the requested needs of the sponsored children’s parents.”
Without this support, many of the children would turn to the streets and become beggars or day to day workers earning meager wages. Because they are able to stay in school, thanks to their sponsors, many children in our program have graduated and gone into higher education,” said Luis.
An association of graduates
Wini’s assistant, Fatima, goes over paperwork with Luis during a visit to the Rainbow Center in Ethiopia.
“Some of the students that have graduated went on to form a small association of graduates, now that they all have permanent jobs in established companies, thanks to some technical training or university education.”
“There are accountants, graphic designers, engineers, and nurses in the group, among other professions. Although they do not make as much money in these professions as they would in similar jobs in the United States, because of the country’s structure, they do live now much favorably than before and are able to take care of themselves and their families,” said Luis.
Learning the value of giving back
“Furthermore, the support provided to them from their sponsors has also instilled in them the desire to help others.”
“Each member of the graduate groups sets aside a bit of their salary to help elderly members of the community,” said Luis.
“On my last trip to Ethiopia, I had a chance to meet some of the group members, and they expressed their thanks for the sponsorship support they received. They stated that without the support, they would not be able to study, graduate, and get a profession. They all look happy and reflected on the years of support with gratitude for the opportunity to change their lives.”
“One of them, an engineer working for an IT company, does also provide IT support to some of the children now participating in our sponsorship program at the Rainbow Center. Others help organize meetings, coordinate the distribution of food and school supplies, and help identify children in the local neighborhoods to enroll in our program. Wini informed me that her work is better and more efficient now, with the help of these graduates.”
How do I sponsor a child in Ethiopia?
You can sponsor a child in Ethiopia in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Ethiopia that is available for sponsorship.
We hear from our volunteer coordinator, Bisrat, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, about how they are using funds from Children Incorporated to support children in our program during this time.
Thank you to all of our sponsors and donors supporting children in our programs during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“During this COVID-19 time, we are required by law to close down the after-school programs, and schools also are closed.”
“However, we devised a remote tutoring and food distribution system. That is, we started a foodstuff distribution every month and tutorial handouts distribution every week. Our project staff is doing on-call and physical visits of the students with due care.”
Thank you to all of our sponsors and donors supporting children in our programs during the COVID-19 outbreak. Without you, we couldn’t provide this much-needed support to our affiliated projects around the world.
Bisrat prepares bags of grains for families to take home.
Located in the easternmost portion of Africa, Ethiopia is ecologically diverse, comprising desert steppes, highland plateaus, towering mountains, and tropical rainforest. Archeological evidence suggests that people have called this land home for tens of thousands of years. With one of the first known alphabet systems, Ethiopia is truly a cradle of civilization. Today, it is the world’s most populous landlocked nation. Its wealth of natural resources lends itself to Ethiopia’s primarily agriculture-based economy. Coffee is its primary export. However, in a land already susceptible to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and droughts, the turmoil brought about by political instability, lack of adequate medical services, and a general deficiency in human rights have plunged much of the nation into abject poverty. About 610,000 Ethiopians are living with HIV/AIDS (2017 est.), and diseases such as malaria, typhoid, and dengue fever are tragically common. Lack of education is both a result of and contributing factor to the widespread poverty plaguing Ethiopia.
Kids Hope Ethiopia Shashamane
The city of Shashamane, located about 150 miles south of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, is no exception to these maladies.
Nearby, Kids Hope Ethiopia serves as a beacon of hope. In this small, rural village, Kids Hope Ethiopia provides impoverished children with nutritious meals, medical care, educational assistance, counseling, and even accommodations for those considered at-risk. In a country where government regulations often hamper economic growth, Kids Hope offers these deserving children the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty through education.
Rainbow “Erdata” Center Addis Ababa
The Rainbow “Erdata” Center serves as a beacon of hope. Founded in 2000, the center’s mission is to provide much-needed assistance to children and their families living in two of the city’s most impoverished slum areas, where parents struggle to provide their children with even one or two meals a day. The Rainbow Center and Children Incorporated have joined together to provide children with not only these basic needs but also education – allowing these children to rise above the difficult socio-economic circumstances that they face.
In countries where Children Incorporated works, such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and India, children need mosquito nets to protect them from mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria and dengue, so that they will be healthy enough to attend school.
Malaria infects around 250 million people worldwide each year – most of whom are children in Africa.
What is a mosquito net?
A mosquito net is a mesh curtain that is draped over a bed or a sleeping area to offer protection against bites and stings from mosquitos, flies, and other pest insects, and the diseases they carry. Examples of such preventable insect-borne diseases include malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, Zika virus and West Nile virus. Research has shown mosquito nets to be an extremely effective method of malaria prevention, averting approximately 663 million cases of malaria over the period 2000–2015.
To be effective, the mesh of the mosquito’s net must be fine enough to prevent insects from entering while still allowing visibility and ventilation. Mosquito netting can be hung over beds from the ceiling or a frame, built into tents, or installed in windows and doors. When hung over beds, however, rectangular nets provide more room for sleeping without the danger of the netting contacting skin, and allowing mosquitos to bite through the netting.
To further protect against mosquito bites, many nets, including those that Children Incorporated provides to children in our program, are pretreated with an appropriate insecticide or insect repellent. Insecticide-treated mosquito nets have been proven to reduce illness, severe complications, and death due to malaria.
Facts about Mosquito-borne illnesses:
– Malaria infects around 250 million people worldwide each year – most of whom are children in Africa.
– Malaria and dengue can result in death, unless detected and treated promptly.
– The most effective means of preventing malaria is to sleep under a mosquito net.
It is simple and very inexpensive to provide a child and his or her family members with life-saving mosquito nets. For as little as $10, you can purchase a mosquito net that will protect an impoverished child from mosquito-borne illnesses.
How can I donate to the Mosquito Net Fund?
You can contribute to our Mosquito Net Fund in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at email@example.com; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and donate to our Mosquito Net Fund.
As an incredibly diverse continent, it is difficult to sum up Africa as a whole. Each of the 54 countries that Africa comprises is unique and distinctive in its own way, offering beautiful landscapes, rich histories, and varied cultures and customs. Spanning over 5,000 miles north to south and 4,800 miles east to west, Africa contains a wide array of religions and ethnic groups. Within each country, stark contrasts exist between rural areas and bustling cities. Known for its amazing natural wonders and safari adventures, which attract tourists from all over the world, Africa also faces a great deal of adversity, as many people there are plagued by extreme poverty, famine, and war.
Our work in Africa helps thousands of children in need every year.
Facts about Africa
– African has the second-largest population in the world with about 1.2 billion people inhabiting the continent
– Over 1,000 languages are spoken by the people of Africa
– The most-practiced religion in Africa is Islam, followed by Christianity
– The oldest human remains ever discovered, thought to be approximately 200,000 years old, were found in Ethiopia
– The longest river in the world, the Nile (4,132 miles long), is located in Africa
– The world’s largest desert, the Sahara, which is almost the size of the United States, is in Africa
– Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in Africa, at 355 feet high and one mile wide
– Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, at over 19,300 feet
– Madagascar is the largest island in Africa, and it is the fourth-largest island in the world
– Africa is the second-largest continent on earth after Asia, at approximately 11.7 million square miles
– Africa is the hottest continent on earth
In Africa, we provide children and their families with mosquito nets to protect them against mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria and dengue through our Mosquito Net Fund, and we support feeding programs through our International Feeding Programs Fund.
– 75% of the world’s poorest countries are located in Africa, including Zimbabwe, Liberia, and Ethiopia
– Diseases like HIV/AIDS are leaving kids orphaned at a very young age; an estimated 50 million orphans live in Africa
– Of all of the people in the world without access to clean water, almost 40% of them live in Africa
– Every day, almost 2,000 children die from diseases linked to unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation
Facts about hunger in Africa
– Half of the continent’s population is children; an ever-increasing number is experiencing stunted growth due to the challenges of malnutrition
– More than 300 million children are chronically hungry, and more than 90% of those children suffer from long-term malnourishment and nutrient deficiency
– The average plot of land that a family living in poverty owns is too small for a garden that could help feed a family
Facts about child education in Africa
– Primary school enrollment in African countries is among the lowest in the world
– 33 million primary school-aged children in Sub-Saharan Africa do not go to school; 18 million of those children are girls
– Although literacy rates in Africa have greatly improved over the last few decades, approximately 40% of Africans over the age of 15, and 50% of women above the age of 25, are illiterate
– Children from the poorest households are 3 times more likely to be out of school than children from the richest households
Facts about child health in Africa
– Malaria kills 3,000 African children per day
– More than 90% of the estimated 300–500 million clinical cases of malaria that occur across the globe every year are documented in Africa – primarily in children under the age of 5
– Measles, malaria, and diarrhea are 3 of the biggest killers of children — yet all are preventable or treatable
– 270 million children have no access to healthcare
– 1 in 5 children in Africa lacks safe drinking water
How you can help
You can help a child living in poverty in Africa to receive basic needs and an education so that they may have the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty – and you can do so in a few different ways. One way is through our child sponsorship program. Sponsorship provides an underprivileged child with basic and education-related necessities such as food, clothing, healthcare, school supplies, and school tuition payments. This vital support allows impoverished, vulnerable children to develop to their full potential – physically, emotionally, and socially. Sponsors positively impact the lives of the children they sponsor through the simple knowledge that someone cares about their well-being. This gives children in need hope, which is powerful.
Sponsors positively impact the lives of the children they sponsor through the simple knowledge that someone cares about their well-being.
Our policy has always been to consider the needs of each sponsored and unsponsored child on an individual basis. We work closely with our volunteer coordinators at our project sites, who are familiar with each individual circumstance and the needs of every child in their care. Sponsorship donations are sent to our projects at the beginning of each month in the form of subsidy stipends. Our on-site volunteer coordinators use these funds to purchase basic and education-related items for children in our program, to ensure that they have what they need to do their very best and succeed in school.
You can also help children in need by donating to one of our special funds. In Africa, we provide children and their families with mosquito nets to protect them against mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria and dengue through our Mosquito Net Fund, and we support feeding programs through our International Feeding Programs Fund. Our special funds offer options for sponsors who wish to further their support, as well as for donors who wish to make a difference without making a commitment.
HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN AFRICA?
You can sponsor a child in Africa at one of our affiliated projects in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Kenya or Ethiopia who is available for sponsorship.
As the end of the year approaches, I can say that the Children Incorporated staff as a whole is amazed by what we have accomplished thus far in 2017, thanks to our incredible sponsors and donors. When our President and CEO, Ron Carter, sent out a letter in December of 2016 asking our supporters to help us reach our goal of providing 1,000 pairs of new shoes to sponsored and unsponsored children at our projects in the coming year, we never dreamed the response would be so tremendous.
Just three months after launching our Shoe Fund campaign, our supporters had already donated more than $30,000 to ensure that children in our program in Latin America, Africa, and Asia would receive new shoes. We can’t thank you enough for what you have done for these special young girls and boys.
The importance of shoes
There are a lot of basic needs that children go without on a daily basis – something we understand all too well. Providing basic necessities, like clothing, food, hygiene items, and educational support, to kids is the foundation of our sponsorship program, and we believe that each and every one of these aspects is incredibly important in helping children have a greater chance to succeed in life. So why did Mr. Carter want to focus in particular on getting shoes to kids in need?
“Over the years, we have heard many heartbreaking stories about children who are unable to attend school because they don’t have wearable shoes.”
“Over the years, we have heard many heartbreaking stories about children who are unable to attend school because they don’t have wearable shoes,” says Mr. Carter. “In some cases, children attend school only every other day because they have to share a single pair of shoes with a sibling. We have always made a point of providing good, solid shoes to these children, knowing that shoes can be very expensive. As such, the Children Incorporated Shoe Fund campaign has been one of our most meaningful endeavors.”
Because of you, we have provided children at our affiliated projects the Pedro Poveda School, Guarderia El Angel, the Lourdes School, the Santa Clotilde Orphanage, Villa Emilia, the Montero Home, and the Cristo Rey Mission in Bolivia with shoes this year. Thanks to you, children at Hogar Santa Julia and Hogar Santa Maria in Mexico have brand new shoes to wear to school. If it weren’t for you, children at the Dandora Community Center in Kenya, the Rainbow ‘Erdata’ Center in Ethiopia, Chrishanti Lama Sevana in Sri Lanka, La Milagrosa in Costa Rica, and Santa Isabel Ana Seton in Guatemala wouldn’t have received new footwear, either.
To date, we have provided 1,235 pairs of shoes to kids in need, and we will continue distributing shoes in the upcoming months.
Thank you for all that you do to help children – we couldn’t do it without you.
HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD with children incorporated?
You can sponsor a child with Children Incorporated in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at email@example.com; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in that is available for sponsorship.
Around this time last year, Children Incorporated’s Director of Development, Shelley Callahan, and Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, boarded a plane and set off on the first of many adventures together, On the Road. Side by side, the two traveled to dozens of projects around the globe, from as far away as Ethiopia, to as close to home as Kentucky.
The idea was simple: give readers a first-hand look at the impact of child sponsorship. “The day-to-day life in these towns is always a story of triumph over adversity,” Shelley had said. “We want our readers to have a front-row seat on our trips so they can see first-hand how Children Incorporated partnerships work on the ground.”
Luis and Shelley on their first trip together to Bolivia
The duo is preparing for several more trips in 2017. We caught up with Shelley to get her perspective on the series one year later – and to find out where On the Road will take us this year.
CI: It’s been a year since you and Luis first took readers “On the Road” to visit Children Incorporated projects in Bolivia. What is most memorable to you about that trip, and why?
SC: Going to Bolivia was my first international trip with Children Incorporated, and it really opened my eyes to the work we do. As the Director of Development, I understand how important it is to provide basic needs to our sponsored children, and I am aware of the impact that our sponsors and donors have on our children and their families, but seeing it firsthand in La Paz and in Santa Cruz was really life-changing for me.
Also, getting to see a larger, long-term project come to fruition was beyond amazing. Luis and I were invited to participate in the inauguration of the addition to the Montero School, which had been under construction for more than six months. Thanks to the support of Children Incorporated sponsors, the school now has enough classrooms to teach hundreds of children on a daily basis. We got to celebrate with the community there, and we stuck around to see the children try out their new classrooms. The sheer joy and excitement was extremely moving.
That’s precisely why we are doing this – to show what one person can do. It’s really something to witness, and I’m honored to share it with our readers.
We traveled all over Bolivia, and met so many incredible people, including Carla, a woman who graduated from an affiliate program of ours in La Paz. Carla was abandoned by her parents when they left Bolivia in search of work. She was raised by her grandmother, who struggled to support her granddaughter on meager earnings from the produce she sold at the local market.
With support from her sponsor, and under the guidance of our volunteer coordinator, Josefina, Carla successfully graduated from the Pedro Poveda School.
Now Carla is in college and working to save money to build a house. She lives with her husband, and they have a daughter together. And she still stays in touch with her sponsor after all these years! It was such a testament to the power of what one person can do, and just how a seemingly-small gesture, like donating $30 a month to a child, can be life-changing.
CI: Why did Children Incorporated decide to launch the On the Road series in the first place?
SC: We launched On the Road to bring our sponsors and donors along with us in order to show them the impact their contributions are making on children all over the world.
We could never have anticipated the reaction we had from our readers. I’ve heard many times over the past year that people really do feel as though they went on a trip with me – whether it was to South America, Africa, or in the U.S.
That’s precisely why we are doing this – to show what one person can do. It’s really something to witness, and I’m honored to share it with our readers.
CI: Has anything surprised you along the way?
SC: There are always lots of surprises when you travel, but what really amazes me is how this experience has helped develop my relationship with our donors. People comment all the time on the pictures we share and on the stories we tell about our travels around the globe. It’s really wonderful to share these experiences with our donors.
Luis with Carla, her daughter, and our coordinator, Josefina, in La Paz, Bolivia
CI: You started in Bolivia, and went on to cover site visits in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Mexico – and even in the U.S. Which was the most challenging? Which was the most rewarding?
SC: This is a hard question, because every country is different, and every project is different, too! But I have to admit that visiting the slums of Dandora and Pumwani in Kenya was especially difficult. Site visits can be physically and emotionally draining at times. Long days of traveling to projects, having meetings, and interviewing children and their families already requires a great deal of stamina, but when you see the conditions the children live in, and you so desperately want more for them in life, it takes a toll.
Of course, out of the toughest challenges are the greatest rewards. In the bleakest of environments, I’ve seen up-close how sponsorship is making an impact. Most of the children we serve abroad would not be able to attend school if it weren’t for their sponsorship through Children Incorporated – it simply wouldn’t be possible. In many cases, school is the only safe haven available to these children. And in the U.S., sponsorship helps in ways that are so important. For example, there are children in Kentucky who are going to school in literally broken flip flops in the middle of the winter, with no coat – and they’re going home on the weekends to a house with no food. Sponsorship keeps those children warm and fed.
CI: Is there a place you wish you could have stayed longer? Why?
Luis with sponsored children in Kenya
SC: I think I could have stayed in all of these places longer, because our coordinators are so welcoming and grateful for what Children Incorporated is able to do because of our donors. I have felt at home visiting all of our sites. But it would have been really cool to stay in Ethiopia longer, because we had provided some funds to help our affiliate project Kids Hope start a large garden to be maintained by the older sponsored children, to teach them and to provide food for the project – and I would have loved to have seen them get that going. They have since sent pictures, and it looked like everyone was having a lot of fun!
Of course, out of the toughest challenges are the greatest rewards. In the bleakest of environments, I’ve seen up-close how sponsorship is making an impact.
CI: Of all the On the Road stories you published last year, which is your favorite? Why?
SC: Tough question! One particular story that stood out is “Two Wheels and the Wind in Your Hair,” about the sponsor who donated bikes to children in Eastern Kentucky. It was so impactful because I got to be a part of so much of it – connecting with Claudette Gurley of New Hampshire, who had raised the money to purchase the bikes in memory of a friend who had passed away; actually going to Walmart and purchasing the bikes; presenting the bikes to the kids; and then meeting their parents when we dropped the bikes off at their houses. It was all very moving – to see the excitement on the faces of the children. I will never forget one of the boys saying, “I don’t know her (about the donor), but tell her I love her!”
CI: You’ve traveled extensively all over the globe for many years. What’s your best advice to those who want to travel off the beaten path?
SC: I’ve been fortunate to have been able to see so much of the world. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting nearly sixty foreign countries in my lifetime. I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel with Children Incorporated, and to see firsthand the impact of sponsorship in the lives of the children we serve.
My best advice for any traveler is to have an open mind. Accept whatever comes your way, and respect all cultures and traditions, even if your natural reaction is to try to do things the way you are accustomed to at home. It’s always good to ask questions of everyone you meet – on the airplane, your host, someone who works at a local store. You will find out the best, most interesting information about a country from the locals, and you will hear the most fascinating stories from nationals. It is the only way to get a real, full idea of what life is like in a foreign country. And don’t forget to write it all down! Sharing stories is the way to make the greatest impact – if we tell others’ stories, we can help change the lives of others in need, just like On the Road tries to do.
Sharing stories is the way to make the greatest impact – if we tell others’ stories, we can help change the lives of others in need, just like On the Road tries to do.
CI: Did you bring home any souvenirs from the places you visited? What were they and why are they special?
SC: The best souvenirs are the ones that our volunteer coordinators or the children’s families give me, because they are personal and thoughtful. I have to say that the most moving gift I received was hand-painted tablecloths from the mothers of sponsored children at the Montero Home in Bolivia. They took hours to paint beautiful flowers on the tablecloths, which we would see in homes in Bolivia. It is hard to accept gifts from families that are in need, because they could sell them for money instead of give them to me; but it is the most heartwarming gesture, and a gift that will always remind me of these special people whom I have had the privilege of meeting and spending time with.
CI: You are gearing up for more travels soon. Where will you take readers in 2017?
SC: I will be in Costa Rica in May, visiting the La Milagrosa Center, the Costa Rica Center, and the Santa Luisa Center; and we will be distributing shoes to the children there, which is very exciting. On the same trip, I will also visit our projects in Nicaragua, which include the La Recoleccion Home and the Casa Betania Welfare Center – both homes where we support children living in poverty.
In July, Luis and I will be visiting projects in both Sri Lanka and India. We are currently trying to partner with another non-profit organization to take water filters to our children and their families in some of the schools we work with in Hyderabad, India, which is so important. Closer to the end of the year, we will be visiting projects in the Philippines – the details are yet to be determined, but in the past, Luis has taken eyeglasses with him to provide additional support for children and their parents.