Poverty Swap - Making it Happen!

Thursday, 30 March 2017 12:50

What Happened to Deborah Nursery in Ethiopia?

Written by

Original building 2013 2

 

Building Blocks

When I visited this abandoned building in 2012 the question posed me was a bit like the one God posed Ezekiel at the valley of dry bones!  He had said "Can these bones live?" and I was asked "Can this be a nursery school?".   Well, during a period of prayer we discovered it was indeed something God knew the answer to.

At the end of that prayer my face was wet with tears of hope.  Hope and faith that this place could be filled with the sound of children learning and that we would be able to have some part in that.  As I wiped my face with my hands, which had just been placed on the crumbling building, my face was coated in a muddy layer of red sand!   I was actually wearing the building!  It is clear to me that since that day God's face has always been shining there and we have been happy to follow His instructions "Let the children come". 

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First Steps in Learning

By 2013/12014 the building had been simpy renovated and 20 of the community's most needy children were receiving early years education for the very first time.  The learning emphasis was on developing children through their confidence, play and encouraging their early attempts at learning to read, write and count.   Parents living in desperate poverty, who themselves had never received an educational opportunity, expressed their grateful thanks that miraculously their small children were being given the chance to go to school.   Boys and girls learned together with many more longing to place their children into the care of this innovative Nursery School.  Local mothers and young women with a heart to bring change to their own community were employed to lead the children in daily morning classes five days a week.  

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Growing and Learning
Within a year, proudly wearing little paper crowns they had made, 38 children graduated from the very first year.  It was a celebration of tremendous joy and thankfulness for what God had done to help us in all that was achieved.  
 
Learning expanded and the number of children increased, with some able to contribute a small amount toward the running of the school. Brothers and sisters, neighbours, cousins and friends were able to learn together,  arriving eagerly before start at 8.30 and running home at 12 to tell of their adventures.  
 
Their journey to and from school however passed by many more children their age who would go through their lives without any access to education and for whom the grip of poverty had no gateway of hope.
 
Facing The Challenge
In 2016 the local authority helped us along in our resolve to help local people do what they can to provide early years education for their own children.  They said the premises was no longer suitable for the number of children attending and that it should close immediately.   A stay of execution was granted when angry parents presented their case that this was the only possible facility their children were able to attend and therefore time had to be given to try to build an improved Nursery school.
 
As in 2012 when the abandoned building was shown to me, when this crisis was related to me we were totally without funds to do anything at all.   When considering our options, and the budgets involved, there was an option to close down and walk away.  Yes, children had already been helped and would now attend the local schools.  Excellence had been achieved by many and so a pathway of opportunity was laid down before them to walk on.  However, in our hearts we knew that this was not God's heart and that many more children, even generations of families, could benefit from our very next step!  We began the drive to build a brand new, permanent school building for The Deborah Nursery.  
 
Many Hands...and Feet
P1010881Marathons were run, fun days, tea and pudding parties, coffee mornings and a creative list of get togethers were enjoyed, raising vital funds.  A charity auction raised great hilarity and boosted the purse.
 
There was sacrificial giving, donations and offerings large and small.  There was even what can only be described as miraculous money from heaven!   All to come to the aid of some of the tiniest most vulnerable chidren in the world!  
 
When we stand on the side of the poor, the bible tells us and I have experienced it so often, we really do stand right where God stands! Personally it is my favourite spot to be.
 
Our Integrity Promise 
As is our promise, we began to send 100% of the incoming funds to our trusted partners on the ground in Ethiopia.  Ordinary women who, with faith in God's almighty hand, are launched into quite extraordinary exploits!  
 
Grandmothers began negotiating with builders to get the best price and value for the work.  These women became architects, planners and project managers as each block was chosen by hand and the price haggled down to the best possible.  Oh and they know how to haggle every penny!
 
In June 2016 Deborah Nursery closed.  Many imagined, sadly, that the dream was at an end.
 
Building Deborah School 2016
 
Unexpected Transformation
However, during the summer break, despite the seasonal rains, a new school began to emerge.  Like a butterfly struggling free of its casket and caterpillar life.  As they watched, local people could scarcely believe their eyes.  The little friendly nursery building had been wonderful to them.  This new build of five classrooms/toilets and playground equipment was beyond their wildest dreams.  
 
Welcome to Fikir KG
Due to there being a similarly named facility within the region where the nursery is located it had to be renamed.   It will now be known as Fikir Kindergarten.  Fikir is a word in the Ethiopian language meaning "love", so it is certainly well named.    
View of the new building Fikir Nursery Ethiopia 2016-17 2
 
 
School term restarted in September 2016 on schedule!  58 children registered with half of those being children with no means at all to pay fees or provide pencils, books or educational items.
 
When I visited in February 2017 I found some very happy children.  The general excellence of premises, increased staff members, playground equipment and developmental learning was most encouraging.  Our local advisor, an experienced educator who pioneers such early education in Ethiopia, agrees that all is very, very good.
 
School Group with me Feb 2017 2
 
To my delight too, parents have formed a supportive group and one father, unable to express himself to me in anything other than expressive body language, clearly indicated his awe and wonder and delight at this amazing miracle on behalf of his children.
  
Creating Educational Equality
 
As I travelled to and from the Nursery I noted the number of working children and those whose sole task is to collect water every day.   I also noted that there are big families with so many children.
 
Kids and Cow 2
 
By providing early education for the poorest and most vulnerable children we are creating equality of opportunity.  If school is only available to those who can buy a pencil then there is no equality.  For the poorest children to learn alongside those who are better off, even slightly,  we have discovered that the development of such a child, motivated and encouraged along the way can far exceed expectations.
 
As the principal partner in this amazing little school we have the opportunity not just to change one life but to impact whole families and communities for future generations.  
 
 
KG kids 2017 2
 
An Expanding Vision
The first children who graduated from Deborah Nursery are now attending local schools.  Before 2014, when Deborah opened, this was only an impossible dream in the hearts of parents.  Now it is reality.  
 
At Fikir we are seeking to expand and continue schooling on site by building a new classroom each year over the next few years.  This will enable children to come to Nursery from 2 years old and continue through until they leave for High School. The value of such a centre of education for this community is immense.  
 
Jigsaw learning 2Securing Their Future
We are currently working with our local partners to secure education opportunities for many more children, even for those generations to come.   
 
Staff and volunteers currently work very hard at bringing the best nursery education to the children and we are agreeing with them to do our best to help provide running costs.  
 
 
There are currently a number of ways for friends of PovertySwap to do this. 
 
New girl 2Monthly donation by standing order.  
For just a few pounds per month you can know you are changing the life opportunities for some of the world's poorest children.  
 
One off donations by individuals/families/groups
Friends of PovertySwap include churches, WI groups, Mothers Unions, Guilds  and others who by giving gathered funds to our registered charity consider they are making a 100% valued added investment for the benefit of those who need it most. 
 
Fundraising initiatives
Bake sales, auctions, fun days, sponsored sports events, tea parties, pudding and prosecco.  There is always room for creative fundraising and we will do what we can to support you in your fundraising event.  
 
 
Young Fundraiser of the Year
In 2016 we were very impressed with a creative idea launched by a young person, William Thompson of Cockermouth and awarded him Young Fundraiser of the Year.    William created a cartoon picture book and entered a national competition.  Of 5000 entries I believe, he won first prize.  His prize was 50 published copies of the book.  He sold those copies as well as auctioned some more of his fascinating cartoons and raised around £500 to equip Fikir KG.    We were able to deliver some excellent materials to the school to expand children's learning through play.    Children and young people helping children and young people of their own age is always very powerful.  If you have a young fundraiser in your home, family, school, brownies etc we would love to hear from them.  
 
Connect My School
Our first school to connect with Fikir has been Seaton Juniors in Cumbria.  As a school project some of the children made posters and a school shield in support of the opening of the new school building.  Both staff and children in Ethiopia were thrilled to know that other children and staff are thinking about them and the gifts were placed proudly on the school wall.  Upon my return I was able to do an entertaining Assembly which was well received at Seaton Juniors and plans are underway to raise some funds and consider how to further support the Nursery.  
 
Your school could connect in a very simple way with Fikir too.  
 
Seaton Jnrs 3 2
 
Sponsor/Support individual children

For a more personal connection it may be possible to support an individually named child over the period of their education at Fikir.   You would receive an information card for your supported child/children and may be able to offer words of support of your own over that time through letters or cards.
 
Smiling Girl KG2 2 
 
Join A Team Trip

The value of meeting people face to face is priceless.  To read on a website or listen to a presentation about Fikir KG and the children who live around there is useful and interesting but to taste the red sand, walk the cobbled roads they walk, eat the food they eat and experience what it means to live as one of the poorest people in the world is a gift that is immeasurable.  
 
It is possible to come with us to Ethiopia.  Trips are self-funded and we try to keep costs as low as possible. We are especially interested in those who have gifts/qualifications/interest in Early Years Education and could mentor current staff.   
 
Learning girl 2    Teacher and sums 2
 
 
Outdoor Play Fikir Nursery 2016-17 3
 
 
Inspired? Want more information?  
Contact me,  Helen Faulds 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: +44 1900 829525
I'll be happy to hear from you
 
  
        
 
  
 
 

  

 


Tuesday, 01 March 2016 09:22

Transformation and Challenge in Ethiopia

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I just returned from two weeks visiting our partners and friends in Ethiopia and have nothing but praise for those wonderful people who are literally creating opportunities and lives worth living for so many, often the most vulnerable children, who have been without hope.  It is exhausting and emotional work but all the people I spent some time with have one thing in common - a firm belief that things can be different.

DORCAS

At the Dorcas Project for women at risk of HIV/Aids there is clear evidence that the loving concern of the staff and women there draws an increasing volume of families to their regular drop-in sessions offering help with healthcare, parenting, disease prevention, social and self confidence.   During the last 2 years PovertySwap has been able to help in seed funding for micro-business and it is there that I saw great transformation.  The Dorcas centre provides support, strength, training for employment, business set-up and skills to earn an independent living within the local community.  This is vital for families at risk of AIDS as often the main breadwinner will die early and leave families destitute.  While medicines can help bodies cope with disease providing a service for their local communities has restored young mothers' confidence and status amongst neighbours and friends.

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A pioneering preventative workshop amongst teenagers also shows encouraging signs.   It is unbelievable but true that often mothers of many children have no idea how they actually became pregnant.  In such cases knowledge is certainly power and  such education amongst young people with little education and quite ferral living conditions can save the lives of both young girls and babies born far too soon.  Sad to say, despite it being illegal, there are still great numbers of under-age brides, often resulting in difficult, dangerous pregnancites. Dorcas hopes to help educate young people, helping them make better life choices, see their own value and help them find pathways as significant members of their community.

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It is such a blessing to personally see families being restored.  I was at Dorcas the first day a young mum with  two small babies arrived for the friday drop-in session.  They were twins, a boy and a girl.  The family, it was discovered, were living in extremely cramped conditions with around 10 other people.  The mum's deep, hungry, dark eyes followed me around the room, perhaps they said, this was the route to life.  I met mum and children many times over these two years, improving but always in such deep need.  On this trip a woman walked into the centre with strong, confident steps.  She clearly had purpose and there was an air of freedom to her walk.  I was amazed to see, on second look, having already thought it was someone new, that this was the twin's mother!  Her unfolding story is one of transformation and very moving to think we have such a small part in such a big story.  Her children have been given places in the SOS school and that gives her opportunity to enroll on the Needlework programme at Dorcas.  She is a top student and her face blooms with future possibilities.  Dorcas will of course be there to support and encourage her as she carves out new pathways for herself and her family.  

Dorcas

 

LANTU'S HOME OF HIDDEN TREASURES

Lantus

Knowing the trauma of unwanted pregnancies in Ethiopia and the stories of terrible things that happen to those newborn babies as people try to hide them or get rid of them I was especially delighted to visit the new children's home, run by Ebenezer Grace Homes, for tiny babies and children with special needs/disability.   I met so many with stories of early life tragedy but my impression of the home was one of a great deal of love, lots of light and smiles and unlimited possibility and potential for the little people in their care.    This is the second home opened by our friends, Argaw and Rachel, Sean and Megan and when asked if it was a bigger challenge than they expected their immediate reply was "It's a bigger blessing than we could have imagined".  When we stand on the side of the poorest and most vulnerable that is our promise.  PovertySwap is able to support this work through individual donations.  We heard that many orphanages are being closed around Ethiopia, with those small children becoming homeless.  Ebenezer Grace and Lantu's Home of Hidden Treasures will be a lifeline to rescue many destined to die.  

 DEBORAH KINDERGARTEN

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Our nursery in the mountains of Yir Gallum went through a bit of a transformation itself last summer that felt quite uncomfortable.  Upon my visit in June 2015 I discovered roadworks outside had encroached upon our fence and it had fallen down.  Inside play equipment had not stood the test of children learning to play and it too lay in pieces.  We had so many plans and while the children, with the help of faithful staff, had done well the atmosphere was one of disappointment and even defeat.  It was troubling.  But we had offered these children Early Years Education that would mean they would have opportunities for a life none of their ancestors ever dreamed of.  That concept in our culture is difficult to understand as we have never known a system where children don't go to school.  The Deborah KG offered free nursery education for 25 of the poorest children in the area, there was no other option. With our partners we set to work on a plan to restore and maintain, train and develop staff and establish the nursery as originally planned, with PovertySwap continuing to provide  grant funding for running expenses.    Upon my return it was a delight to find that now the road is completed, the fence is standing and solid again, new stronger outdoor play equipment is in place,  staff training has been effective and included production of learning materials and enthusiasm that is bringing remarkable results from our little early learners, some of whom will be ready for school this year.  

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A NEW CHALLENGE

The nursery building to date is a small residential building that was previously derelict.  It stands in a garden compound full of coffee trees, false banana, fruit trees and a small field for maize and vegetable growing.   The local education authority are not happy.  Despite the fact they can see 50 children receiving free or low cost education which they cannot provide themselves, like any local authority they have their regulations regarding residential use and non-residential.  They arrived a few months ago to say the nursery must close until a school building with at least 3 classrooms is built.  Essentially, they were saying, no school is better than our home spun, highly effective free school.  It was a big shock as that office had always encouraged us and said they would give all the help they could.  Our partner explained that there is no personal benefit at all to her family who own the land,  but that the school is wholly for the benefit of the local children who have shown an aptitude for learning with excellence.  The school also employs 7 people.  The answer was hardline and immovable.  Until that is the parents got to hear of the dilemma.  These are families who have learned to keep quiet and live in their poverty without ripples.  But this decision made them angry.  It affected only their children and like mums the world over those children would be protected from every attack and injustice by the very people who gave them birth.  So together the parents went  to the education office and demanded the school be kept open.  Negotiations were entered and it was agreed to start some work with a view to give time to improve the buildings over the summer break.  This was victory indeed.  It was also discovered the name of the nursery was in confilict with another local school so it had to be changed.  It will now be known as Fikir KG (which means Love) - the new title is certainly a declaration of what makes that nursery grow and succeed.  

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We are so grateful to all those who make this little miracle school happen.  It takes so little to help and it is wonderful to be in such a great team, together with staff, parents, local people and authorities, donors and supporters working hard to bring these huge dreams to practical reality.  When Jesus was asked "Who is greatest in the kingdom?"  He took up a little child in the middle of them.  He still notices that smallest, most at risk little one.  He lifts them up and says: Here, educate this one, save the life of that one,  get parents for this one, house that one, rescue this one, heal that one etc.  Such work becomes part of heaven itself.  

If we are not able to build our classrooms for Fikir KG in the summer then there is real danger that it will close!  Everything in me cries at what that would mean for so many.  However I have been grateful that God has always led us and that PovertySwap has had some amazing financial gifts, faithful donors and supporters of every walk of life for some years.  I think we are facing our biggest challenge to date.  We will be embarking on some serious fundraising over these months and if you can help in any way at all, especially to connect our story to your many friends and family, would you please do that?  We will help you in any way we can.  Thank You So Much.  

With love and thanks on behalf of our partners, friends and the Children who benefit from these projects,  Helen and Ian  

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I wonder, are there any more desperate, vulnerable or at risk people in the world just now than those who risk all that is left, leaving behind vast piles of rubble that used to be their cities and their homes, with the haunting images of their most loved family members, even children, dead in the settled dust.  Take a look at the photograph of just one street in a Syrian town!  What would you do?  Where would you go for your children to be safe?

It has indeed been difficult for people to know what to do but the feeling of “we must do something” has been strong for many.  A number of people have asked if PovertySwap has partners who are able to help those suffering.   We have the honour of personally knowing  amazing people all over the world and a number, like our friend pictured below in Athens helping children and distraught people on the move,  have already been to refugee camps in the Middle East and a number of flashpoints where desperate families find themselves.   We have friends who are even receiving multiple traumatised families into their own homes.

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Within our own extended family we have family members who live in Athens and they have spoken movingly and with deep sorrow at witnessing the fragility of small children arriving there with nowhere to go.   Sometimes even small children with no-one to care for them on the journey.    Were we to see them at our bus-station or post-office what would we do?  This Christmas, PovertySwap wants to be a channel to facilitate that “do something” prayer that is in many of us. 

We have opened our Children’s Christmas Appeal Fund with our promise that 100% of all donations will go directly to our partners, people we know personally,  for the benefit of these most desperate of children.  Choked by the emotion that overwhelms them as they recall to mind their experiences of meeting people face to face our friends tell us the need is great for urgent medical assistance, food, water, shelter, clothing and shoes, tents, sleeping bags and more.   Just as vital for people who have perhaps travelled thousands of miles, survived sinking boats while loved ones may have drowned and lived life in constant survival and grief for so many years is the great need for human contact.  The need for just one friend in a dark night, someone who cares, someone to talk to, to be able to relate their story, someone to cry with and someone to hug, even someone who can make those little broken hearted ones laugh.  

We are confident that PovertySwap donations this Christmas will help to ease  suffering and supply help, healing and hope along the way.   In essence we can be the vital hands of the Good Samaritan on the dangerous road, without whom the beaten man would undoubtedly have died.  Would you help us to do that?  We would ask only that please, this year, be especially generous.  Go an extra mile.  Give an extra gift.  Do what you truly can.  Desperate children require our desperate giving.  We, and they, shall be incredibly grateful.   Donate Now.  Thank You.  


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Thanks to the prompt and compassionate responses of PovertySwap friends following the Nepal Earthquake on April 12th £3000 for the benefit of earthquake victims was raised in just 2 days. Donations are still arriving and following the May12 earthquake the fund has grown to almost £6000.  It has always been our intention to place the funds directly with our trusted co-workers in Nepal who are tasked with the role of finding where those funds can be best used for the benefit of those who need it most.   

Gable end earthquake houseAs cash, cheques, online donations, group collections and retail collection boxes were being thrust our way someone, with that feeling of hopelessness that surely arrives with every new media account, questioned what use a donation of £20 would be amongst so much need.  The story that is unfolding amongst the rubble of Nepal's villages is incredibly moving and we are enouraged that our personal hands-on approach has proved vital for those at the sharpest end of the pain, even in the midst of catastrophic disaster.

Reaching the unreachable

Ravi and earthquake demolitionBoth of our co-workers in the Katmandhu area are known to us and we heard from one immediately after the earthquake, relating his experiences of the continuing shocks and tremors.  We were instantly able to instruct him to find those who would be able to put PovertySwap donations to best use for the benefit of the most vulnerable victims of the earthquake. Within days he was able to provide us with sufficient information for us to begin to transfer some of the funds.  The organisation he partnered with have sent teams into the worst affected areas.  This organisation works in a very similar way to our own core values.  They are working in a very personal way with local people for the well-being of their communities. The emergency funding we sent will provide in the first instance clean water, food, shelter and sanitation with teams in place over a longer period during the months ahead to assist families as they rebuild their homes and lives.   

Nepal earthquake house destroyedAnother group was in preparation to take vital supplies to remote areas when the May 12th earthquake hit and their plans had to be reassessed.  Himself a shocked member of the Kathmandhu community that has faced so much destruction, fear and frustration we are thankful that our co-worker has been working tirelessly to find those we can best help.  

Loving Your Neighbour

In 2008 I travelled to Nepal with a group from Glasgow University.  It was part of our field-trip to stay with local families for some nights and work with parents and people from the village to build some new classrooms onto their school. During these years I have maintained contact with my host family.   In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake contact with that area was difficult.  We heard from a number of sources that people were safe but that there had been much destruction of property.  

Nepal earthquake homesAfter an anxious week we heard from our co-worker that people were without food or clothing.  We remembered the rice and vegetables that are the staple diet in those homes and realised that to be without basic supplies is truly disastrous.  Often livestock, the harvest and food supplies, grown in the fields around, are carefully stacked in store rooms of homes.  A vital supply for the family's needs.  When those houses came down so did their ability to survive. In the shock of those first weeks life becomes a deadly game of survival, even as the ground continues to heave and shake.  We wanted to play our part.  In the first instance we passed on £200 for use amongst local victims.  Our co-worker himself had lost no property and was keen to help those on the worst affected ridge, relatively closeby.   

Nepal Earthquake houseReceipts for PovertySwap donations come in a variety of forms.  We have everything from neatly typed letters to quickly scribbled notes with the amount, the date and a known signature.  But the receipt that arrived from this village must touch the heart of even the most cynical.  There on an A4 sheet of paper, folded and torn as it has clearly been carried from place to place in someone's pocket, stained and grainy with the dust of tons of rubble that used to be people's homes, it contains the names, and signatures of 21 householders, each one given an equal share amounting to less than £10 each!  Names ike, Ram, Rupa, Dharba, could be the equivalent of your neighbours, Bob, Grace, Alan.  These are very ordinary people whose neighbour, when faced with their need, saw a way to help.  

Earthquake familyAfter his tour of distribution he wrote:  "Villagers said to you Thank you very very much to helpng and supporting us and thank you from myside also god bless you.  I had given that money to the victim family, per family RS1500.... there are more victim family".    We were happy to send a further £500 for the immediate benefit of earthquake victims in that village and it is our intention to carry on with our plan this year to visit in November.  

What Can I Do Now? 

We will continue to administer the Nepal Earthquake Emergency Fund for some months so we shall be happy to receive your coninued dontions, fundraising, sponsored events and the like for that.  However if you want to contribute to a regular sum to help rebuild Nepal's Broken Homes then do set up a standing order with your bank for any amount and we will get it to them on a regular basis.  

Thank you to everyone who made this all possible.  

 

 


Saturday, 25 April 2015 22:40

Nepal Earthquake Emergency Fund

Written by

Nepal Boy WorkingWe have been shocked and saddened to hear details of the massive earthquake that is causing death, suffering, loss and destruction in both the city and remote areas of Nepal.  We ask you to pray for our co-workers there, our friends, their families and friends as well as those whose lives have been torn away from them.

Most of life in Nepal is dependant on the fragile relationship between mountain and people. Homes perch on precarious ridges and life is sustained by the crops grown on the mountainside terraces. Daily food, water and even existence are subject to the moods of the climate.
 
When nature throws a roar like this people are small and vulnerable in its wake. Bereaved, homeless, shocked, without hope. 
 
Since we have co-workers and friends that we can trust strategically located within Nepal we at PovertySwap are compassionately intent on offering the help we can.  We know that PovertySwap friends will agree and we pray you will give all the help you can.
 
Donations have already been received for children at risk and if you want to add to this emergency fund, knowing that 100% of your donation reaches those who most need it, we are happy to receive your emergency donation so that we may be ready to hand it on as soon as it is possible to get it out there.  
 
Donate online at this website or by cheque/cash to our contact address or by direct bank transfer to the povertyswap account, reference Nepal, sort code 77-56-09 Account No: 15706768  Thank you so much.  
Helen and Ian Faulds, Founding Directors, PovertySwap.  
Registered Charity Number 1152167

Friday, 16 January 2015 11:29

Help Us Secure Their Future

Written by

photo 2 6

It's a Happy New Year greeting from all our coworkers, friends, the children, families and communities we work together with across the world.  Some of us work with different calendars and therefore today's date can be different across many nations and in many cultures.  However each one of us fully appreciates your interest, connection and efforts on behalf of the children, families and communities we serve.   Therefore, whatever the date it is a fresh new day of opportunity to make a difference for some of the world's neediest people. 

Romania Kids Club 2014

In Romania

Snow has fallen heavily in the Roma gypsy villages where our PovertySwap supported Family Worker offers a hand to children growing up in a rough, tough world.  During the Christmas and New Year period her small courageous team were able to work with local churches and schools to bring the love and message of Christmas in caring and practical ways. Outreach is also encouraged in the local school and, as a trained social worker with teacher training and gifting she is able to minister there,  creatively helping children grasp basic education like reading, writing, arithmetic as well as a well informed religious education class as currently required by the State.

Photographs of children we have known and met and who are growing into teens, young men and women now delight us as they send their greetings to us through laughing dark eyes and easy smiles.  The daycamp dining room set out in Christmas splendour, winter fun in the snow and warm and welcoming tables set with food to fill hungry stomachs, all draw children for a while into a safe, loving environment, and for most it is so completely different to anything they experience elsewhere.  I am always aware though that the children always look more vulnerable, less healthy and more unhappy in these winter pictures.  Sickness, hunger, cold, depression, hopelessness, lack and fear are their tormentors in greater measure during these harsh months.  

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Together with a number of communities we are working to find a pathway for the Roma gypsy child to have an improved future in the generations to come. After-school tuition is recognised globally as an excellent way to fast-track children's learning.  For the Roma gypsies of Romania we are eager to find a holistic solution that will mean the new children born to this generation of young people will be able to find better opportunities for their children to come. The efforts of our Family Worker and her team are a step in that direction and we encourage PovertySwap friends to consider what future lies in the eyes of the girl in this picture.  I am sure that is not the future of her dreams.

PovertySwap is working with the local community to draw her into the potential she can only imagine.  The camp days, classes and children's outreach meetings all serve to say "You Matter".  Self-esteem is an amazing starting block for fulfilled potential and fullness of life, irrespective of environment sometimes.  We have witnessed firsthand how a mother who is helped to have her self-esteem and confidence restored will first begin to restore the lives of her family and the community around her.  

These are the small, seemingly insignificant, building blocks with which our PovertySwap co-workers work.  The value of kind words, faithful visits, constancy of message and availability of warm relationship is lifeblood to the child whose world is none of those things.  Absence of violence, absence of fear, absence of responsibility and a working life, even for an hour, sow gentle seeds in the heart of stone, and from tough little stones great trees have been known to grow.  If you would like to help us by sharing your time, knowledge, resources or gifts, get in touch today.   

YGKG sweetheartNews from The Deborah Kindergarten, Ethiopia

We are  pressing on to encourage people to give their best efforts for the small children of Yir Gallum in the Sidamo region of Ethiopia and the wonderful stepping stone into lifelong education that is The Deborah Kindergarten.  While PovertySwap friends have been able to start-fund the nursery school the project is growing fast with 45 children and 5 staff members already in place since the summer break.  Local people are able to contribute some payment towards children's education but the majority within the area where the school is situated have only known generations of need and poverty.  

PovertySwap has an ongoing opportunity for those who would like to provide vital pre-school preparatory education for the smallest and poorest children in this community.   From just £5 per month you can get involved, contribute to this work and make a powerful impact in the lives of really vulnerable children.  100% of every donation will be sent to the project co-workers for the benfit of each child's individual need.  A strong healthy child will learn well and at The Deborah KG we are concerned to have well fed stomachs, healthy bodies, active and creative minds and a programme of formal and informal education that is encouraged by "Learning Through Play".  

We would be happy to hear from you if you would like to help us impact these children and the future for Ethiopia in this way.

"Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world" Nelson Mandela

EZ spyingEmpowerment, Healing and Laughter for South Africa

Elizabeth van Zwet works dailyamongst some of Scotland's neediest children. They may be terminally ill, children with disability, in crisis or in trauma.  As a creative health practitioner her work takes her amongst families suffering trauma, their educators and medical staff.  Working with a skilled team she is sharing a wonderful and unique gift that is able to gently win the trust of a fragile heart in its hour of deepest need and draw out an inherent wellbeing through simple humourous fun.  

Fascinatingly, laughter, full of comfort and even healing, seems to be housed deep within the soul, often sitting in darkness and fear until someone with the gift to know how to draw it out comes along.  Families, medical staff, teachers and carers agree there is great value in hearing the sound of their desperate child's giggles and raucous laughter.  As she goes about her day Elizabeth seems  like someone in a hot thirsty land drawing a small cup of water from a deep well.  

When we saw Elizabeth in action it filled our imaginations with 'what if we could package up that gift and those abilities and send it for the benefit of children in the world's toughest, most desperate places?' How would children benefit? What would be the outcome for their lives?  What healing would they know that would help them along their way?  

Of course there are more needy children in the world day by day but Elizabeth comes to us offering to use her knowledge, resources and skills amongst those in South Africa where she has received an invitation to spend three months mentoring young people.   It will be her second trip to South Africa and she has already begun to prepare her work to share her giftings, and offer Life Skills training to local people who will be able to communicate hope and positive changes for their communities where children are at risk of violence, HIV/Aids, early marriage, early pregnancy and a never ending cycle of fear and cultural abuse.  

If laughter can be drawn and stream from the heart of a child without hope of recovery on a hospital bed in Scotland,  then we feel sure the impact of this co-worker upon the children and young people at the heart of these communities in South Africa is worth packaging her up and sending her there.  Would you consider fundraising for our Laughter for South Africa fund?  100% of your donations will be used for transport, health care, board and necessary expenses for the trip including educational materials.  We believe it is a powerful seed to create a big impact for children at risk now and for the future of their own children.   Help us secure that future.  You can donate here or through BTmydonate where you will find more information about Elizabeth's plan and the people who will be transformed.  https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/laughterinafrica

The Long Walk Home, Nepal 

Thanks to the amazing efforts of PovertySwap friends and fundraisers the children of a Kathmandhu children's home were all ready to take their arduous journey back to their home villages during the Christmas break.  I am sorry to say that unusual weather conditions for the time of year, high on the Himalayas, saw worried relatives desperately sending messages to say "please don't come, it's too dangerous".  And so the trip had to be postponed.  It will now be October before the next holiday opportunity but the organisers feel sure all the conditions required for the trip will be favourable.  Children are pictured here in their warm winter jackets, purchased by the funds raised, as they prepared for the long awaited journey.  They must have been sorely disappointed but the warmth and love of their carers I am sure comforted them and they will be working at school through this year thinking about how much they will have to tell in October.  We will, of course, keep you updated.  

Winter Jackets Nepal

 

 


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