**We reached our goal!!! But I will leave this open is case we feel like going higher!!!**
The Project -
Hello and welcome to my crowdfunding page!I've come here to raise funds in order to create a home that will provide shelter, support, and guidance for four children that have aged out of the Ethiopian orphanage they grew up in.This transition/foster home is a project based around three girls and one boy from the Kidane Mehret Children's Home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
While most children from the home are adopted before the age of seventeen, occasionally some are not. Like others before them, these four now have to leave the orphanage and enter the adult world rather abruptly. Because, while they are given the best upbringing possible, with sixty-five children at the orphanage, many topics have inevitably been skipped over. Area's such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, finances, relationships, and many more life skills are left untouched. Fortunately, the amount of kids who go through this change in Addis is low. Unfortunately, due to bureaucracy and some bad luck, these four children will face this fate next year.
After looking at adoption options during my last trip to Ethiopia (and being reassured
that single men can't make suitable parents), it was clear that I had to do something else. This is where the idea of creating a transition home came into play. I knew it was important to help them with this change in any way possible, and once I started planning, everything fell into place. The concept I settled on is to create a home for one year (November 2016 - November 2017), where we can live, learn and grow together.
A three bedroom apartment in the Kebena neighborhood
of Addis (close to their schools), will house the children and myself. Over the course of a year I will be there as a mentor and educator, teaching them life skills and keeping them on track to a successful adulthood. And at the same time, while my four are at school, I will continue working as a full time Volunteer at the orphanage they just left.
So with the help of local friends and the international community created here, we will ensure that Maeza, Mezeret, Tesfaye and Desta are not forgotten once leaving the system. This transition house will give them the freedom they've yet to experience in the orphanage, along with the guidance they need to navigate this new chapter.
And that brings me back to why I am here today. Supporting four teenagers is something that I simply cannot afford to do alone. Luckily, the beauty of crowdfunding is that I can reach out to the global community and create this opportunity for everyone to get on board and help change the life of these amazing kids. So please, if you are able, move your mouse to the right and click donate now! And almost as important, share this page! The more people we get together, the more achievable this becomes.
So donate, share and of course, keep reading for much more information about next year.The Reason -
The 'reason' for this project can be most easily divided into two areas:
Guidance/Life Skills -
Simply put, these four individuals have much to learn about the 'outside' world before they can be functioning adults. While there are some areas specific to Ethiopia culture that will require the input of others, there are many seemingly basic skills I can pass on. Chores, 'classes' and individual talks will all be a daily occurrence within our house. It is important to remember that most children at Kidane only leave the compound once or twice a year. Things we take for granted, like finding ripe fruit at the supermarket, cleaning a pot, interest on a savings account, or catching a bus to work, are all skills these four don't yet posses. Over these twelve months we will work together to explore all this new information in a way that is accessible and not overwhelming. Topics will include:
•Relationships and Consent
•Responsibility / Accountability
Over the course of this year a huge goal of mine is to create a safe and stable place that these kids can call home. And, without creating an emotional dependency, I will strive to build a 'mini-family' that we can all enjoy. Some of these guys have been at the orphanage since they were four, and have no extended families. This means that, unlike many others, summer breaks and annual holidays are often spent alone. A main reason I'm not simply raising money to sponsor this group from abroad, is that physically being there allows me to give them at least one year of traditional childhood experiences before they have to grow up. One year where they can stay in their pajamas on Saturday mornings and watch cartoons. One year where they can wake up to pancakes, have a Christmas dinner, or bring friends over to watch a movie.
While this reasoning might not have the same tangible results as teaching them about finances or relationships, I find its intrinsic benefits to be equally as important. To put it bluntly, these four have watched their friends get adopted for twelve years, and for whatever reason, were always left behind. I want to create a home that they can come back to each day knowing that they are wanted; knowing that there is someone waiting for them and caring for them, and that they are loved. From birthday parties, to family dinners, chores, to vacations and sleepovers; the four of them deserve it all.
Before moving on, it is important to make a note about the Ethiopian school system. To sum it up, things are pretty cut throat. If exams are failed in grade ten, children cannot continue high school. If exams are failed in grade twelve, children cannot attend university. So not only are these kids facing the extreme challenge of being thrown into a world they have been sheltered from their whole lives, they also have to do this without falling behind in school. The consequences of failing, and the path that puts you on, is something hard for many of us to imagine. I say this only to highlight the importance of creating a stable home while they are still studying.The Kids (In order of pictures above) -
(To avoid getting their hopes up, for now they only think I am helping them find sponsors)
Hi my name is Meaza Belachew, I am 16 years old, I am grade 10th high school student and I live in Kidane Meheret children’s home (orphanage). I have one older brother, his name is Asrat. My favorite food is pizza and chocolates. I like food very much. I love to play basketball and also I love reading books, watching movie, listening music and drawing (I love nature so much). My favorite animal is dogs and mice. I hate spider. I am not so good in my study, I try every time by studying hard, reading some reference books, but I don’t know why my exam result isn’t good. My teachers like me because I always participate. In 8th grade I got 53.1. % but I passed for high school and I study more and more in grade 9th so I got rank 9/40 in 1st semester and 2nd semester I got rank 7/35, isn’t it good change? Yeah, because I know that I am smart but I want to be more brave. I want to become engineer or animals doctor. For this I need somebody to help me to finish and to achieve my goals after we leave the orphanage.
I speak Amharic and English and I can speak little others, but I really would love to speak perfectly German and France. Maybe someday I will learn those languages and other languages. In my life one thing makes me so happy from anything is helping others. I want to always help others and make them smile when I give them something, weather now or when I become rich.
Hello, my name is Meseret Gemechu. I live in Kidane Meheret children’s home. I am 18 years old, I was born in September 8, 1997. I joined the orphanage when I was 7 years old. Until that time I didn't start school because I was live in countryside with my family. So now I am a grade 10th high school student in kidane Meheret School. In Ethiopia there are 3 types of national exams we take 8th, 10th and 12th so last two year 8th I scored 94% and my highest mark was physics and my lowest mark was Amharic. And we will take the next national exam in this year may, 2015. I want to study accounting to become Accountant.
I live in Kidane meheret orphanage more than 10 years. I have two sisters and one brother. He is the youngest and I am the second, my elder sister name is Kalkidan and Desta is my younger, but my elder sister kalkidan doesn’t live here in the orphanage anymore because some tragedy happened to her and she is back to our relatives.
My favorite subject is maths, English and sport. I love to play soccer and volleyball and Lionel Messi is my favorite football player and I also love to reading books.
As I told you I am 18 years old and in our orphanage when we finish high school we can’t stay and we have to find somewhere to live, it’s time to start live by ourselves. But things will so difficult for us because we don’t have much knowledge about the outside. Even we don’t go out for school because there is middle door between the school and the orphanage.
When I live in the orphanage I am not happy always when my friends leave by Adoption or leave the orphanage, but most of times I am happy and thank God because there are so many children’s in the street and children’s doesn’t go to school in countryside. And I always praying to give me strength and for my future life go in well.
Lots of love with warm regards.
Hello, my name is Tesfaye Wondimu; I live in Kidane Meheret children’s home, I get in this orphanage when my mother and father died when I was little boy and I live in this orphanage more than 12 years. Now I am 16 years old but soon I will be 17 years old and I am in grade 10 at Kokebe Tsibahe high school around our orphanage in Kebena.
When I grow up I want to become pilot and my favorite subject is physics and English and I love playing soccer. Sometimes when the volunteers give us their phone or laptop I love computer and also listening music, I like to watch adventure movies and I read books sometimes at night or when I don’t have things to do. My favorite food is chchbsa (Ethiopian food it’s like pancake with butter and pepper), pizza and avocado juice. I love all kinds of animal except snakes. My favorite color is blue.
In my school I have many friend and three best friends, they are my classmates and we all like play in break times and lunchtimes with my friends. I don’t have any brother or sister but I don’t feel like don’t have because in my orphanage we all see each other like elder or younger brother we all help each other when something happen. We also eat, play, sleep and most of the time spend together even the others which left from Kidane, they come sometimes every Sunday or sometime twice a week to visit us and play with us and they share about the outside more. And we all love you and always miss you and you are brother for life. Thank you everyone who is with Matthew who cares for us and God be with all of you guys.
Lots of Love!!
Hi my name is Desta Gemechu, I am 16 years old. I live in the orphanage of Kidane Meheret Children’s Home. I am grade 10 at Kidane Meheret high school just next door to the orphanage. I love my school and studying, my favorite subject is biology, chemistry and physics. I am always competitive in the school and I love that because it makes me braver and sometimes it’s fun. 8th grade national exam I scored 95.9% and I am also working hard to have a best and better grade than last years. In the future I would like to study medicine, I want to become medical doctor or pharmacist since I was kid. My favorite food is pizza and injera (Ethiopia special food).
In our orphanage there are so many kinds of games but most of us play basketball, volleyball or football, sometimes hide and seek. And I love to play basketball or volleyball but often I spend most of the time by studying. And I like watching movies (adventure, dance and musical movies), sometimes I like reading books. "Hacker” is my favorite book that I have been read, and my favorite color is blue and black.
By the way I have two sisters and one brother and I am the 3rd older child and my brother Berhanu is my younger. But I have made many unforgettable and sweet brothers and sisters in the orphanage. I see all of them just like same blood brothers and sisters from another mother and father, we'll always be there for each other weather things good or bad.
This year will be the last year for us in the orphanage before we are grown and start lives out of the orphanage and make friends with the outsiders (we called peoples who live with their parents or doesn’t live in orphanage we “outsiders”). Its seems nice but scary but I am really happy and thankful people away care for us. LOVE YOU ALL.
There are two other boys who have left the orphanage already but who I expect to be frequent guests at our house. Although they have sponsors who provide accommodation, the type they can afford is not the best. While I cannot officially list these boys as part of my project (for fear they will lose their sponsors), I am confident they will find a place in our family.Me -
So, it's time for my not-at-all-awkward introduction. My name is Matthew Walsh Bade. I am an artist, teacher, traveler and social entrepreneur. I was born in the USA, spent my first three years in France, and then grew up in Portland, Oregon (back in the States). When I turned eighteen I moved to The Netherlands to pursue my Bachelor of Fine Arts at Codarts University. Since then I have danced professionally in The Netherlands, Germany and now Sweden. While working in Europe I continued my education in America via correspondence. In August 2015 I graduated with a 4.0 GPA from the University of Kentucky and now hold a Masters of Arts Administration. While it's hard for me to nail down a single passion, a constant in my life has been travel. I've been lucky enough to visit over 35 countries, perform in twelve and live in a handful. To me travel is the culmination of everything that interests me in life. It is getting out of our comfort zone in order to truly try and learn about the people we share our planet with. It refuels my passion for art, as well as further ignites my interest in humanitarian and developmental work across the globe.
I always find it hard to write about myself because somehow I manage to have so much and so little to say at the same time. I understand that many reading this have no idea who I am, so feel free to send me a message and ask me about anything I've left out.
My favorite color is red. More brown as I get older, but I read an article saying that most people grow out of red as their favorite color and I felt bad so I try and stay loyal. My Connection to Ethiopia/Kidane Mehret -
My relationship with Kidane began out of complete coincidence. In December of 2014 I was backpacking Ethiopia and happened to end up traveling for a few weeks with three volunteers from the orphanage. When we returned to Addis I followed them back to Kidane and spent my last week volunteering. The following summer I returned to Ethiopia to spend five weeks at Kidane Mehret working, teaching dance classes, and writing the capstone report for my graduate degree.
Ethiopia is a country that immediately captured my heart and meeting all the children at the orphanage was just icing on the cake. It is hard to explain why I want to return so often, but I genuinely feel at home when I am back with all the kids in Addis.Volunteer work (while my four are at school) -
As mentioned before, I will be volunteering full time at the Kidane Mehret orphanage. Except for certain periods, most of the children will be at school during the day, which leaves me with the toddlers and babies - holidays, evenings, and weekends mean a full house. Responsibilities include teaching English and basic math, cleaning, feeding and chaperoning. But more than any of this, a volunteers time at Kidane is spent as a friend and mentor. If this year is like my other two times at Kidane, my responsibilities also include: bribing the boys with marbles to make them sit in class, breaking up impromptu wrestling matches, leaving my phone with the teenagers at night so they can play games, letting the girls braid my hair or paint my nails, doing push-ups with the boys, eating meals with them and seeing who can get through their spaghetti the fastest... and so on, and so on.
Additionally, because of the extended length of my stay, I would like to work with the management at Kidane to streamline the volunteer process as well as assist the sisters with some of the area's that could use an update, such as the website and social media presence.Support -
Luckily I was able to make friends of all ages during my trips to Ethiopia and they are eager to assist me with this endeavor. While my language skills should be sufficient enough to get me by, there are times its better to have a have a local do things for you. If it takes a village to raise a child, it surely will take a community to get through next year. Thankfully I have a group of Ethiopian mothers, teachers and friends already on board to lend a hand.
Besides raising funds, securing housing will be one of the bigger challenges I am facing. It is important that I find somewhere in the Kebenah neighborhood as it is close to the children's schools, and close to the orphanage I will be working at during the day. I am looking for a three bedroom house/condominium available for at least one year. My plan now is to travel to Addis in August to search for a home from November on. This is one instance where having a local's help will be imperative. Luckily the receptionist at Kidane has already stepped up to this challenge.
While I want to assure all donors that my budget is as meticulously planned as possible, I have to be honest about the difficulty in that. A local might pay $150.00 USD a month for a three room house; a farenji (foreigner) could easily pay $1500.00 USD a month. The same goes for almost every other expense. Because of the neighborhood and type of project, I am confident that I will pay fair prices for our daily expenses, but also understand I will never pay equal to a local. The amount I have chosen to raise is similar to the salary that an English teacher in Addis would receive. This is enough for one person to live comfortably with a foreign lifestyle. Because we will not be living an extravagant life (car rental, dinners out, internet, international TV, fancy apartment), I believe this is enough to provide for us. The only assurance I can make is that any leftover funds will be donated to the Kidane Mehret orphanage and the children - not kept as profit (though I highly doubt there will a surplus). Sites such as Numbeo estimate monthly living expenses for a western Lifestyle if you would like more context.
In saying this, $15,000 is a starting point. If we just reach it, amazing! But if I see we reach this goal very fast, we can keep going. Again, not to make a profit, but to create a cushion. Like I mentioned earlier, it would be great to have a bit of disposable income in order to do fun things with the kids. But at the same time, it would be nice to have some bumper in case of emergencies in regard to both myself and the children.
All in all, I can only try and be as transparent as possible in this area and reassure you that all the money raised will go directly to funding this project.
What about Visas?
As an American I am eligible for a two year visa in Ethiopia which I can apply for here in Sweden.
$15,000?!?! That's a lot of money!
Yes it is, no questions asked. But the shock wears off depending how we look at it. This supports an entire 'family' for one year. Since I will be volunteering at the orphanage while the children are at school, I will not be generating any income (nor am I allowed to on my visa). These funds not only provide for my basic needs (food, shelter, insurance), but also for the needs of four children (tuition and medical care are government funded). Depending on the enthusiasm of donors such as yourself, we will hopefully have a small amount of disposable income that will allow us to have fun. Things that were normal for us growing up like movie theaters, restaurants, zoo's and museums, were not part of the life in the orphanage. The amount raised here will enable us to explore these new areas (as well as Cook a tasty Christmas dinner, and maybe even take a family vacation). So while the amount itself may seem like a lot, when we look at how far it will go I believe it becomes a much more manageable number.
What about Syria?! Is your project really where our money should be going right now?
The refugee crisis we are currently facing deserves as much attention as it can get, and I implore everyone to get involved. I am working night shifts at our local refugee center here in Malmo and have converted my apartment into a temporary shelter for those in need of a bed and meal. We can all do a little to help those that are suffering right now.
Unfortunately, the situation in Syria is not the only problem we as a global community are facing. And while it is great that our attention is turned to this crisis, it does not mean that others have stopped. I am confident that most of us are able to spread our support and compassion to multiple countries, projects and peoples.
Why crowdfunding (and why youcaring)?
Because I can't do this alone. The finances required are something I simply cannot afford at twenty-five. Thankfully, I believe that most people want to help those facing challenges. Unfortunately, many don't know how, or aren't able to. That's why I want this initiative to be a group effort, and crowdfunding is the best way to achieve this. I am extremely lucky to be able to take a year away from my life, but I understand that not everyone else can do this. So crowdfunding allows people like you to contribute to the greater good in a more accessible way. It is also a reassurance for the children to know how many people care about them and their futures.
There are a few private organizations and grants that fund projects in similar areas, but I have yet to find any funds that apply specifically to what I am doing. Any amount raised or received outside of Youcaring will still be reported on this site.
Lastly, Youcaring, while not the most well known, was easily the best crowdfunding platform for my project because it is geared towards philanthropic endeavors rather than commercial ones. Most importantly, it does not charge the traditional 5% fee that larger sites like Kickstarter and Indegogo do - meaning more of your money goes to those you are trying to help.
What about your job, life, and future?
I am employed at a wonderful company who has shown nothing but support for this project and we have worked out an agreement that gives us each security. Besides employment, I have grown accustomed to moving internationally and am not worried about getting there or back. Of course it will be a huge adjustment in both the beginning and end, but that's life. From a career perspective I'm confident that this year will benefit me a great deal. As a performer, it is imperative that we do not stagnate and continue to experience life in order to bring a deeper understanding to the stage. While it is always a challenge to come back after a leave, I know the experience gained during my time in Ethiopia will far outweigh any negatives. As a social entrepreneur I am excited to see how this experience will change my relationship with social work, the arts, and developing nations. All in all, positives, positives all around.
Are you scared?
For actually being in Ethiopia? Not in the least.
I am aware of the challenges I will face and understand that this year will not be only fun and games, but I have yet to feel any fear in that area. I am, however, scared that this crowdfunding page will fail miserably and I won't raise enough money. I am scared that I won't find the perfect house. I'm even a little nervous that the kids won't like my cooking. But fear of the year itself, waking up with these four as my responsibility each day, is not something I expect to feel. Writing this now I find it hard to put it all to words. There is something deep in my stomach that reassures me this is the right path to take. So in a way yes, I'm scared for certain aspects surrounding the project, but I have no fear for actually being there.
What makes you qualified to raise four Children?
This is a tricky question. The first response that pops into my head is, "What makes anyone qualified to raise any children?" But then I take a step back and realize, with more than a touch of regret, that raise isn't even the right word. While I wish I could have raised these four kids, unfortunately, I wasn't able to. And while the main focus of this year will be teaching life skills and mentoring, these four are actually adults in the eyes of Ethiopia. In saying that, they are 'adults' who have led a very sheltered life, and desperately need guidance.
I have experience in areas such as youth education, development work in Ethiopia, management and health and safety training. But at the end of the day the thing that makes me most qualified is that I love and care for them, and to put it simply, I'm the one who will be there.
What about the language?
All four of the kids are fluent in English, so communication with them is no problem. In order to further integrate into the community where we'll be living, I think it is vital I become as fluent in Amharic as possible. Even though English is quite common in Addis, communication in Amharic opens many doors. However, English will still be the language of choice at home. While the kids are proficient in English, they lack the confidence and speed that they need to move to the next level of fluency. Speaking Amharic will open doors for me, but speaking English will open many more for them - especially as their search for employment begins.
What happens after?
For me, I move back to Sweden and continue where I left off. I don't have any terrible adjustment period and/or a broken heart from moving away from these amazing kids. And we of course stay in contact until I can visit again (hope you caught the sarcastic parts).
For the children, they continue in high school and their lives, now with the skills and experience needed to live independently. But, more specifically, they will find sponsors via YDPor similar projects that will provide assistance throughout university (A large portion of this year will be spent searching for future sponsors to help them on their way once I am gone. More information will come on this process in the blog that will document our year).
Will we be able to hear from you during the year?
Yes! I think communication and transparency are key with any crowdfunding initiative. During the fundraising process I will be posting frequent updates on this site in order to keep donors up to speed on our development. Once in Ethiopia I will maintain a blog that will keep everyone up to date on our little home and its progress. This will be a great way for donors to remain actively involved in our lives by seeing pictures, hearing stories, and offering helpful comments and advice when necessary.
Any other questions? Feel free to ask in the comments section below.