Selamta Family News - February 2018

Success of Q4

You guys blew our expectations out of the water! In September, we launched our first annual Selamta Family Dinner campaign. You exceeded our expectations coast to coast by crushing our $25,000 fundraising goal - $28,099 raised!

On average, our dinner hosts exceeded their individual fundraising goals by 30%. We want to give a shout out to the CauseMic Crew in Oregon who pledged to raise $1,500 but went for $2,500 instead. Mia, in Vermont, thought $500 was a reasonable goal but enjoyed dessert a little more when her dinner guests delivered almost $1200. And then there was Jo Hannah, who partnered with her friend and fellow adoptive parent, Judy, in Massachusetts, to host a dinner and beat their $1000 goal by over 130%!

Click photo to view report

Click photo to view report

THEN, after we published our 2017 annual report where we projected to end the year with a record $395K raised, you did it AGAIN by exceeding all expectations with our Let’s Change Forever Together Year-End Campaign.

We are humbled and thrilled to report that your 2017 donations were just over $408,000!

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Heart & Home

Every child, every family, fully sponsored in 2018 - that’s the goal!

So many of you are already Heart & Home sponsors of our kiddos and families and we could not be more thankful for you!

We love that Selamta is primarily supported by private individuals like you who make our work possible. You are literally changing lives and ending the orphan crisis - one child, one family, at a time.

Heart & Home Sponsor, Olympia, visits her sponsored outreach family on a Vision Trip in December.

Heart & Home Sponsor, Olympia, visits her sponsored outreach family on a Vision Trip in December.

Our family from Curtis Lake Church returned for their annual visit to encourage their sponsor family and our team! 

Our family from Curtis Lake Church returned for their annual visit to encourage their sponsor family and our team! 

The need to expand our programming is urgent. There are too many kids who are still left to the streets and unsafe institutions. But first, we need to see that every child and family currently under our care is fully sponsored. We still need: 

31 Friend Sponsors

15 Mentor Sponsors

4 Family Sponsors

We can’t have too many Neighbors at $25/month.

Once every child, every family is fully sponsored, we can start to receive more kids and families who desperately need the restoration of family, dignity and hope.

And THIS is why Heart & Home Sponsorship matters. THIS Is the difference you are making, one child, one family at a time.


Belay and his younger sisters had a happy childhood, but tragedy struck his family. Belay’s mother got sick and passed away, driving their father to alcoholism, who died soon after.

Brought to Selamta by his uncle at the age of 12, Belay was scared. He had heard horror stories of kids sent to orphanages and was afraid of what his future would hold. He agreed to go only because he wouldn’t be separated from his two younger sisters. But Selamta is not an orphanage.

Belay rediscovered family through Selamta’s Forever Family Program.

Photo by The Archibald Project

Photo by The Archibald Project

Today, Belay is forever grateful. He grew up in a big loving family, earning his degree in Marketing and now watching his siblings follow in his footsteps. He recently launched into independence, running his own small transportation business, and has the financial stability to rent his own home.

Belay's housewarming party with Selamta staff in January 2018

Belay's housewarming party with Selamta staff in January 2018

Now grown and independent, Belay reflects, “I’ve learned the importance of education, learning from my failures and bettering myself from them. Selamta has helped me push myself so I can be the best me. If I never joined Selamta, I wouldn't have made anything of my life.”

Belay’s story is featured in our new Email Welcome Series. You can take a sneak peek at all 3 emails, sent to our new supporters over a two-week period:


Preparation for the Future - December Trip

In December, we were able to bring our US team and our Ethiopian team together around the table (literally, around a physical table!) for professional development and strategic planning going into 2018. That may seem like a no-brainer, but when you work between 2 continents and an ocean, in-person time together is a priceless opportunity!


Dr. Karen Hutcheson, The Center for Family Connections in Kentucky and author of the psychosocial sections of the book, In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence, volunteered to travel with us and provide professional development. She facilitated workshops for our team to embrace the unique strategies necessary to serve children from trauma and the effects of secondary trauma. Her expertise and willingness to connect with our team and families has been a tremendous blessing that we hope is just the beginning of what God has planned for us.


English Summer Camp


Let’s go to Ethiopia! Our 4th annual English Summer Camp is open for volunteer applications. 

This could be the summer that changes everything!

Gather & Give

Our families gather together at the Selamta Community Center everyday. Having a place to belong, feeling the love and support of friends and family, and accessing the resources available to help with whatever life throws your way makes a world of difference.

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This spring, we need your help to fully fund the Selamta Community Center in 2018.

$50,000 will cover all building and utility costs as well as specific programming that takes place in the community center like tutoring, health & wellness clinic, counseling, life skills training, computer lab internet access, spiritual development, and family gatherings & celebrations.

The online fundraising campaign kicks off March 1st and runs through the end of the month.

If you’d like to spice things up by providing a matching gift to double online donations, email

Shop Selamta

Spring is in the air! So we thought it was time to update our Shop Selamta selections with new handmade Ethiopian jewelry from our partner, Lila Products, and new t-shirt designs on the softest t’s we can find! Check it out and proudly display your family, dignity and hope!

Birthday Fundraising

Happy Birthday to YOU! Have you ever wanted to do something super cool for your birthday that goes beyond cake and candles?

Ben Beisswenger, Selamta Board Member, gave away his milestone birthday and raised almost $20,000 for our families! Mary Jean gave away her birthday to raise $1000 for the launch our our Micro Enterprise Development Fund. And Andrea raised $140 on her birthday just by asking friends on social. These guys crushed it and you can too!

Give away your birthday this year so we can celebrate even more birthdays at Selamta!

Making an online birthday fundraising page is easy and you’ll be amazed by how many people want to celebrate YOU by donating to something you love.

Ben celebrated his birthday with our families in Ethiopia! 

Ben celebrated his birthday with our families in Ethiopia! 

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follow us on instagram for daily updates!  

Realizations and Redemption

A blog by Tess Lundy

This year has been one of those crazy, uncertain, grace filled years—but oh so good.

U.S. team: Marisa, Me, Abby, & Whitney

U.S. team: Marisa, Me, Abby, & Whitney

My story with Selamta started at the end of August when I had a meeting with the U.S. Executive Director Marisa Stam. She offered me a quarter time position as the Social Media Coordinator (something that got pushed on the backburner with the staff’s crazy agendas running a nonprofit with 3 people U.S. side)!! My plans I had for the year had changed, and I believe that God has knowledge that surpasses my understanding so my answer was an easy YES, and I just trusted that He already had this all planned out.  

Fast-forward to the end of November and I said YES again. This time it was to go to Ethiopia, to see with my own eyes the work Selamta is doing. We left on November 28th for Africa.

I really didn’t set any expectations for this trip.

All I can say is that I left with my eyes opened and a heart full of love for people I just met.

Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives wont have a title until much later.
— Bob Goff
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Hollywood and Disney have definitely given me skewed visions and fears of what the country would look like.

To my surprise there were no lions walking down the roads and it was not hot—I actually had to wear my winter coat most days. (Side note: I’m from Florida so when you can’t wear shorts the weather is considered frigid.)

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I was pleasantly surprised with the visuals I immediately saw. Ethiopia was a lot cleaner than I assumed and I felt like I was stepping back into time. Even though no one said it, I know our van was playing a mix of Mario Kart and Frogger with the other cars and pedestrians. As we were zooming through the city you would see donkeys and horses carrying materials down the road with all the busy traffic. Hiya Horsey! 

Most buildings that were under construction had wood scaffolding instead of metal (this is how I imagined Pyramids were made, so it just seemed like such an ancient technique). Altogether I can see and gather that the men and women here know what hard work is, and their laborious tasks could be seen.

We finally made it to the Selamta Community Center!


If you know me, you know that I am quite the talker, and whatever is in my head I just ask or say.

One of the most comforting things in Ethiopia was that English was a widely common language. This made it extremely easy to ask questions and understand people on a deeper level so much faster.


My first BIG eye-opening moment was when were carried our bags up to the third floor where our rooms were. There was a little balcony and we all walked out to take a peek. Looking around I was no where short of the word baffled.

Soaking everything in, it all suddenly made sense.

I quickly spit out, “so like all the homes aren’t connected in a certain area because this definitely looks like a normal neighborhood to me.”

There may or may not have been a slight chuckle but the answer was “YES, they get to live in society and be “normal”.”  Even after working with Selmata for several months their family based model literally at the moment just hit me. These kids get to grow up in a normal neighborhood, in a normal home not separated behind some compound orphanage wall.

I practically heard this almost every week and I still didn’t get it. (insert mind-blown emoji)

If you're not familiar with the Selamta model…


Each family is fully integrated and active in their COMMUNITY, breaking social stigmas about orphans. No child ages out. Independence is determined by readiness, employment and self-sufficiency, not a birthdate. One size does not fit all. We focus on the needs of each individual child. Real Family. Real Love.

Soon after, I went downstairs and it was as if God was making sure I really did grasp what was happening here.

3 of the 4 cuties I met downstairs

3 of the 4 cuties I met downstairs

There were four little kids playing by the kitchen, and I thought they were all Selamta kids visiting the community center. Wrong. Only two of the kids were actually a part of Selamta, and the other two were their best friends in the neighborhood. Like seriously my brain neurons were making all the connections. I was in love. These kids get to be kids, have friends, go to school, not feel separated. Apart from overcoming trauma these kids have experienced, they get to do it in such a loving environment. Wow.

My mind was blown and heart overwhelmed.

Each night we had the privilege to go meet different families and eat dinner with them. I think they might have to create a new word for hospitality because their friendliness and generosity towards us was off the charts. Being in the homes was an intimate time to see how they do life together. Coffee, cards, food, laughter, and stories. Hearing hope from these kids with their goals and accomplishments were moments I cherished. I am thankful for people who shared their stories and shaped my life by inspiring me, yet they don’t even know their impact.


With all the love and good that was happening in the lives of the kids at Selamta my eyes were blind to the orphan crisis that is taking place in Ethiopia. Our last weekend there really helped me see what the flip side of not being in a home looked like.

We decided to go hike a mountain with some of the Selamta kids. This is where it hit me. Our kids came from experiences just like what I was starting to witness. The base of the mountain had lots of chaos happening. I am not sure if every child there was an orphan, but there were kids without clothes and ones you just wanted to hug and wipe their noses. I was told that some of the kids were holding water bottles containing gasoline, that they would smell to try to stay warm and curb their appetites. It was a broken mess. It made me so thankful for the kids that are a part of Selamta and now get to experience freedom.

Sweet, sweet Kalkidan  

Sweet, sweet Kalkidan


The moment that was the tip of the iceberg for me that day was from watching a little princess who just joined the Selamta family named Kalkidan. Kalkidan was rescued from the country side. She is only twelve and had been working as a house maid in an unsafe environment. If she went back to the countryside, she was going to be sold off to be married and who knows what else could have happened to her. He biological brother is in a Selamta home and after they found her, they brought her to Selamta and are now reunited.

I believe that God hides His most precious treasures in difficult and painful experiences. 

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Kalkidan was a treasure to watch climb that mountain. It was her first time and she had a ball. She would go on running spurts and get farther ahead of me and turn around and hand me a chunk of wild flowers she collected. She would skip off, giggle, and grab my hand. I broke into tears when she playfully dove into the barley field, just rolling around and laughing. I just though to myself, you deserve this. Kalkidan gets to experience being a kid and the innocence of that was beautiful.

I don’t know why she had to lose her family, and experience the hardships of her past, but all I can see is something beautiful being born now. My heart ached and wanted that for all the other kids in the world, who are just like her, to experience love and freedom. Seeing kids reach their mountain top changed me.

The work of Selamta is beautiful and redemptive. Taking kids from a place of being hopeless to rescued is such a crazy thing to witness. God’s hand is at work and I cannot wait and see what is to come. Jesus is in the business of changing lives.

Beauty in the mess

Beauty in the mess

Get a little inspired, eh?

Selamta Family Dinners are happening from coast to coast, and into Canada.

Hear from Cori, who just hosted a dinner with her foodie friends! 


Tell us about your Selamta Family Dinner:

"My dinner was elegant and heartfelt, with seventeen close friends and their families. A few volunteer hobby chefs and I created a number of classic Ethiopian dishes, which was an amazing experience. Following new recipes and introducing new flavors to the group was really fun. Everyone LOVED the food, including our wine pairings, popcorn, dessert, and a special cocktail made from hibiscus tea I brought home from Addis. I was able to share my experiences when I visited Selamta, but more importantly their mission and how the model was different, and special. I can’t wait to do it again next year!"


How did you encourage your friends to join you?

"I have a group of foodie friends and knew they’d be up for the adventure! I wanted to make sure they were getting their money’s worth so to speak, so priced the plate at $50 and added a bunch of extras to encourage buying a plate. We sourced many of the extras like decorations, cake, venue, etc for free which meant my donation could focus more on food and drink." 

What did your friends think? 

"They had a great time at the dinner! Everyone was really supportive of the Selamta mission, and a few were in tears looking at the pictures I had printed and reading the material provided." 

Final thoughts?

"Just go for it!! It’s a great excuse to get your group of friends and family together to share a meal, enjoy each other’s company, and raise some money for an amazing cause." 

All the things! Selamta Family Dinners and then some...

It's official! Selamta Family Dinners are happening worldwide. 

September 15th (TODAY!) - October 15th! 


Some of our supporters were so excited to get started they already hosted their dinner in Rhode Island. Check out Elizabeth and Ruth's experience hosting a Selamta Family Dinner in Providence. They included some Ethiopian dishes but that's not a requirement. Whether it's PB&J, pizza delivery or a 7 course spread, it's YOUR dinner for YOUR friends and family that supports OUR Forever Families. Register to host a dinner today and we'll get your Host Kit in the mail ASAP. If you can't host until after October 15th, contact us and we'll help! 

Florida Friends - The Selamta Family Dinner Event scheduled for September 23rd will be rescheduled due to recovery from Hurricane Irma. We'll keep you posted!


Speaking of Hurricane Irma, our Florida Headquarters was hit hard on Sunday, September 10th. Located in Lake Placid, FL, our county, Highlands County, was one of the worst hit by the historic storm. As of this post, power is still out in 75% of the county and the clean up is extraordinary. School has been cancelled through most of next week already. We ask for your prayers and support as we work with our neighbors to put things back together.

Taking lessons from our Selamta Families who face power outages and overwhelming challenges on a regular basis, we are pulling together, sharing what we have and loving each other back to wholeness. 

Restoring wholeness and holistic care is the hallmark of Selamta Family Project.

We've had an incredible opportunity offered to Selamta Youth, Yezena. She was invited to participate in a summer program at Brewster Academy in Wolfboro, NH. She was welcomed and had an amazing experience. While spending the summer months in the US, Yezena was invited to represent girls around the world who now have access to education through our partner, She's the First at their Annual STF Summit in New York City. 


After returning to Maine with her amazing Heart & Home Family Sponsors, Matt Donovan & Anne Merra, Yezena was offered a full scholarship to attend Brewster Academy in the fall. She was THRILLED with the offer and started the process to get her travel visa converted to a student visa. But as quickly as we celebrated this extraordinary gift, Yezena became ill. What we first thought was a stomach bug, quickly turned more serious and Yezena was taken to Boston Children's Hospital. They discovered that she had serious issues with her kidney and urinary system. We are thankful to report that Yezena has gone through 2 surgeries to repair her system and is currently recovering at Boston Children's. It's an absolute miracle that Yezena was in the US to receive this care right when she needed it. We ask for your prayers and support as Yezena continues to heal. We also ask for your prayers and support as we walk through the visa process so Yezena can fulfill the tremendous opportunity offered to receive an education at Brewster Academy. 

Throwback pic of Menelik House celebrating in 2008 (ET 2001). 

Throwback pic of Menelik House celebrating in 2008 (ET 2001). 

We want to wish all of our Selamta Families and Friends a very Happy New Year - Ethiopian New Year!

It's now 2010 in Ethiopia. Learn a little more about dates and time in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is such an extraordinary place! And we're privileged to serve some of the most extraordinary people on the planet! 


We don't take for granted the gifts and opportunities presented to Selamta and the families we serve. You make this work possible. You are changing lives and changing our world, one Forever Family at a time. 

Rhode Island Kicks Off Selamta Family Dinners

Guest post by Heart & Home Sponsor and Volunteer, Elizabeth Mitchell

Providence Rhode Island - Dinner co-hosts Elizabeth Mitchell and Ruth Kiros pictured middle

Providence Rhode Island - Dinner co-hosts Elizabeth Mitchell and Ruth Kiros pictured middle

I'd say that our Selamta fundraising dinner was a huge success!


Huge returns for our effort, huge amounts of fun had by all, and huge servings of delicious Ethiopian food! I Overall, I'm impressed by how easy it was to set up. (Granted, I was not the person up until 2am preparing food the night before...ahem...Ruth.) I reached out to my coworker Ruth soon after receiving the original solicitation email -- we had recently discovered our shared connection to Selamta and I figured that it would be a lot easier to set up a fundraising dinner with a co-host than by myself. (Expert tip: it was.) Ruth/her mom graciously offered to make some home-cooked Ethiopian food, which really was all we needed to make it an "event." After was just a matter of setting up the fundraising page (here - so easy!) and sending out a few emails. 

We set an ambitious fundraising goal of $1000 -- we only would have hit if if we had the maximum attendance (20 people) and they all donated on the high end of our suggested range ($25-$50). (We originally set the suggestion at $50, but we didn't want to set expectations for the dinner to be way fancier than our plans!) So we were thrilled to raise $800+!! We invited mostly coworkers. I added some local friends in Providence and Ruth invited the Ethiopian community in Boston. We were hoping for a few more people to come in person -- but a smaller crowd made it easier for everybody to learn how to use the injera and to share their favorite travel stories! It really helped break through some of the barriers we have as coworkers! 


Some suggestions I'd make to anybody planning an event: invite as many people as you can (we perhaps limited ourselves by focusing mostly on coworkers), call around to find St. George's beer well in advance (it was impossible to find day of), and double-knot your balloons -- otherwise you'll be sad that they fly away before the event starts!

And really my final advice is -- just do it! It seemed scary and overwhelming at first to host a fundraising dinner (so adult!) -- but once we just set up the fundraising page and set expectations that people would be eating off paper plates while sitting on a couch, it seemed so much more manageable. Just a group of friends hanging out -- and it gave our coworkers and friends a great opportunity to demonstrate just what awesome people they are with their willingness to donate to such a great cause! 

We look forward to hearing about the success of more events!!

It's Summer Camp Time!

We’ve completed week one of English Summer Camp at Selamta Family Project, and it has been AWESOME. A total of 49 youth have come out to Selamta’s Community Center for morning and afternoon sessions of camp, making the hub and heart of Selamta the best place to be.  

Every day our camp is led by 11 phenomenal volunteers, and our kids practice grammar, conversational English, learn about good habits and character, and have a great time with friends while expressing their creativity.   

A few thoughts from our volunteers:

“I liked how eager the kids were to learn. They really actually liked it, so that was cool.”

“It was rewarding, because they were so thankful to have us as teachers.”  

“It was great to watch students open up and speak more about their goals, what they value and their family life.”

If you’ve been to Selamta before, you know that evenings spent in family homes are the very best part of the day. This is where you really get to know our kids and families, and see what life is really like at Selamta. Dinner includes not only delicious food, but laughter, card games and Amharic lessons.

One group of volunteers were convinced to teach the family the macarena by Ermias, who said, “You can’t say no. My mother wants to learn, and you have to respect your elders.”

“I feel like I’m at home because the kids are welcoming, inviting and inclusive.”


Selamta Family News - May 2017

International Day of the Family 

Our new favorite holiday is Monday, May 15th. We're celebrating International Day of the Family by inviting our community of supporters to bring a meal to the table. A small gift of $25 will provide two meals for a family of 10. 

Give a gift that honors someone you love for Mother's Day or International Day of the Family. As you make a donation, simply click "Dedicate my donation in honor or in memory of someone" to select one of these ecards and write a personalized message to your honoree. 

Beautiful Transitions

Change is never easy but it can be beautiful. Last month, we welcomed Tamrat Kebede to lead Selamta Family Project in Ethiopia as our Ethiopian Country Director. He's been amazing! 


But in order to welcome Tamrat, we had to wish Abel Solomon well as he moved into a new career. The beauty of Selamta is that family is more than a job title. Abel may not work at Selamta anymore but he will always be family. 

The crazy thing about family is that it can grow exponentially and that only makes it better. This spring, our family blossomed when a media missions team from The Archibald Project joined us to learn more about Selamta and document, in photos, written words, podcasts and videos, what Selamta is all about. 

We believe Selamta has the potential to serve many more children and families in the years to come. The team from TAP is using their gifts to share our story with the world. 

"Mariamawit is bright, talented, valuable and is irreplaceable in her family."

 Allie Chandler

"During the first weeks of becoming their mom, every night Wude would lay in a twin bed with the 4 and 8 year old sisters, hold them close as they fell asleep and helped heal their mourning hearts."

The Archibald Project

"Nati and Surafel are such typical brothers. They argued about who would be on which teams, and cheered for the other when they scored. They even invited one of their neighborhood friends to join in as well."

Allie Chandler

"In Ethiopia a seat doesn’t mean room for one more, it often means room for two or three more. This is similar to what I see in Selamta… always a way to bring more to the table. To feed more, to educate more, to care for the health needs of more, to serve more, to LOVE more."

Shannon Kirk

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Who wouldn't want to meet these kids and families in person, right? Well, you're in luck! If you're up for a little adventure, a whole lotta love and the best coffee on the planet, check out our Take a Trip options and see what could best fit your schedule. 

English Summer Camp

This is the 3rd summer our kids will have the chance to sharpen their conversational English skills with native English speakers. One of the most challenging things for our youth entering college is having the ability to communicate effectively in English. Their natural language, Amharic, is beautiful and complex. But to compete for the best jobs in Addis and the global marketplace, excellent English skills open many doors. 

If you're looking for something to do in August, JOIN US! 

Showing Up - Family Sponsors, Aidan and Midori


Aidan and Midori, from New Hampshire, have been Heart & Home Family Sponsors of Hosanna House since 2009. They are also parents to several grown biological children and their adopted son from Ethiopia, Behaylu. Every time they visit Ethiopia they spend time with Hosanna House and continue to build relationships. They stay connected through emails, photos and social media when they're back in the US. Because they consider Hosanna House a part of their family, they are eager to share Selamta with the people around them. We are thankful for our many sponsors who are a part of the larger Selamta Family.


It's with heavy hearts that we share the passing of Biruk Alemu Nedi. Biruk is a beloved son and brother of Axum House. His passing leaves us with so many emotions.  We ask for your thoughts and prayers as our Selamta families remember Biruk and the privilege of knowing and loving him.


Love and loss

It's with heavy hearts that we share the passing of Biruk Alemu Nedi.

Biruk is a beloved son and brother of Axum House. His passing leaves us with so many emotions.

In Biruk's short 17 years, he faced many challenges including the loss of his parents and shining shoes on the streets of Addis to get by. But in Spring of 2014, Biruk joined our Selamta family and was given the chance to be a kid again. He was an amazing soccer player and brought joy to those around him. 

The community of Selamta and the surrounding neighborhood has gathered to remember Biruk and support his family. We ask for your thoughts and prayers as our Selamta families remember Biruk and the privilege of knowing and loving him. 

Loss and grief are complicated, but most importantly, we remember that Biruk lived and is loved. He will always be an important member of our family. 

2014, the year Biruk arrived at Selamta

2014, the year Biruk arrived at Selamta

2016 soccer champions

2016 soccer champions

August, 2016

August, 2016

2017 soccer game

2017 soccer game

January 2017, Biruk hiking the Selamta mountain alongside friends and brothers

January 2017, Biruk hiking the Selamta mountain alongside friends and brothers

Biruk's Axum family: Amanuel, Selam, Tefared, Auntie Genet, Biruk, Mahlet, Mama Bichawork, Tigist Not pictured: Fetlework, Yoseph

Biruk's Axum family: Amanuel, Selam, Tefared, Auntie Genet, Biruk, Mahlet, Mama Bichawork, Tigist

Not pictured: Fetlework, Yoseph