BIG News at Selamta!

It is with a full heart and extraordinary gratitude that we thank Abel Solomon for 9 years of executive leadership as our Ethiopian Director at Selamta. Abel has decided to move on from his role at Selamta but he and his family will always be an important part of our Selamta Family! 

Pictured above, Abel and his family are surrounded by our Selamta Families. Our kids planned and organized a surprise party for Abel complete with skits, songs, dancing and delicious food. It was a beautiful tribute and we will always be grateful to Abel for his dedication to Selamta!

It's our honor to introduce you to Tamrat Kebede!

Tamrat has joined Selamta Family Project to lead our team as our Ethiopian Director. Tamrat brings tremendous experience to this position and has a heart for, and personal understanding of, what it's like to be considered an orphaned child. 

Tamrat is a family man, married with 3 sons and a baby girl on the way. When asked why he wanted to do this job he said,

"It's a calling. It demands your heart. When I asked why the previous country director left I was surprised he had been there for 10 years. This passion drives me to want to be a part of Selamta. God is giving me this opportunity."

My Selamta Story

by Melissa Joy Bush

"Whew! God gave me Africa at just the right time in my life!  I was headed down a one-way me street and God turned me around (or East) and sent me to Africa!

I had an opportunity to travel to the home of Selamta in Ethiopia.  From the moment we walked onto the property, the families opened their hearts, homes and hands.  I was there to teach English summer camp to several students who were eager to speak conversational English.  These students were on summer break, but chose to be a part of something special.  They came to camp each day to learn skills/strategies that would propel them towards their goals in life.  They were eager learners!  I was the most eager of all of them.  I realized quickly that I was the student - not the teacher.  These children taught me more about the love of Christ by how they welcome others despite social, physical and economic backgrounds.  They love unconditionally and refer to each and everyone as their brothers and sisters.  Isn't that what we are?  Brothers and sisters in Christ.  They're living this message out in Africa.

Joy and Surafel

Joy and Surafel

If given the chance, I would have loaded each one of those sweet babies up and brought them back on a plane with me to the US.  Is that God's best though?  Why would I want to take these treasures away from such loving mama's who care, love and nurture them everyday?  I couldn't do that to them.  So... I did the next best thing.  I chose to sponsor one.  I did.  One very cute boy named Surafel.  I always wanted a boy. God answers prayers in the neatest ways!  

We decided to do what the mama's of Selamta do everyday.  We opened our heart, home and hands to Surafel.  We accept him as one of ours and display pictures of him in our home.  We opened our hands financially to help supply food, shelter and education for him.  God took me to Africa, but Africa came home to us.  We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.  God's love stretches across mountains, oceans and valleys.

Join with me in an effort to create a lending library and provide funds for English language & literacy resources for these emerging English readers and speakers of Selamta.  Please open your heart, home and hands today!"



Together we can fund Selamta's Community Center and make sure our Selamta families have ALL the enrichment they need for Bright Futures.  

Selamta Family News - February 2017

2017 is already an exciting year for our Selamta Families!

In December Yezena, age 15, was brought to the US by our partner, She's the First, to take part in Glamour's Women of the Year Awards. Yezena shared her hopes for the future while representing girls around the world who now have access to education and bright futures. She was also able to tour US high schools and universities on the east coast while visiting many friends and Selamta supporters.  


Selamta Ambassadors - Emily and Lily served our families and staff in December and January by helping with college applications and written English language skills. Both made a lasting impact on our kids and staff and their projects live on as we wait for the first acceptance letter from US universities. Bilal, Haile Selassie House, is our first Selamta youth to apply to study abroad. Bilal took the SAT in the spring and has always been a strong student. He hopes to study world economics.  


Let Your Light Shine Bags - This Christmas, celebrated on January 7th in Ethiopia, all of our Selamta youth in Forever Families and our Outreach Program, received gift bags from our extended family at First Baptist Church in Lake Placid, FL. Each bag was stuffed with something special for that child along with notes of encouragement and prayer to remind them that friends halfway around the world are thinking of them and praying for them everyday.


Computer Lab - Through the extraordinary generosity of Steve and Claudia Franklin and Red Cross Ethiopia, our Selamta Community Center is now equipped with a fully-functioning computer lab including 9 work stations and internet access. This computer lab is a gateway to bright futures focusing on English language development, keyboarding, Critical Thinking online courses through Mawi Learning and expanded educational opportunities with our partner, She's the First.

Sami and Meski, 1st year university students

University Student Laptops - We are thankful to our incredible supporters who made it possible for our university students to have laptops. To the Barry Family who put the challenge on the table, for each person that sponsored a laptop at the Donovan's dinner party, and the volunteers it took to purchase, prepare and hand carry them to Ethiopia, we want to say a massive thank you! Twelve students now have academic resources at their fingertips to help them reach success. 


 "This laptop will be of great importance for me. I will be able to copy and read materials from other sources. Also, instead of printing materials, I will be able read using this laptop. That will save money and time. It will be easier for me to take notes. With this laptop I will improve my results. Thank you so much!" - Sami


Honor and Celebrate

Selamta has always been blessed with the most extraordinary people to serve our families. Even when a team member moves on, they stay connected to our families because the relationships they build are real and lasting. We want to honor the contributions of former team members, Dureti  and Yonas. They are treasured family members and all of us at Selamta would not be where are without their leadership and expertise.

We are thrilled to welcome our newest team members to the Selamta Family:

       Habtie  Muluye - Ethiopia Assistant Director

       Habtie  Muluye - Ethiopia Assistant Director

Please join us in congratulating Habtie Muluye, promoted to Assistant Director. Habtie has been an incredible part of our team as Outreach Social Worker. Habtie's dedication to our families, leadership among his peers and strong communication skills are the perfect combination for success in this position. 



What's Next? 

The Archibald Project - Their media team is taking a trip to Selamta. Look for great stories, images and videos coming out in March - follow Selamta and TAP on Instagram

English Summer Camp - Don't miss this opportunity to serve in Ethiopia! Not only will you get to hang out with the coolest kids on the planet and eat all the amazing food, your gift to our families is your language. Conversational English skills are the secret sauce to bright futures for our youth. Join us for 2, 4 or 6 weeks to be a small group counselor for English Summer Camp. Space is limited and we're accepting applications through May.

Semester Break Shenanigans - Our Forever Families showcased their smarts at our Question & Answer Competition during semester break in February. Each house nominated 2 youth to compete.  Surafel, of Tewodros House, took home the honors! 

Amazon Smile - Did you know that you can support Selamta while you shop on Amazon? Log into Amazon Smile, select Selamta Family Project and start shopping! Amazon will donate a portion of your shopping cart to Selamta. Doing good has never been so easy. 

2016 Volunteer Recognition

2016 has been a tremendous year of growth and development for Selamta Family Project - which we celebrated in our 2016 Annual Report. Let us be clear though: none of our success would have been possible without our extraordinary team of volunteers.

We are convinced daily that we have the very best supporters imaginable. They share their time and talents to support us into success. While it takes many hands, this year we would like to establish our Annual Volunteer of the Year Recognition, and highlight two individuals who have served in extraordinary ways. They make Selamta better today than it was yesterday, and ensure Bright Futures for tomorrow.

We are thrilled to introduce our 2016 Volunteers of the Year! 

Maya Cameron Gilsey - US Volunteer, social media coordinator

Maya traveled to Selamta in 2014 on a two week service trip with her boyfriend Sam, and they have been sold-out for Selamta ever since. For 3 years running, she and Sam have fundraised for sponsorship, to invest in the lives of our youth.

18 months ago, Maya took the initiative to develop our Instagram account, and has built it from the ground up. We have grown to more than 3,700 followers, and it is a space where the heart of Selamta is evident and celebrated. 

If you haven’t yet, check out her work on Instagram @selamtaproject. You'll find a personal and inspiring reflection of Selamta, and Maya pours out love and care in her work, just as our families do so well.

Through Instagram, we’ve been able to effectively: 

  • Keep our current supporters involved
  • Spread awareness and meet new people
  • Begin new Heart & Home Sponsorships
  • Develop new organizational partnerships
  • Engage in the social media community

Trish Perkins - on-site Volunteer, Salesforce Expert

Trish came to Selamta through the Girlforce Project, a collaborative of women with IT experience who are trained Salesforce professionals. She first traveled to Selamta in February of 2016, where she got right to work developing streamlined systems and integrations for Selamta to use within our own Salesforce database. 

She returned to Ethiopia for four weeks in October and November, working alongside and training our Ethiopian staff. The internet connection in Ethiopia is inconsistent at best, oftentimes leaving websites like inaccessible. Trish utilized innovative solutions and equipped our local staff with work-arounds, so that our conditions do not determine our progress and we can continue to move forward as an organization with clear communication and data integrity.  

Maya and Trish, THANK YOU for the heart that you have poured out into Selamta this year.

If their stories of impact have inspired you to Take a Trip or Volunteer, contact us through the footer below. 

What's up at Selamta? - September Newsletter

English Summer Camp

This summer, our youth enjoyed 5 weeks of immersion in English through our English Summer Camp. Andrea Barahona, grad student at the University of Florida and She's the First campus chapter president, served as our Summer Camp Director developing curriculum and overseeing the fun. 

This year's theme was The Arts. Through active learning, our youth developed new vocabulary and performed three plays during the final week of camp. Our volunteers had the chance to share their skills and build relationships with our families. Consider joining us in 2017!

First University Graduates!

Please join us in congratulating Belay and Mekides on their tremendous accomplishments! Belay earned his degree in Business Marketing. Mekides earned her degree in Psychology.

The Future is so Bright.

It's been amazing to celebrate the success of Belay and Mekides but that's only the beginning. We have 5 Selamta Forever Family Youth and 3 Outreach Youth who will continue their university education this fall. We are thrilled to announce that 7 Selamta youth will join their brothers and sisters in higher education in October. What was a dream when Selamta was born is becoming a reality, changing futures and effecting generations to come.

Epic Road Trip - Selamta Summer Tour

We logged over 7000 miles across the US this summer to meet with donors, introduce Selamta to new communities and make connections on college campuses. It was wonderful to see the outpouring of love for our families! The energy and enthusiasm from the Ethiopian/American community and young people fueled every mile of the 6 week journey!

New Additions in Outreach

This year, Selamta is growing through our Outreach Program. We know that supporting and empowering at-risk families prevents more children from becoming orphaned and abandoned. Through education and employment opportunities families can move from crisis to self-sufficiency. Please welcome Iman, age 8, Imran, age 3, and their parents Sadia and Abdureuf to our Selamta Family!

Launch to Independence

Abel has been a part of Selamta Family Project since 2008 and launched into financial independence this year. When Abel was young, he transitioned from our Children's Center back to his biological family through the reunification of our Outreach Program. With the generous support of Heart & Home sponsorship, Abel received a quality education and was encouraged to become a thriving young adult. Today, Abel works for Ethiopian Airlines and looks forward to a Bright Future with his mother and grandmother before starting a family of his own. 

Before I joined Selamta, I had been living in a very dangerous village. It was not safe at all. Many children would not have access to education. But, as soon as I joined Selamta, my life began to take a different turn; I got access to everything a child needs to develop. It made me a better person.
Before I joined Selamta, I had been living in a very dangerous village. It was not safe at all. Many children would not have access to education. But, as soon as I joined Selamta, my life began to take a different turn; I got access to everything a child needs to develop. It made me a better person.


Selamta Family 5K

Registration is open for our Selamta Family 5K the first weekend of October. You can participate at one of local events or wherever you are. This year we're in over 5 physical locations:

Equipping and Empowering

We have an incredible team of women from Quilts Beyond Borders in Ethiopia teaching our moms how to sew on our Selamta US machines for two weeks. Our Moms are naturals and taking to the projects very quickly. Six of our ladies are going through a train-the-trainer session so they can pass on their new skills to other Moms, Aunties, kids and Outreach Families who might be interested to learn. Sewing, combined with our soap making skills training that will continue next month, could  become income generating activities in the future. In November, a team from Links International will work with our families and staff to teach finance and small business planning. 

Get to Know our Kids and Families!

Become a Heart & Home Sponsor to build relationships, encourage our youth and support the transformational work of Selamta Family Project. 

Photo by Kate Lord Photography.

Photo by Kate Lord Photography.

When We #Realize5, We Know Hope is Alive

Join us for Selamta's Family 5K | October 8-9, 2016

This year, Selamta Family 5K's theme is #Realize5 

It's about both awareness and action

With 5 million orphans in Ethiopia—or 13% of the child population—we have to acknowledge the enormity of this Ethiopian orphan crisis (awareness) and make Selamta's Model the compassionate solution (action). 

Together, we realize that if we come together for 5Ks in 5 cities, we can make an enormous impact in the lives of Ethiopian orphaned children. 

In the spirit of 5s, here's how Selamta is making a huge difference in the lives of its children and families.

5 Contributing Factors to Ethiopia's Orphan Crisis

  1. Extreme poverty
  3. Other poverty-related diseases like tuberculosis
  4. Lack of education
  5. Insufficient or unstable income

5 Ways Selamta Realizes the Dreams of Ethiopian Orphan Children

  1. We give orphans a new, loving Forever Family.
  2. We keep biological siblings together.
  3. We ensure children are embraced by their community.
  4. We provide a quality education and support youth through high school and university graduation.
  5. We launch healthy young adults into independence.

5 Testimonials That Show Selamta Love is Real

I was leading a bad and unsafe life before I joined Selamta. After I became part of the family, I got access to quality education, medical services and psychosocial support. In short, I wouldn’t be the same without Selamta. It made me a better person.
— Selam Ashenafi, High School Graduate 
It is a loving family. I can’t even express it
— Getu Tadesse, University Student
Selamta is unique, where you do not need a biological mother, auntie, sister and brother; We are all part of a loving family. Every child grows with a strong sense of belonging and togetherness.
— Belay Asfaw, College Graduate
It is my home on which my base is built. It changed me.
— Abel Mesfin, Launched Youth
Selamta is important in that it takes kids from the streets and changes their lives. It provides them with holistic support and love so that they fully integrate with the community in which they are living.
— Mekdes Chernet, College Graduate

5 Amazing Selamta Achievements In 2016

  1. We're adding a new family to our Outreach Program every month.
  2. 11 students have graduated from high school.
  3. 5 students will continue their university education this fall.
  4. 2 Selamta youth graduated from college in July.
  5. 4 Selamta youth launched from our financial support into independence.  

There are so many kids in need of a loving, stable family right now.

YOU can be the difference! Join us October 8-9, 2016 for Selamta's Family 5K in city near you—or anywhere you bring people together.

Register Today!

Oh, the places we'll go!

By Marisa Stam, Executive Director

Today is your day.
You're off to great places.
You're off and away! - Dr. Seuss

We've reached the season of graduations, celebrations and exciting events. And Selamta is no exception! 

Today, we're excited to share our new website with you! Take some time to explore it, get to know our families and take advantage of new ways you can get involved. 


Family is the foundation of everything we do at Selamta. To emphasize that point, we've developed our Heart & Home Sponsorship Program. A house is just walls but a home is where healing, hope and love fill the voids. As a Heart & Home Sponsor, you become a part of our global family connecting with our program, a child or a Forever Family in a meaningful way. 

I am happy to be able to support my child, Tigist, in the Selamta Family Project. Developing a long-term connection with her and seeing her grow has been an amazing experience. 
— Letha Mills - Heart & Home sponsor and former Selamta board member


What began as a dream 10 years ago has become a reality. Selamta is privileged to be raising up Ethiopia's leaders of tomorrow. We are thrilled to celebrate our soon-to-be college graduates:

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. - Dr. Seuss

Belay and Mekides will graduate from Hope University and Gondar University, respectively, in July. Please join us in congratulating them on their enormous achievements!


Class of 2016

These students, brothers and sisters have achieved something extraordinary and they are world changers ready for bright futures. In 2000, only 4% of adults in Ethiopia 20 years and older completed secondary school. (Source: EDHS 2000) Today, we are thrilled to announce that 11 Selamta students will flip their tassel and walk across the stage at the end of the school year.

You'll be on your way up! You'll be seeing great sights! You'll join the high fliers who soar to high heights. - Dr. Seuss

SAT Time

For the first time, Selamta youth will take the SAT exam for the opportunity to study abroad. Seven Selamta students participated in SAT prep courses with Selamta Ambassadors  over several months. Bilal Abdurahman and Selam Ashenafi will be the first two students to sit for the test on Saturday, June 4. Please join us in wishing them all the best as they take this big step. 

And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! 
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.) 

Selamta Summer Tour

June 28 - August 3, 2016

Selamta is hitting the road for 6 weeks to introduce our families to your friends and family. Attend one of our local events stretching across the Midwest to DC and New England. Or if you live in those regions, consider hosting a stop for us in your community.

Complete tour list coming soon!

English Summer Camp

Ready to pack your bags and hang out with some of the coolest kids on the planet? Yes! Join us in Ethiopia this summer to facilitate Selatma's English Summer Camp. We're hosting a 5-week interactive experience for our youth where they will practice verbal and written English skills beyond the classroom. This year's theme is The Arts. You can expect brilliant performances and a lot of laughs. Visit our Take a Trip page for more information. 

You're off to Great Places! 
Today is your day! 
Your mountain is waiting. 
So...get on your way! 

Developing the Systems of Family

I encourage everyone who is considering making the trip to visit Selamta Family Project to go for it! I can’t wait to go back.
— Cori O'Brien Paluck

By Cori O'Brien Paluck, Selamta Volunteer

If I start at the very beginning, my Selamta Family Project involvement began with and our Women In Tech group Girlforce. The founder of Girlforce, Joni Martin, wanted to organize a trip to help Selamta find volunteer Salesforce resources to help the organization use the Nonprofit Starter Pack, as well as see if the Nourish Collective could help teach local women how to manufacture and sell high end soaps.

After researching Selamta’ s mission to unite orphaned children and marginalized women in forever families, I immediately signed up for the trip. As the Brickwork product specialist for iATS Payments I have been working with Salesforce for over 4 years, but had just become a Certified Administrator. I was eager to share my love of training and Salesforce with Selamta!

Before getting on the plane, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never met any Selamta Staff in person, had never seen true poverty before, and had never been to Africa. I was nervous. I was excited. I knew it was going to be an amazing adventure that I would never forget.

Jump forward over an exhausting 48 hour three-flight journey between Vancouver Canada and Addis Ababa Ethiopia, we finally landed in Africa! After an eye opening drive through Addis enroute to the Bethel area where the Selamta office and houses are located, we walked up the three flights of stairs and settled into our dorm room. One of my best friends Christine was my travel mate and fellow volunteer on the trip, and we were the first of the six women (including an amazing 10 year old!) to arrive. It was 4am, pitch black, and there was no power. This we quickly discovered is quite common in Ethiopia, but that night we were happy to have followed the trusty packing guide provided to us and whipped out our flashlights. As we started to unpack, we suddenly heard the crack of lighting and rumble of thunder as a massive downpour started up outside our third story window. We rushed to look out and saw pre-dawn Addis being completely drenched with rain and torrents of water rushing down the dirt streets. What an introduction!

That first day seems like a dream to me now. After meeting the rest of the team the next morning, (which consisted of Christine and I, Melissa from the Nourish Collective, Trish from Worlds Touch, and Marisa the Selamta Executive Director with her daughter Lily) we experienced a whirlwind of hugs, introductions, fresh coffee, staff meet and greets, and neighborhood tours.

Over the next week we were lucky to be driven around the city of Addis Ababa on supply trips for the Nourish soap projects and to meet the Outreach families. We saw cattle in the streets, buses packed with people, horse-drawn carts, and more diesel smoke than I care to remember. We saw women in ripped dirty clothes alongside others in beautiful wedding dresses. We saw cement huts on the same block as mansions. We saw high-rise condo buildings, multi-story shopping malls, movie theaters.

Within Selamta, we met the nicest, kindest people in the world. Selamta staff treat you like a member of the family. But by far the most impactful experiences of the trip were hanging out in the family homes. Each night we were treated to a delicious home cooked meal by the house Mom and Auntie, consisting of everything from traditional Injera bread (made of teff flour), wat stews, perfectly cooked potatoes and beets, shiro, and so many other dishes I wish I could remember. Sometimes we had pasta with incredible tomato sauce with a hint of mitmita, which is a spice mixture that is just about my favorite thing on the planet these days. We had fresh roasted coffee served espresso style with sugar. Before and after our feasts we would sit in the family living room getting to know the family and learn what life is like in Ethiopia. We learned what school was like for them, what they want to be when they grew up, who their favorite singers were. So many amazing moments I can’t begin to describe.

Before we knew it our two weeks were up. We’d accomplished what we had set out to do and then some, and had taken the opportunity to learn about what life was like in Ethiopia. I encourage everyone who is considering making the trip to visit Selamta Family Project to go for it! I can’t wait to go back.

Volunteer in Ethiopia with Selamta this Summer! Visit our Take a Trip page to learn more.