Story of Hope: Henok

Eleven years ago, a young boy named Henok, joined our Selamta family.  He didn't know his birth mother or father. He lived with a foster family for a while but they were unable to properly care for him over time. His experience is reflective of many children who lose their families at a young age in Ethiopia.  Thankfully, God made a way for Henok to come into Selama where he's grown up, surrounded with love and support, for the last 11 years. 

 Then...Henok, age 11

Then...Henok, age 11

 Now...Henok, age 22

Now...Henok, age 22

Growing up as one of the oldest in Selamta's Lucy House Family with 7 brothers and sisters, he's a great role model to his younger siblings. Although he is relatively quiet, when Henok opens up, he loves to make those around him laugh. He's a gifted soccer player and has been recognized for his outstanding efforts on the field. He worked hard in school and completed grade 12 but school was never his passion until he started college. In the fall of 2016, Henok began studying health information technology.

"It was Mama Selam who helped me not to quit when I was confused at the beginning. She advised me to not quit and to be hopeful."

"When I was a 1st year student, I did not know what I wanted and was a bit confused. But with the guidance and support of Selamta, I am on the right track. For instance, Tigist, Selamta's nurse, was the one who advised me to go on the practicum and she helped me in choosing the hospital for practice and helped me to be accepted. Zelalem, Selamta's Education Team Leader, is also supporting me through this process and facilitating with with provision of educational materials including the laptop I have which is very much important for the training I am having."

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"The health information technology training is already impacting my life. I was not that much into helping others before, but after a year of training and a chance to serve people in a government hospital setting for practicum purpose, changed my purpose for good. I now want to help those who need my professional help more than the money I can earn from doing it."

"People come to me even before they get in touch with emergency health professionals. They depend on my services before they can get access to other services even if their case is an emergency one. So if I messed up, I may put their life in danger or vise versa. This is how much it makes me responsible. That changes me a lot. I want to be a professional who impacts lives positively."

Henok's journey has just begun. His opportunities are endless now that he's discovering his purpose. Your support provides these opportunities and makes a difference in the lives of children. Every child deserves to know the love of family. 

We are thankful that Henok knows the love of a family, feels supported, and can make a difference for even more people.

“We have seen the complexity of the orphan crisis worldwide and wholeheartedly believe that Selamta’s mission is one of the purest answers in ending this tragedy.”
— Nick and Whitney Runyon, co-founders of The Archibald Project.

Selamta Family News - June 2018

Messi’s Wedding

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Love is in the air! This spring, a wonderful young man asked for our amazing Messi's hand in marriage. Now, in Ethiopia, the traditional way of doing this is a process. Messi's would-be fiance sent a group of elders (uncles, friends, people who can vouch for his character) to her home to petition on his behalf. Messi's elders (Mom, Selamta team, friends and family) heard their request and said they would consider it but they had to come back in two weeks. Two weeks passed and his elders returned. Messi's elders invited them in but they did not sit down. If they received bad news, they would then leave the home. But if the news was positive, there would be a party.

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Well, PARTY TIME!

We are thrilled to share that our very own Messi, who has been a part of the Selamta Family since 2008, has extended our family and is happily married to a great guy! We pray many blessings over their family and their future!


Movie Nights

Every Saturday night, the Selamta Community Center is filled with food, laughter and deep conversations. The boys and girls trade off every other Saturday to have special movie nights. Our nurse, Tigist, leads the girls and our Assistant Ethiopian Director, Habtie, leads the boys. We have additional volunteer support from our accountant, Yodit and US Embassy volunteer, Chris.

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They start the night by cooking together and sharing a meal. Sometimes it's pizza or injera with shiro but no movie night would be complete without Ethiopian-style popcorn! These nights are special because of the way relationships form and conversations become meaningful. We use the movies as a starting point to talk about real life situations and how the character we develop in own lives can guide our decisions in life. Spiritual and life skills development are important to our families and their futures. Of course, a killer dance party and all-night giggles are pretty important for teen development too! 


STF partner conference

The Selamta Team in Ethiopia is exceptional. And we get to work with some pretty exceptional partners as well. One of our key partners in girl's education is She's the First. Each year they host a partner conference in Africa.

Habtie, Assistant Ethiopian Director, and Selam, Outreach Social Worker, traveled to Kenya to be a part of the conference. They were able to share the stories of our girls and families with other like-minded organizations and learned a ton from everyone else's best practices.

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ESC prep and volunteers

National Exams just finished in Ethiopia so that means...It's SUMMER! And with summer comes Selamta's English Summer Camp!

We are over the moon excited for camp this year. Our friends at McLean Bible Church in Washington, DC are developing our camp curriculum and it's amazing! We have families that adopted children from Ethiopia coming over to serve together. We have college students, young professionals and just all around incredible humans joining us for 2, 4 or 6 weeks this summer. There are just a few volunteer spaces left so if you've been thinking about, now is the time to apply


Yezena update

Last fall, Yezena was offered the most incredible opportunity. She was given a 4 year scholarship to complete her high school education at Brewster Academy in Wolfboro, NH. We are THRILLED to share that not only is Yezena doing well, making friends, and adjusting to her new community, SHE IS CRUSHING IT! Yezena earned summa cum laude honors through her freshman year and won the prestigious ESL Keystone Award for outstanding academics, integrity, and service . Yezena was given this educational opportunity not just because she's smart, but she's a leader and a role model as well. She has always lifted up the people around her. She constantly encourages her Selamta brothers and sisters back in Ethiopia. She believes in their abilities. She challenges them and celebrates their success via social media. And Yezena is able to do all of these things because she is also encouraged and supported by her extended Selamta Family. Matt Donovan & Anne Merra take Selamta Family Sponsorship to a whole new level by being Yezena's home away from home. They are a brilliant example of what family is and how to love without ceasing. And Yezena's Mentor Sponsors, Brian and Esther Samia live within an hour of the Donovan's and Yezena's school. She is surrounded by loving, caring people who believe in her. Every child needs a community of support. Let's live by their example!


Every child. Every family.

 Every child deserves to grow up in a loving, stable family. Our Heart & Home Sponsors make that possible at Selamta. From Mother's Day to Father's Day, we are asking for your help to see that every child and every family who is a part of Selamta is fully sponsored. If you're not a sponsor yet, check it out! If you are a sponsor, will you encourage 3 people to join you in changing someone's forever? It only works when we're in it together!

 Abay House is one of Selamta's 10 Forever Families. Mama Alemnesh is raising 10 kids from the age of 6-24. This family needs a Family Sponsor.  Photo by Sarah Jane Langham

Abay House is one of Selamta's 10 Forever Families. Mama Alemnesh is raising 10 kids from the age of 6-24. This family needs a Family Sponsor. 
Photo by Sarah Jane Langham

 Sitota is in grade 6, and her family is supported by Selamta's Outreach Program. She has one younger sister, and they live with their mom. She needs a Mentor Sponsor.   

Sitota is in grade 6, and her family is supported by Selamta's Outreach Program. She has one younger sister, and they live with their mom. She needs a Mentor Sponsor.   

 Meaza, living in Abay House, is a very bright and exceptionally mindful of others. She is in grade 9, Meaza needs a Mentor Sponsor.    

Meaza, living in Abay House, is a very bright and exceptionally mindful of others. She is in grade 9, Meaza needs a Mentor Sponsor. 

 

 Nati lives in Tewodros/Bishangari house with 9 Selamta siblings. He is the youngest, but he sure keeps up with them! He's always gigling and loves a good dance party. Nati needs a Friend Sponsor. 

Nati lives in Tewodros/Bishangari house with 9 Selamta siblings. He is the youngest, but he sure keeps up with them! He's always gigling and loves a good dance party. Nati needs a Friend Sponsor. 


Indiana Happy Hour

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We are constantly blown away by the kindness and enthusiasm of our Selamta Family of supporters. Cindy Mosca, artist and former Peace Corp volunteer, recently hosted a wonderful happy hour event in Indiana to support our families. Part of her fundraiser included her very own art inspired by her time in Ethiopia. She's incredible! Thank you Cindy!


Matching Madness

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In April, we were given a pretty amazing gift by two friends in Austin, TX - Charlotte Herzele and Sheridan Lorenz. They gave us $5000 to support our families and challenged us to get it matched. We are about halfway there so far. If you would like be a part of fulfilling this challenge, click the button below and your gift will be doubled! 


Selamta Family Dinners

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There's nothing better than great food, friends and family. This September, we will be launching our favorite time of year, Selamta Family Dinners. Have your people over, eat all the yummy things, and share why you choose to support Selamta. Last year, you guys raised almost $30,000 by breaking bread. If you live in Florida or will be in our neck of the woods on September 13th, SAVE THE DATE NOW! More info coming soon!

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.

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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!

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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

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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 marisa@selamtafamilyproject.org.


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!

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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.

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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.

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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! 

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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!"

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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! 

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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!

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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. 

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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!

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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 that...it 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! 

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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.”