Tuesday, December 8, 2009
AAI Annual Holiday Letter
The holidays are upon us. It is heartwarming to see the cards arriving with smiling faces and we think fondly of the families we have worked with over the years. It has been a year of many accomplishments at AAI.
There will be nearly 300 children in new families this holiday, primarily from Ethiopia. Ghana, Thailand, China and domestically from Washington State. However so many children still wait. On my desk is a photo of five little orphan brothers, the oldest about seven. We don’t have space for all of them at Layla House at the moment, so they are in a small orphanage near Addis Ababa. They will join us as soon as we identify a family for them.
We are finding that the governments of the countries where we work are expecting us to do ever more to help children who will remain without being adopted. We have begun thinking of AAI as a humanitarian organization as well as an adoption agency. Our largest project was completed this year, the Dessie School, which was built in a poor area in northern Ethiopia. With help from AAI friends 1200 children are now able to attend school, and over half of the students are girls.
AAI provides sponsorship for over 500 orphans in Ethiopia and Ghana. These are children who can remain with extended family with some financial assistance. We call this “family preservation” and believe that with older children especially, it is best to have them remain in their birth country if their needs can be met there.
AAI has continued to develop Opportunity House where orphan children with serious disabilities can live and receive services to help them reach their potential. Currently 22 youngsters reside at Opportunity House and a number of neighborhood families with special needs youngsters also benefit from the services we offer there.
In Ghana our program moved to new and larger facilities. This year the program has grown with children coming from many parts of the country. AAI is providing support for two orphanages that were financially able to provide only very basic care for the children. We have initiated family preservation sponsorships as well.
AAI continues to place only children with special needs from Thailand and many of the children we place from China have special needs as well. It often takes months of searching to find just the right family for these children but we continue to be committed to giving these kids an opportunity for a family.
The commitment to children who are HIV+ continues and we support programs caring for children with AIDS in Ethiopia and Ghana. The wonderful thing is that we are now placing many children who are HIV+ and getting medication that allows them a nearly normal life. HIV+ children have been placed from Ghana, Thailand, and China as well as from Ethiopia, and it is expected that nearly 50 HIV+ children will join families this year. This is amazing when you realize that just 10 years ago we were raising money to develop a hospice home to care for orphans with AIDS.
We have always had a goal of keeping adoption fees as low as possible to make adoption affordable to as many families as possible. Therefore we are dependent on donations to cover much of AAI’s humanitarian work. I ask that you think carefully about what you can do financially this year to help AAI help children without families. Many lives are being touched in a positive way by our efforts and we are so grateful for your support in the past.
All of us at AAI consider it a privilege to do this work and to get to know the families and children that we serve. We want to wish you peace and happiness this season and through the coming year.
Merrily, Ted and the AAI Staff