Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What a Difference an AAI sponsorship can make!

Post by Susan Poisson-Dollar, AAI Director of Development

For just a few dollars a month, you can make a huge difference in the life of a child in Ethiopia, Ghana or Burkina Faso. AAI has sponsorship programs in each of these countries; in fact several different ones are available in Ethiopia where we have been operating for over a decade now.

At first our sponsored children were often the older and unadoptable sibling of a child placed by AAI. When adoptive parents frequently learned that their child was leaving behind an older sibling and often several, perhaps in deep poverty and not able to even attend school, they helped us create a sponsorship program to ensure that the sibling(s) would have a chance at a brighter future.  The family was then able to receive a social worker's report and updated photos of the child/ren several times a year.  We now have over 125 children enrolled in this particular program, mostly in and around the city of Addis Ababa.  We have branched out now to outlying areas where we have worked with partner orphanages and we now have over 120 sponsored children, mostly orphans, in Dire Dawa, Sheshemone, and Dessie, where the AAI school was built.  While the children are enrolled in the sponsorship program because the need is so great, we do not yet have sponsors and hope that readers of this post will contact Brooke Cole, AAI sponsorship and volunteer coordinator to join the program and help us assure that we can continue this important work. 

The lovely young lady shown above, Tesfallen Melaku, was in AAI's sponsorship program for a number of years thanks to an AAI adoptive parent who adopted her sister.  The sponsorship helped put her through college and she is now 23.  When I met her in March 2010, she was working in AAI's sponsorship office and said that she just loves "helping people and finding out what their condition is."  Tesfallen has future plans to continue studying law or social work.

I was also lucky enough to accompany AAI sponsorship social worker Elsa Moges to visit the family shown above.   We learned that the father had been unable to work for several months because of an eye problem and while Elsa had been on maternity leave, he was to shy to talk to anyone else.  Elsa told me that the girls, Marta and Bethlehem, were outstanding students and also helped their father a great deal. She described them as a close, affectionate family.  

On our first visit, the girls cried as they described how worried they were about their father and how tough things had gotten.  Elsa rushed right back to her office after the visit and made an eye appointment for the father the next morning.  We picked him up by taxi and within two hours he had received an prescription for his condition and been fitted for some good sunglasses to help protect his eyes in Ethiopia's strong sun.   We went to the pharmacy to get the prescription and also some stomach medicine for the older girl who had been experiencing stomach pains so severe she couldn't eat, presumably from stress.  By the time I returned to the U.S. a few days later Elsa had checked in with them again and the situation was vastly improved with the father expected to be able to work again within a few days.  The adoptive family of these girls' brother paid the relatively small cost to cover these additional medical bills. 

Please consider helping to make a difference in the life of a child by joining one of our sponsorship programs.   You can make a recurring monthly or quarterly donation online and for just the cost of one extra-large pizza in the U.S., you will be making a great impact on the life of a child.   Thank you!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Temesgen's visit to the Port Angeles office

Blog post by Merrily Ripley, AAI Executive Director

It was very special having Temesgen, our attorney and the legal representative of AAI in Ethiopia spend two days in our office last week.    He spent several hours with staff, familiarizing himself with our procedures and discussing mutual issues.  More than 30 members of local families met with him for dinner on Tuesday night and he was able to connect with young folks who had been placed by AAI as long as seven years ago.  On Wednesday he was available to meet with families and to receive calls from them and on Wednesday afternoon he met with a group of teenagers to talk and share with them.  He was especially pleased to hear that two of them are starting University in the fall.
The important message that Temesgen shared was that there are some in Ethiopia who do not think that adoption is a good plan for orphan children, though most still think it is a very good option.  Recent negative publicity has raised some concerns among the more educated people.   He reminded us that Americans do not have a “right” to adopt the children.  Whether or not children are placed is up to the Ethiopian government;  they set the rules and we must honor and respect them.

Temesgen is shown on the left with three young adults placed through AAI---Wubi Acheson, Tigist Winters and Tamrat Haskins.  Wubi and Tigist will be studying at the University of Washington in the fall.