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Spreading Hope Day by Day

By Luke    About FWFWCA

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you only made $1 a day? This is the case for some hard working women in Ethiopia. These women are part of an association called the Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers. The Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers are women who carry bundles of wood down the mountains of Addis Ababa to sell them for less than $1. This is what life is like every day for the women in the association and someone needed to help them.

Starting Connected in Hope…

A vision needed to be created and this is how Connected in Hope was formed. Connected in Hope Foundation’s vision began with an adoption and a first visit to Ethiopia in 2009. It grew into a deep love and respect for the people of Ethiopia and a compelling desire to give back to this beautiful land and its people. Subsequent trips to Ethiopia brought the people of Connected in Hope face-to-face with women burdened the job of with carrying enormous bundles of fuel wood. They seemed to almost run as they rushed down the mountains around Addis Ababa to sell their bundles for less than $1.

Daily Challenges

Connected in Hope learned about the enormous challenges they faced every day in an effort to provide even the basics of food and shelter for their families. They saw the agony in their eyes as they talked about leaving their sleeping children in the hours before dawn to gather fuel wood in the forest. Wild animals, harassment, rape were part of their daily lives. They had the opportunity to met children forced to quit school and work when the complications of HIV/AIDS left their mothers too ill to support the family. They also saw the realities of their lives – poverty, unsafe drinking water, insufficient sanitation, scarce food. The faces of the women fuel wood carriers and their children were imprinted on their hearts and left them forever changed, but committed to take action and do something about it.

Bringing Ethiopia and the US Together

Connected in Hope quickly moved beyond just our family to include friends, both in the US and in Ethiopia, who shared our passion for the women and children of Ethiopia. Connected in Hope incorporated in North Carolina in November 2010 and received official recognition by the IRS as 501c3 nonprofit in February 2011. Today Connected in Hope is actively involved and making a difference through our partnership with the Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers Association. Connected in Hope’s US leadership makes several trips to Ethiopia each year, sharing meals with the weavers, sourcing raw materials at the best price, working with Ayelech and Wubalem to identify colors and designs, and building enduring relationships with the women. Connected in Hope’s Country Director, Nebiat Bezabeh, coordinates all aspects of the project at the two weaving sites, Kolfe and Entoto/Shiro Meda.

40% of all of the country’s children will never go to school.

Connected in Hope also offer Education and Health Care programs. The need for quality primary education is immense. Children under the age of 18 represent 52% of the Ethiopian population. Forty percent of all of the country’s children will never go to school. Of those who enter grade one, only 40% will complete grade five. Ethiopia has one of the lowest primary school enrollment rates and one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. Over 60% of Ethiopian women do not know how to read or write in their own language. The Connected in Hope education uses donations to help get as many kids in school as they possibly can. As for the Health Care program, almost 80% of the deaths in Ethiopia are due to preventable communicable diseases and nutritional deficiencies.

1 in 10 Ethiopian children will die before their first birthday. – WHO

The World Health Organization (2008) reports that with an annual average family income of less than $300, it is not surprising that 51% of Ethiopian children suffer moderate to severe stunted growth because of poor nutrition. One in 10 Ethiopian children will die before their first birthday. Forty-six percent of children under the age of five will die from water-borne disease and related diarrhea. Access to basic health care is severely limited and frequently unavailable to the poor. Donations are also used to help give health care to those in need of it.

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