09 March 2011

FOVC and me

I'm excited about partnering with FOVC. Before I get into the details of what we'll be doing with FOVC, let me give you a little background.

For those who don't know, I was born and raised in a central California farming community, I attended California State University, Fresno where I received a BS in Agriculture Education and plant science. I worked for the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service starting in college and upon graduation, moved to Northeast Iowa for a permanent position. Marriage and 2 biological kids later, we adopted a 2 year old boy and brought him home from Ethiopia last May. While driving through the country side in Ethiopia, I paid close attention to the farming operations and erosion because that's what I do for a career. While there, we were able to meet our son's birth mother. She's an amazing woman who lost her husband to pneumonia and then made the courageous decision to give up her youngest child for adoption because they were literally starving.

Since coming home 10 months ago, I continue to think about the poverty-stricken families in rural Southern Ethiopia. Most of the families live on less than $1 per day (which would buy two bunches of bananas as a comparison). When left as widows, the situation often becomes desperate. This is part of the reason there were 2,227 Ethiopian children adopted by U.S. families in 2009 (statistics found here). My desire to get involved in teaching them sustainable practices came to fruitition when I connected with Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children. FOVC is a grassroots organization dedicated to educating and supporting orphans, vulnerable children, and widows in Ethiopia and empowers them to break the cycle of poverty and hunger as they offer them hope and independence for the future.

In Ethiopia, too many children are living in extreme poverty in one parent homes. Because of abandonment, death from HIV/AIDS, malaria or other preventable diseases, mothers are raising their children alone. They are trying to keep the family together but most do not have education or skills to provide properly for their family. Partnership with FOVC helps these women provide for their children and keep them from becoming orphans. In addition to FOVC's other areas of service, they have a specific program called Hope for Widows. On a personal level, I can't fathom the heart ache of relinquishing a child. Judah's birth mom had to do that and is missing out on his dimples, his energy and his good behavior. I don't want her, or women like her, to have to go through that painful decision of relinquishing another child. Because of my education, career, international experience, and interest, I have been asked by FOVC to head up their crops portion of the Hope for Widows Project. To date, this is the only part of the project they have not been able to get off the ground. Additonally, they've asked Ryan to take part in their livestock for widows portion as a practicing veterinarian and someone who's worked in veterinary medicine in rural Mongolia.

When normal agricultural cycles are disrupted and sources of crop seeds are gone, people struggle to survive at the most basic level. Sadly, this is all too often the case in rural southern Ethiopia. Donations of $1,874 would provide over 220 pounds of seeds— nourishing maize, teff, beans, potatoes and onions - growing food for FOVC's widows and all of their children for years to come. As with our other Widow's Hope programs, the women in the program will make small re-payments to the Crops for Widows fund, so more widows and their families can be helped in the future. Now isn’t that a seed worth sowing? My goal is to take $2,000 U.S. dollars of seed money with me when I travel to Ethiopia. I've been asked to join a small team in late May/early June. The team will do various things. My responsibility will be to educate the women in the basics of farming (what likely had been there husbands livelihood). Ryan has been asked to join the team as well. His knowledge and experience will be used to work with the livestock.

This is where you can play a valuable role.

In the next 2 months, I will be raising up partners to establish the seed money for the "Crops for Widows" project. Additionally, Ryan and I will have to come up with over $5,000 for our travel and daily expenses. If you would like to partner with the project and/or with us personally, we would be greatful.

Here's the details for those interested: for the two of us to travel, we are looking at an estimated $3,000 in airline tickets and $2,400 that would cover daily expenses for the estimated 12 days of travel. Those expenses include all food, lodging, transportation, tips, water, taxis, etc. Because this organization is funding programs to serve the Ethiopians, we are responsible for 100% of the costs of the trip. In addition to giving up our vacation time, we need to fund our expenses. Having just comleted an adoption, we can't do this alone. With 5 donors at the $200 level, 10 donors at the $100 level, 20 donors at $50 level, and 20 donors at the $20 level, we would raise a fair amount but still be personally responsible for $2,000.

Our goal is to raise the majority of the funds. This isn't about me meeting a goal though, it's about changing the lives not just one child but of entire villages. Will you partner with us? Will you partner and encourage these women and their children? Please, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, would like more information, etc. My email is tam4buit@hotmail.com.

Thank you for your time. That in itself is much appreciated as I work to plant seeds.

Checks can be written to Rocky Mountain Christian Church and mailed to me at Lory Howlett, FOVC, 1428 Venice Lane, Longmont, CO 80503. DO NOT put my name on the check but please add a seperate note that says "Tamara B" on it or "Seed Money" on it depending on what you want to donate to. THanks.

Eager and ready to serve,

1 comment:

Ingrid said...

I just found out you know Beth and Jared. Beth and I go back 30+ years. She was my college roommate and matron of honor in my wedding. What a small world. So excited you are joining FOVC!