Friday, October 16, 2009

Starting to Pay it Forward

It’s been a little over one year since we received and accepted the referral of our third child and only daughter – Leyla – who was born in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. The entire experience has moved and changed me in ways I could not have imagined. Becoming a mother for the first time twelve years ago with my eldest son was also a life altering experience. However, this time the experience extended far beyond me and our immediate family and friends. This time the experience left the entire family forever connected to a country and a people half a world away from where we live and worlds away from how we live. In all the craziness of settling into having a baby in the house again, adjusting to a family with three wonderful but busy kids, I had a pull to do something more, give back beyond the confines of our family, and honor this new connection.

The challenges in Ethiopia currently are almost beyond comprehension – there are millions of orphans, HIV and Hepatitis and starvation have ravaged the population, the life expectancy is an unbelievably under 50 years old. There are many more statistics like that to hammer home the desperate plight of this African nation.

However when we were in Ethiopia and when we look at our daughter, we also see so much joy, rich culture and possibility. And we have discovered there are lots of ways to help start to improve the situation in Ethiopia – both small and large. I started this blog to honor the gift Ethiopia has given my family by trying in some small way to be part of the solution for the current challenges. I want to help people learn more about this amazing culture and the ways they can lend a hand. This is all new to me so I imagine there will be lots more learning on my side too.

On my blog, I have included some opportunities to get involved I have found. It could be as simple as buying Ethiopian coffee and supporting their exports or using “Good Search” for your search engine and they will donate to a charity that focuses on Ethiopia. I have also included books to help provide a more complete picture of the issues and the underlying causes of the current situation. Educating yourself and others is an important step toward solutions. My plan is to highlight efforts we have undertaken as well as stories I learn about. I am happy to share our adoption experience with those considering that step. I also welcome thoughts and ideas about learning more about Ethiopia or opportunities to get involved.

Currently, we donate clothes, toys and other supplies we collect from family and friends to WACAP, our adoption agency. These donations are then are sent back to Ethiopia for children waiting for their adoptive families usually with families that are going to pick up their child. Knowing Leyla’s outgrown clothes and toys are being used by another Ethiopian child is a wonderful feeling. When we traveled to Ethiopia to meet her for the first time, we took two big suitcases of supplies. Now we are happy to fill them for other families.
We also sponsor a number of children in Ethiopia through WACAP’s sponsorship program so they can stay in school and remain with their families. Blue Nile also has a sponsorship program that you can participate in. These types are tough here is the United States too right now and there are lots of worthy causes. I hope you will consider Ethiopia as you decide where and how to reach out to those less fortunate pulling on you too to help or learn more. Until next time . .


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