Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Meet Rani...

 Meet Rani.....

Rani Solomon is an only child and is 8 years old. Rani lives in the Gesda Tesfa community in Dire Dawa Ethiopia. This village is a very poor village and many people are forced to beg for food and money as a means of survival.As a young child Rani witnessed her alcoholic father beat her mother. The domestic abuse continued until Rani’s mother left and moved into her parent’s house and began selling bread to make a living to support her and her daughter. When Rani turned 3 years old her mother died, since then she has lived with her grandparents who are 65 and 50 years old.

Rani and her grand parents outside their house

When she was 6, Rani registered in the nearby school but her grandparents could only afford to send her for 3 months as the only income they have is her grandfather’s pension which is not enough to support a whole family. Their living circumstances forced Rani to drop out of school and to work to help support the family. Rani helps her grandmother clean houses, fetches water for the family and other household chores.

In August 2011 Rani was selected to benefit from the Youth Release Program, located in the Gesde Tesfa area. The project provides psycho social and education support to marginalized and vulnerable children. Through this program Rani is able to attend school and is benefiting from other services being offered by the program such as tutorial support and educational support. Rani's Grandparents feel that the project is benefiting Rani in many ways; she is receiving educational  support, school uniform, free health care services, tutorial class and, psychosocial counseling. These services are beyond the reach for this family.According to Rani's Grandmother ' if the project was not providing educational support for Rani, she would stay out of school for another year, if not longer'

Rani doing her homework

If you would like to learn more about Together in Hope's work in Ethiopia please see http://togetherinhope.org/our-programs/ethiopia

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Philippines 2012

Some of our team members after the 1st leg of our journey
Together in Hope has just returned from the Philippines, we thought we would be able to update you while we were there but unfortunately we did not have internet access for the two weeks we were there. For those of you that don't know it takes about...23 hours to get to the Philippines. The team consisting of 11 volunteers, traveled from Houston-Hawaii-Guam-Manila, although the journey was long it was a great opportunity for some team bonding!

After we arrived in Manila, the majority of the team traveled to Bicol, Naga city the next day while our director Diane McGehee traveled to Malis, and Elizabeth one of our volunteers traveled to Upper Javier. The goal of this trip was to continue the work that was started in Upper Javier and Bicol last April. The team in Bicol was involved in three main activities addressing the needs of the mind, body and spirit, to give this community hope and a sense of dignity. We were overwhelmed by the growth of this program. Last year, there were less than 50 children benefiting from the project. In a year this number has grown to 100 children plus their parents. There are 25 children enrolled in the literacy program, with 25 more waiting for funding for a second class. A number of livelihood programs, such as hair dressing and rug making, have been offered. The women who took these classes now have their own small business and are earning an income for their families. What great progress!
Some of the children from the local community enrolled in the program.

Women from the sewing class with the bags they made

The volunteer program was amazing. Twelve women from the local community were selected to take part in a week-long classes sewing class. The main goal of the week was to teach the women how to make a simple product that they could then sell at the local market. Wow did we reach our goal! By the third day, the majority of the women had each made a shoulder bag; those that were unable to sew learned how to braid fabric to make rugs or place mats. By the last day, they were also making beautiful pillow case dresses. When interviewed, each woman talked about what she learned from the class and all plan to make more bags and sell them at the local market. In one week, women were empowered to take control of their own futures and in turn will be able to teach and empower other women from the community. What more could we have hoped for?
Fourteen men were selected from the community to help build a wall, glaze the windows on the TIH building and fix up the shower and restroom facilities. The men learned many valuable skills, as did our team. Alan learned ‘How to mix cement the Filipino way’. There were some minor hiccups along the way, but as always, with the help of the community, we worked them out. The men also got a huge surprise when some of the female TIH members decided to pitch in. Like the women in the sewing program, the men can use the skills they learned to assist them with gaining employment: something many of them have never had before.
The men who worked on the construction project
One of our favorite activities when we are in the Philippines is to be part of the Jessica’s Table feeding program. On our last day working in Bicol, the members of the local community asked us if we wanted to take part in the preparation of the food. How could we say no? They prepared 7 KG of spaghetti and meat balls for 120 children, plus their mothers. Each child got a serving of spaghetti and a bread roll. It was amazing to see the smiles on the children's faces and how generous they are. Most children will try to sneak an extra portion for their siblings. It always teaches us that no matter what little you have, you can always share. If children as young as 3 can share the only nutritional meal they get once a week, can’t we give something?

One of the children receiving a nutritional meal...look at that smile!

If you would like to learn more about our work in the Philippines please visit  http://togetherinhope.org/our-programs/the-philippines  or email us at laurapower@togetherinhope.org