When I moved to Denver, I started fresh with charities and organizations I wanted to support. Africa, children, and hunger are my passions. Give me a chance to volunteer, donate money or raise supplies for causes that provide smart, effective solutions to on-going public health issues concerning these three areas and I’m all in.
Locally, I support Metro CareRing. I believe in their mission of providing food support for those in need. I appreciate their manner of having clients select their own produce and grains to both minimize waste and make the process of coming to a food bank as kind and respectful as possible. This is especially important when the families have children. Watching kids pick out their own fruit and vegetables they are excited to take home — whether that is a trailer, a foreclosed suburban brick house or the city park — makes me happy. They are doing great things in Denver with people who truly need a bit of nourishment during a rough patch of life.
Volunteering here has been eye opening to the growing hunger in our country. The folks who come through the pantry are a slice of any city — they are all races, ages and of many educational backgrounds. It is humbling to shake their hands and help them fill a bag.
Inter/Nationally, I support Project Hopeful. Their mission of advocating for HIV-positive kids living in a handful of international orphanages is meaningful, life-saving work. They have classes for HIV-positive mothers in Ethiopia, providing prevention education information to limit the spread of the infection to others, and to encourage the women to become change advocates in their villages. They host educational seminars in the United States for families considering adoption. What would it be like to have an HIV-positive child in your home? How are these adoptions processed? What are the fees associated? What are the long-term psychological issues with cross-cultural adoption?
Hundreds of families have attended these seminars. As a result, hundreds of kids have been adopted from the most abismal conditions you can imagine.
They match HIV-positive orphans with American families interested in saving a child’s life. With antiretrovirals and adoption, the chances of an orphan going on to live a normal, happy healthy adulthood with a chronic disease is likely. If they remain in their home country, the chance of a life cut dramatically short by the disease is all but guaranteed.
Project Hopeful has helped advocate for more than 200 children who have been adopted in the United States. They have a 0% overhead, meaning their entire “staff” is actually a crew of dedicated volunteers. All of the money they raise, which at this point has been limited, goes directly to helping advocate and educated for such adoptions.
I’ve long talked about my interest in adopting a daughter from Ethiopia. I’ve attended playgroups for children adopted from the Horn of Africa, spoken with parents who have gone through this process, and started saving my pennies. While I am not yet to this stage of life, I am ready to commit to a child in need of advocacy and prayer with Project Hopeful’s FIG program.
FIG stands for Families in the Gap. This program allows donors to give a bit of money each month for the adoption of a specific child. Additionally, donors are requested to pray for the child and for the family waiting to adopt him/her, and to advocate for the process.
Serena was born in 1998 with HIV in Ethiopia. The 12 year old came to live at an orphanage in February when her extended family could no longer provide a “stable environment.” This could mean a variety of things. In Ethiopia, like many areas of the world, the HIV-positive are shunned and pushed to the outskirts of life. Serena’s health was failing because she wasn’t getting enough to eat, or the proper medication, while living with her aunt. She’s now living in a foster care home with specialized care and waiting for adoption by an American family. The money I give will help in the tiniest bit toward the adoptive family’s $20,000+ expense of bringing Serena home.
I think of this sweet little girl and the challenges she’s already faced in her brief life — the loss of her parents, the shuffling of homes. This program doesn’t allow photos of the children from Ethiopia. And so, I’m using photos from my orphanage work in Mozambique with this post. I have no idea what Serena looks like, but I do remember what it was like to be a 12 year old girl — full of mixed emotion. And through other travel, I am all to familiar with the plight of young, African children who’ve been left in orphanages by well intentioned family who simply cannot feed another mouth.
Today, I pray for Serena and the lucky American family who she’ll join with time. My happiest day will be when I am able to meet Serena and her new family. Can’t you just picture a sweet, shy teenage girl in a American suburban home whose hopes have shifted from survival to high school graduation? What a merciful scene that scene will be. And how thankful I am to be a part of this work, even in the smallest way!
There are 130 children waiting for advocates in the FIG program. Please consider supporting this work. Your donation will save lives of those most in need — sick children.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18