As I've been pouring over other Ethiopian adoption blogs lately, watching new referrals and court dates and anxiously anticipating others, the one thing I've found is that so many people have had such great ideas for gifts. Gifts for birth mothers, care takers, other children in the orphanages, etc. I am kind of bummed out that I hadn't thought of many of these things, or more bloggers hadn't gone before us so I could copy some of their ideas. There is no heat in Addis (yes, pretty much anywhere except for the hotels), so the best birth mother gift that I have seen is a hand made quilt. My mother-in-law is a master quilter and I'm sure she would have been thrilled to have made such a special quilt. And I would have loved to be able to wrap Sophie's birth mother in a warmth that would forever remind her of her daughter.
I also wish that I had brought more for the other children. We brought lots of random things, but with up to 120 kids in some of these places, you really need to have a LOT of things so as to avoid anyone being left out. We ended up leaving a lot of our bags of goodies with Belay so that he could distribute them as he saw fit, but I would have loved to see all of those beautiful eyes light up with even the simplest of gifts.
I guess my main point in thinking about what we could have done is that there are still so many ways that we can still help. Several friends have asked how to make a donation in Sophie's name in lieu of another baby gift that we don't need. I think this is probably the best gift we could ask for. One friend gave directly to the Gladney Fund and another donated a farm animal to a needy family in order to break the cycle of poverty through Heifer International. John and I sponsor two children from Rwanda (and will add two more to our sponsorship - to have one for each of our own children) through World Vision. The kids love to receive the letters and pictures from our sponsored children and love to send photos and hand-drawn pictures back. We know that one day, they will understand how truly important all of this is. We plan to make several trips back to Ethiopia throughout our lifetime and will include each of the kids in philanthropic projects right here at home as each is old enough to understand. This year, we plan to focus most of our annual giving on Ethiopia. After reading the recent accounts of Drew and Carey and the Mestas Family, I think it's best for those of you interested to go straight to their blogs to see about the specific projects.
Drew and Carey are involved in a great project that provides free wheelchairs for people around the world (and specifically in Ethiopia if you want to request it). You can donate one wheelchair for a mere $75. After seeing the many people in Ethiopia in dire need of a wheelchair, this one is a no brainer.
They also took some great pictures of the run-down playground equipment that we all saw at the orphanages, which you can view here and here. Gladney is trying to raise lots of money to pay for 5 new playgrounds for the orphanages. As you can imagine, the shipping alone is astronomical, so any little bit helps.
Finally, one of the other Ethiopia-specific projects near to us is the new library for the older boys at the Kolfe orphanage that we visited and that I wrote about in a prior post. I think the Mestas family explains it the best in their blog post entitled The Forgotton Boys.
If either of the Gladney projects are of interest to you, you can send checks payable to:
The Gladney Center for Adoption c/o Scott Brown.
Mail to: 6300 John Ryan DR.Fort Worth, TX 76132-4122
In the memo line of check write: “Ethiopian Humanitarian Aid”
I assume you should include a note if you want the money to go specifically for the playgrounds, Kolfe or if you want Gladney to decide how best to use it.
This year, we decided that none of the adults need to exchange holiday gifts in our families - we all have most everything we need and if we don't we usually just go buy it ourselves anyway. We're trying to simplify the holiday season and plan to enjoy it and the company of our friends and family more, rather than spending time stressing out about what to buy the uncle who has everything. In lieu of that, we're going to focus our holiday giving on some of the projects listed above and hope that you might be inspired to do the same. Happy Holidays!
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