Thursday, May 6, 2010

World Aids Orphans Day

Tomorrow is World Aids Orphans Day

When we were in Ethiopia picking up our kidlets, I had a chance to visit AHOPE. Before I did, I had been thinking about how a woman I admire very much encouraged everyone in the adoption community to look beyond AHOPE and some of the better known places when looking for a place to support. She mentioned that AHOPE was doing well, comparatively, and that perhaps we might dig deeper and find a bigger need in another place. I am sure that she is right. HOWEVER, if AHOPE is the place that is doing well, well then...that sucks.

Toys at AHOPE.

Girls' room.

Residents. (All pictures shown with permission).

Bleak. That was my impression. Bleak. Seems like they could still use our support.

Here are some ways to help AHOPE

I would recommend a sponsorship if you can swing it. You get updates, and pictures of your sponsored child. You find out that they really like tuna on their pizza, and that they'd really like to be a doctor when they grow up.



  1. For obvious reasons I've been having a lot of conversations about AHOPE this year. And I've been there a couple of times. It IS actually quite a bit "nicer" than many orphanages I have seen. Shocking, I know. Really, agency homes are "transition homes" and not orphanages. So if you are mostly in agency homes you aren't seeing the reality of orphanage care in developing countries. AHOPE is more of a true orphanage.

    But one thing stuck with me from a friend's comments after volunteering there for a few months: she said "it is like a big (dysfunctional) loving family." Less like an institution. It is not always clean. Ok, it often is not at all clean. But I have reasonable confidence in saying that the kids (while they wait to be adopted hopefully) are loved. And that is important. It's what gets me through without completely losing it.

  2. Yeah, I know. And I heard that even a few months after you were there it looked even bleaker. But I do know they're actively raising funds and have moved to a new building with room for a few more kids.

    I'm looking forward to visiting again, if possible, and I hope I'll report on the better side of bleak.

  3. We went to AHOPE too. I agree--bleak. Horribly bleak. I can't even imagine how it looks at other places. Thankfully, all the kids there are getting the anti-retro virals, at least, so they have a chance. I almost didn't have the strength to walk away from that place. I think the visit should be mandatory on some level. Thank you for this post.

  4. It's been really hard for me to shake the bleakness since our visit.

    and the smiling faces who call it home.

    it sucks.

  5. I wish I could have gone. We all need to see places like this to truly wake up in this world. And to know that they feel they are doing, that truly shows how bad it really is in other orphanages. :( Thanks for sharing.

  6. My daughter lived at AHOPE. In fact, I was looking to find her in your group photo. Maybe she was behind someone , as she was definitely there last summer when you were there. Do you have other pictures? If so, I'd covet them. I want every little piece of her history.

    I never saw any of the transition homes, so I have nothing to compare it to. But S was loved so completely there. She was so loved and fed and played with.

    I have to say that your post makes me a little sad. I see the shabby in the pictures. But when I was there, all I saw was joy.

    It's where my baby lived.

  7. I enjoyed our visit to AHOPE. I wish it had been a bit longer...I just enjoyed the kids so full of it! Bleak but beautiful too...hard to describe...

  8. I hope to visit there when we travel. We sponsored a child who was adopted so that was great news. But another child took her place and we are sponsoring a seven y.o. boy now. It feels good to hear that the children are loved. And sko3, you made me tear up.

  9. My kids spent over a year at a similarly "bleak" agency transition home/orphanage that housed older children, children with disabilities, etc. who can wait many anxiety-ridden years for a family. I know that no one here is arguing against adoption, and AHOPE absolutely needs sponsors and donors to care for the kids while they live there, but I think it's important to separate the bleak feelings that we (as Westerners/ people unaccustomed to seeing children living in shabby institutions) experience walking into a place like that, and the feelings that children experience living there.

    The sensory bleakness did not really disturb my kids or the other kids they lived with. Any bleakness they felt came from the fact that they didn't live with their families, not because they were living in a substandard environment. Many, if not most, of the kids came from situations that were even bleaker than a relatively well-funded orphanage. They were accustomed to shabby bedding, broken toys, torn clothing, etc. As others mentioned, the quality of care that they received (in terms of being loved and fed and educated) was what stood out to me- as it was what kept them as emotionally healthy as possible during a traumatic period in their lives, and more importantly, balanced out any sense of bleakness from their surroundings.

    Don't get me wrong, it was downright dismal to us as Americans, the smell of urine and the kids wearing old shoes with holes worn in the toes that were several sizes too big, or the children playing soccer with a deflated ball on a broken concrete "field". But what haunts me to this day are the memories of children sidling up to me and taking my hands, wanting to sit on my lap and play with my hair and have their pictures taken with me. Or the kids who bluntly asked if I knew someone who could adopt them. The kids were, for the most part, quite cheerful...but they knew what they were missing out on by living at the orphanage and it wasn't nicer facilities and unfortunately, it's not something that can be fixed with money or a sponsorship.

  10. We just committed to adopt a sweet 4.5 year old girl with HIV from Ukraine, and we are trying to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS orphans- they need families. HIV+ kids in Ukraine (if they live to be 16) are tossed out of the orphange where they live on the streets and in the sewers. SO SAD. We're also adopting from Ethiopia, and we're considering adopting HIV+ there also now. Our hearts have been so touched by the beautiful resilience of the HIV+ children in the world.

  11. We visited AHOPE in 7/08 and although the surroundings were "bleak" we heard from a volunteer from England that other transition homes were so incredibly much worse. When I returned to the US I contacted AAI concerning a 4 year old girl we had met. I was told that there was a waiting list for hiv+ girls age 0-5.
    If we could afford to adopt again from Ethiopia, it would be a hiv+ child. Anyone want to sponsor us?