Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Weights and Measures

Meazi and Melese wandered onto this old scale at a birthday party. Their bellies were full of cheeseburgers and cupcakes. Melese was on it by himself, and while watching him my mind flashed to that picture of a malnourished Ethiopian child in a feeding scale. Do you remember the picture I am talking about? I can't find it now, but it was a picture of a food distribution center where families went to get Plumpy Nut. They had to be a certain weight to get it. If you have been to Ethiopia, and you are now following what is happened in the Horn of Africa, it is impossible not to constantly see those hungry kids when looking at your own kids. They don't have to be on a scale to notice it.

What to do? I feel like anyone who reads this blog already cares about Ethiopia and supports organizations that they believe in. For those readers who may be looking for a way to help, here are some suggestions:
 Tesfa. I have basically walked into the boardroom of Tesfa, and pinned my heart onto their bulletin board. I believe that they are the organization that can help my Ethiopian family the most. The new school and library in M&m's village will change many, many, lives. While they are not directly doing famine relief,  they are educating future leaders and thinkers. Although our school in Kololo is fully funded, they still need funds to keep all of their current programs strong. Tesfa  Ethiopia Reads, and The Fregenet Foundation are my ideas, here are some of my wise friends' ideas:
Mudula water is a network of adoptive families, supporters and the non-profit organization Children's Home Society and Family Services. It's goal is to  develop a gravity water scheme for Mudula, a town or "kebele" of 10,000 people in Southern Ethiopia. A natural spring that pumps 5 liters per second sits in the mountains, 2000 feet about the kebele, waiting to be tapped. Mudula Water will harness that natural spring, and feed to the people below. The impact on the Mudula society and surrounding areas upon completion of the project will be quick and significant. Positive effects of the project will include sustainability, feasibility and community driven involvement within the society, leading to a stronger sense of local responsibility. Vital health and hygiene education, as well as technical training will also be provided to the community. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this project will not only give people clean water, it will relieve the burden of women and children who spend hours every day, sometimes multiple times every day, fetching water.  They will have time to run small businesses, to do household chores, to tend to their farms and to get an education.

Mudula is located in the drought zone of East Africa and is in dire need of water. This project is crucial now more than ever. This is a grassroots fundraising effort and we are continuously looking for support.   We cannot do this without you. For more information please visit or visit to donate to our wonderful relay team, the Mudula Mamas, who are racing in the Janus Charity Challenge to raise money for our cause!   Together we can deliver potable water to over 10,000 people, keep girls in school, improve sanitation, and end the cycle of poverty.

Molly, who adopted a girl from Mudula, which in the Southwest region of Ethiopia, started a non-profit called Hope by Twelve . They have several projects their girlpods are raising money for, but one in particular is in dire need of help. The Mudula Water project is a gravity flow water system that will deliver clean water to the rural village of Mudula (Molly’s daughter’s home village and where her daughter’s family is still located) and surrounding villages.  With the current drought in the Horn of Africa, it is now more vital than ever that they quickly raise the money necessary to build the water project.What is a girlpod? A girlpod is girls helping girls. It’s a simple solution. But it has the power to change the world. And it’s easier than you might think.

If you are interested in getting involved with Hope by Twelve,  if you know any girls or boys that might be interested in helping raise funds with Hope by Twelve, or you and your kids want to start a girlpod (boys are welcome too!) in your area, email Molly at

You can find them at: 

Sarah Lensen has started, Ask5for5 :

I began pursuing a BIG dream two weeks ago. After deciding I could no longer avoid the news about the famine in the horn of Africa, I had that gut feeling that I couldn't sit this one out. I HAD to do something because I could. Something bigger than I could do alone. That's when #Ask5for5 was born.
Two of my children, Ashen and Bereket, were adopted and are from the region affected by the drought in Ethiopia. They would be two of the statistics if they still lived there. I see my son’s and daughter’s faces in the photos of those suffering in the refugee camps. It could have been him. It could have been her. The thought haunts me. And moms just like us are watching their children go hungry day after day. I can't imagine what it's like, but I have to –I have to be there to help them, because it could have been my children. These families have lost their livestock, their crops, food prices are inflated at the market if there any food there, and don’t have any more lifelines to tap into. Many are traveling hundreds of miles through parched land in hope of finding help. Many are dying along the way. It is estimated that 29,000 children have died in the last 90 days in the famine in Somalia alone.

But I KNOW we can do something about it. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, we can rally ourselves and our friends to respond! I set up a fundraiser through See Your Impact. 100% of your gift will go to the relief and development organization World Vision, where it will be combined with government grants to multiply up to 5 times in impact!
  It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:
  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (
  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.
  3. Share Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter, and join our page to stay updated too! 
My dear friend Meghan is working with Doctors Without Borders again. Read this post. And donate HERE. She is also working on funding grain stations in Hadero. Leave a comment on her blog or mine if you'd like more information about that opportunity.

Please feel free to add your own ideas in the comments.

In the morning I will make Meazi and Melese their favorite breakfast, Trader Joe's whole wheat Farina. We'll add two cups of whole milk, and gobs and gobs of our home brewed honey. Meazi will say, "Mmmm, mom my belly feels sooooooo warm." Melese will spill his on his lap, and we will get him another bowl. Maybe we won't be thinking about their brothers and sisters at that exact moment...
maybe we will.


  1. Julie, thanks so much for pulling this together. It's so easy to feel paralysed, but we're not paralysed, we've got the resources to do something. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. We just did the same post, but I forgot to add Mudula, STUPID. Going to add it now.

  3. Thanks Julie for posting. Just commented on Staci's and will be posting my own as well. It scares me that for many people this is so removed and so far away...I can't watch any of the videos without falling apart. The more awareness we can get out there, the better!!

  4. Julie, what a great post. Yes, many of us parents left part of our hearts in Ethiopia. My son was also from Southern Ethiopia, near Soddo which you can find on google maps. We're directly involved with an organization called Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children ( They are a small, grassroots organization started by a local Ethiopian who wanted to give back to those in need - his own community. FOVC focuses specifically on orphans and widows and their impacts are life-changing!

    Right now FOVC has a Feed Hope campaign to raise $ to feed families for 4 months during this drought. All money donated to Feed Hope goes directly to meeting the exact needs of the locals. In fact, 4 of us are headed to Ethiopia in October to bring food in from Kenya, meet medical needs and then also work with them on long term help by continuing to develop the crops program that I started in May. We'll be focusing specifically on growing crops during these stinkin' droughts. You can read more about it on the fOVC site or on my blog.

    Thanks again.

    Tamara B

  5. Thank you so much for posting this, Julie. Since the cross-posting blogging effort on Thursday, we've raised almost $8K and are up to $15K over all and still going strong! So thrilled to see so many people putting their weight behind efforts that allow Ethiopians be who they were made to be: Strong, Capable and Generous.