Christmas at CCC by Nathan Haines

I think it’s probably universal across time, place and culture that food is a central component of any special holiday. Probably you recognized that when you stepped on the scale recently after the past couple of weeks of holiday indulging. It’s no different in Ethiopia. I knew it was holiday time when Yaicob and Ermias walked down the hill from the market to CCC with an ox on Wednesday afternoon.

This past Thursday (Jan. 7) was the Christmas holiday here in Ethiopia. Ethiopians call it Genna. Because Ethiopia follows a sort of modified Julian calendar, like other Christian Orthodox countries around the world, Christmas lands on Jan. 7 of the more internationally recognized Gregorian calendar. I was able to spend several days in Soddo at the CCC Children’s Home this week. In Ethiopia, the special holiday food is always meat. Some celebrate the Christmas meal with a special chicken dish, called doro waht. Others, including the kids and staff at CCC, celebrated with a slab of raw beef, called kort or just teray siga (“raw meat”). In the southern regions such as Wolaita, this kort is eaten with a special spicy sauce called dahta.

But Christmas day at CCC is marked by more than just consumption of raw meat. The staff and kids organize some special activities and programs; this year, the kids took the leadership on organizing the celebration program.

It started on Wednesday. The kids had the day off from school, but they were still awoke early. Even before breakfast, they were sweeping and scrubbing their rooms to make sure everything was spotless for the holiday. After all the cleaning was complete, it was time for haircuts and styling. The older kids each received 10-20 birr (50 cents – a dollar) and they headed to town, the boys for a trim at the barber, the girls for styling or braiding at the salon. By afternoon, everyone had some fresh looking hair. Next came the decorating and organizing. During the week prior, the kids had collected a little money from each of the staff to purchase some decorations and candy for the holiday, so after lunch, some kids headed back to town to make some purchases, while others stayed back to practice their drama skits and their song performances, or to begin decorating their bedrooms. Several of the rooms organized a decorating contest to see which room would look the best for the holiday. This decorating involved paper streamers, cutout hearts and shapes, and hand-colored pictures on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, and posted on the windows.


By late afternoon Wednesday the kids were going around with a hat and having all the kids and staff draw names for a gift exchange. This was a new addition to the program this year and the kids were super excited about it. Everyone was whispering about who had whose name and what sort of gift each would arrange. Without any personal money they had to be creative with these gifts; this kept many occupied for the rest of the day.

Everyone was awake early again on Thursday morning for Christmas. Some were busy practicing for the afternoon program, some putting the finishing touches on gifts and decorations. A few had the idea to wrap their gifts, which spurred all the others to figure out how to arrange some wrapping. By mid-morning, most of the kids were dressed in some nice clean clothes and were off to church for the church Christmas program. The only kids who remained behind were those actively involved in the slaughter of the ox and the food preparations for lunch. The only hitch in the morning was when Ermias, in the process of the ox slaughter, sliced into his finger nearly to the bone and had to be run off to the clinic for stitches. Fortunately, it wasn’t serious and he was back to the ox within an hour.

By about 2 pm the meat was all prepared and each kid received a plate of either tibs (pieces of fried meat) or kort, laid out on a plate of injera, with a good helping of dahta on the side. Holiday meals are also special because, not unlike back in North America, the holidays are a great homecoming time. All the older kids who now live up in town in our transitional program come home to CCC for the holiday. There are lots of greetings and stories and the younger ones enjoy all the attention of these older ones. Even a few of the university students (Nebiyu, Asfaw and Girma) and former graduates (Tesfaun and Assegid) made an appearance. Nearly all the staff came in the afternoon for the program, many with their own kids, which further added to the big sense of extended family that is CCC. After everyone had enjoyed to their fill and the dishes were cleared, the cafeteria was quickly transformed for the afternoon program, MCed by Omodar and Frehiwot.

Some candy, biscuits and popcorn were passed around for the children, freshly roasted coffee for the adults. Balloons and streamers were on the wall, and music played on the radio. Omodar and Frehiwot opened the program with a short drama skit, followed by a holiday welcome speech by Adisu (in both Amharic and English… for my benefit, I suppose). Some of the girls (Konjit, Nani, Mitten, Eyayu, Meskerem and Aster) performed a song and dance routine, followed by another drama skit. Then Omodar and Frehiwot led a Christmas quiz. Several of the kids were brought up and asked questions about the Christmas story and awarded with candies for correct answers. Next were the games. First, one that involved a long string with a lollipop in the middle and one girl on either end with the string in her mouth. The first to draw the string all the way to the lollipop using only her mouth won the lollipop. Mekdas was victorious. Then a balloon popping game: two kids, each with a balloon tied to his ankle, struggled to pop the other’s balloon. Little Wendu and Abi were highly entertaining as they competed in this one. Lastly a blindfold game, where with a little cheating, Mamo was able to beat Titay to the hidden candy bar.


And then finally the gift exchange: one by one, each child or staff came up, received a gift and then gave a gift. Little bottles of perfume, hand-made cards, paper airplanes, bottle-top toys, pens, pencils, pictures, etc. were exchanged; of course, they were all meticulously wrapped (in paper, plastic, pillow cases, banana leaves, etc.). After opening gifts, enjoying some more popcorn (and candy and biscuits), the kids ran off to play (or lie down with indigestion after too much kort). It was a wonderful day and a great celebration; it was made that much more special because of the great initiative of the kids themselves to organize the program.

The kids will all return to school again on Tuesday. Titay and I returned back to Addis yesterday (Friday) and we too must begin back to school and work on Monday and Tuesday. As always, it was great to get down to Soddo and spend a few days with the kids at CCC. Especially at holiday time, it’s always one of my highlights. Titay clearly felt the same way. While driving back yesterday, after waking up from a nap in the backseat, she said, “Dad, when can we go to CCC and just stay for like a month?”

As they say at Christmas time here in Ethiopia, “Melkam Genna” and “Enkwan abero aderesen.”


#Giving Tuesday



Please join Aerie Africa in celebrating #GivingTuesday, a day of giving thanks and giving back

Give Education!

Give Hope!

Change a life forever!


In a country like Ethiopia, where only 38% of youth are enrolled in 9th grade and only 10% advance to 11th grade, the impact of education can be profound.  We at Aerie Africa have seen first-hand how a formal education equips children with knowledge, builds self-esteem, keeps them safe, and restores dignity and hope for a brighter future.

Now in our 14th year, Aerie Africa is dedicated to providing a home for orphaned children in Soddo, Ethiopia.  We are committed to creating a safe and healthy environment so the children can attain the highest level of education possible.  We start with pre-school, support them through primary and secondary school and ultimately work with each child to find the right path whether it is vocational school or university.

It costs us approximately $150 to educate one child per year including tuition, uniforms, books, and supplies.  Our #GivingTuesday goal is to raise $10,950 to ensure our precious children get the education they deserve.  Please give today – simply click the Donate Now button to the right.

Thanks to a generous donor, the first $1,000 in donations on Giving Tuesday will be matched.

Please donate NOW!

Thank you!


Aerie Africa – CCC – ICS

Beautiful post written by Nathan Haines.  Aerie Africa, CCC, and ICS are blessed to have Nathan as a teacher, supporter, and mentor.

April 22, 2015

This was a conversation that happened in one of my 8th grade English classes this past week:

Me: Okay class, we’ve got to submit these LifeBook pages so that we can be done with our Week Without Walls stuff and get into a new unit.

Esete: But Mr. Haines… we don’t really want to be done with Week Without Walls.

Tamar: Yeah. We should plan another trip back to Soddo. We could all go for like two days and deliver these LifeBooks to them ourselves.

Lei: Plus… I want a re-match on the soccer pitch.

The trip in March was absolutely exhausting and I cannot even fathom arranging another trip down there this year, but this interaction with my students this past week was rewarding nonetheless.

March 23-27 was the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work on both ends of my life here in Ethiopia; on the Addis end where I teach at the International Community School (ICS) of Addis Ababa (, and on the Soddo end where I help with the Aerie Africa-funded CCC Children’s Home. Though a culmination in some ways, because of its success it’s also just the beginning of a potentially long-term relationship that I believe can greatly benefit the CCC Children’s Home.

In the summer of 2012, Richelle, Titay and I left our home of one year at the CCC Children’s Home in Wolaita Soddo and moved to Addis Ababa. Since that time, I have remained involved with CCC, while teaching at ICS. My Addis work and life and my Soddo work and life have often felt like two very different worlds, but about a year ago, despite a little trepidation, I decided to slam to the two worlds together and hope it would work.

An important part of the curriculum at ICS is what we call our “Week Without Walls” (WWW) program. Each grade, from 6th-12th, participates in a weeklong learning experience away from the walls of the school, somewhere around the country. As an 8th grade team teacher, I participated for two years with the 8th grade class WWW trip to Axum, an important historical site in northern Ethiopia. These WWW trips go beyond just a weeklong school trip and are integrated into larger curriculum units. For example, our Axum WWW trip was always the culmination of a social studies unit on Ethiopian history. Despite the value of this Axum trip, for a couple of years the 8th grade team of teachers had been discussing the possibility of a new kind of trip that would involve a greater long-term relationship with a particular Ethiopian community and incorporate a service learning component. So it was that about a year ago, not long after our last Axum trip, that I proposed to the team: “How about a WWW learning experienced centered around a partnership between the 8th grade class at ICS and the CCC Children’s Home in Soddo?” After I took 3 other members of the teacher team with me to Soddo to visit CCC last June, we all agreed to give it a try. Both our principal and the WWW program coordinator were onboard, and so the collision of my worlds began.

Our plans were ambitious. We wanted to develop a yearlong relationship between the two sides, one that would not be based on one-way charity, but rather on a mutual learning exchange, beneficial to both sides. We also wanted to fold the weeklong trip into a multi-disciplinary, authentic learning experience for our ICS 8th graders. So…

In science class, our 8th graders, in the midst of a unit about clean energy and electrical circuits, built solar-powered, LED-light, desk lamps for the purpose of helping the CCC kids study and do their homework on the evenings of power outages. These lamps were quite ingenious. Students repurposed electronic waste such as wires, resistors and magnetic toroid rings from used CFL bulbs. They boosted the voltage from two ‘AAA’ rechargeable batteries using a nifty circuit design called a “joule thief” in order to power double LED lights. They did all their own soldering (with only minor burns). And they participated in a lamp stand design competition.

Lamp 2


In English class, as part of their learning about reading and writing memoir, students created LifeBooks for the kids at CCC. Memoir is a genre that involves the author making meaning of an important moment in his or her life and communicating that meaning to others. The LifeBook is an idea that comes from those who work in foster care in the US. A LifeBook is basically a scrapbook of a child’s important moments, not unlike the scrapbooks that many parents keep about their children with baby pictures, first words, first steps, and lost teeth. A LifeBook, though, is designed so that the child can be the “author”. For children without parents, or without one consistent adult care-taker, a LifeBook can be something that allows them to take control over the preservation of their own life memories. Like memoir, it can help a child make meaning of important moments in his or her life. Creating these LifeBooks involved ICS students getting to know a partner at CCC and developing page templates, peppered with lots of pictures, of a book that their partner can complete further for him or herself in the future.

Lifebook cover

And finally…

In Social Studies class, ICS students conducted research into issues related to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), developed a community needs / asset survey for CCC, interpreted the data after the survey was completed by the children and staff at CCC, and then developed their own project proposals of ways to contribute positively to CCC. The three winning student proposals were: a) a remodeling of the CCC library to create a more conducive space of reading, studying and homework, b) developing academic tutorial materials, including instructional videos and learning games, and c) creating some home-made toys and drama materials so that the kids at CCC had some different kinds of simple props and toys for imaginative play.


The actual week we spent at CCC in Soddo started on Monday morning with an early bus departure from ICS, followed by a 5-hour drive southward. After arriving in Soddo and getting settled into a hotel, ICS students received a tour of the CCC home and introduction to staff. As the CCC kids began arriving back from their school day, there was time to meet and get to know each other, ending the afternoon with some soccer on the CCC soccer pitch. On Tues. and Wed., while the CCC kids were in school, ICS students remodeled the library, built a shade over the CCC stage, visited the schools that CCC kids attend, created tutorial materials, and made toy cars and sock puppets. Each afternoon when CCC kids returned from school, the time was filled with organized games together and demonstrations of the solar lamps. Each day ended with some organized sport: Tues. was “dimo,” a type of tag / dodge-ball game often played at CCC; Wed. was volleyball, after we set up a temporary net on the soccer pitch.

Volleyball Toys

In order to take in a bit of the beautiful Wolaita countryside, Thurs. morning involved an ICS hike. One group went up Mt. Damota, the 9000 ft peak just north of Soddo town, while another group hiked into the Damota Cave, a large cave in the side of Mt. Damota that includes a cascading spring over the mouth of the cave. Thursday afternoon included two culminating championship soccer matches, one boys and one girls, ICS vs. CCC. Both matches, though competitive, resulted in CCC victories. ICS players learned that there were some unique skills involved in playing on an uneven, dusty, red-dirt pitch. Thurs. evening was our ending celebration with lots of roasted goat, speeches, gifts, a bonfire, some Wolaitan dancing, and a few tearful good-byes. Friday was our return travel day, with a couple of hours stopover at Lake Langano for some Rift Valley swimming, before battling the Friday afternoon traffic back into Addis.


It was a remarkable week. It turned out to be a deeply rewarding and beneficial experience for both sides; both ICS and CCC agreed that it’s a relationship we want to continue into future years. Since returning from Soddo, ICS students have presented their experience to parents and finished the LifeBooks (which will be delivered to CCC next week), and the 8th grade teacher team has already begun plans for next year. We haven’t eased off the ambitious ideas either. Among some working ideas so far: factor in an additional trip early in the year where ICS students and the CCC kids meet part-way for an overnight of camping at Lake Langano, have some of the older CCC kids visit ICS in Addis for a couple of days and attend classes, schedule our WWW trip next March for Thurs. through Mon. so that we have a full weekend with the kids at CCC while they’re out of school.


So no, Esete, Tamar and Lei, we will not be making another trip to Soddo this year as a class of 50. That thought exhausts me. But, I’m grateful the experience went well, I’m happy my two worlds have collided and benefitted each other, and I’m looking forward to continuing the relationship into next year.

New Year – A little late

Following is a blog post written by Nathan on New Year’s Day.  We are a little late posting but this is definitely worth reading.  We are so blessed to have Nathan as part of our network of volunteers.  He is terrific and so dedicated to the children at CCC.

2014 in Review

This is not New Year’s Day in Ethiopia, and it hasn’t just rolled over to 2015. Because Ethiopia functions on a unique Ethiopian Orthodox calendar, today is actually the 23rd day of the 4th month (Tahsas) in 2007. However, the New Year holiday still feels like a great time to reflect back on the last year at the CCC Children’s Home. As we close out 2014, I must say that since I’ve been a part of Aerie Africa and CCC, I have never been more pleased with the accomplishments at the home. Below are just a small list of the highlights:

  • We currently have 6 students succeeding in government university programs. This is the most we’ve ever had.
  • For the first time for Aerie Africa / CCC, two of these 6 government university students are female. We count this as a tremendous accomplishment given the social-cultural obstacles to education that exist for girls.
  • One reason for the improved success of our university students has been because of generous sponsors willing to help provide laptops for our university students. For the first time ever, each of our government university students has a functional laptop computer to help in his or her studies.
  • Also related to girls’ education, we were excited that 2014 saw CCC with two of our girls accepted at the Liqa School in Soddo, considered an elite academic school for Soddo since it only accepts those who can succeed on its rigorous entrance exam.
  • In addition to government university students, we also had 6 students in private higher education programs in 2014, two of which recently finished diplomas in nursing.
  • Fall 2014 also involved two CCC students starting government vocational programs in skill fields with promising jobs for the future (auto mechanics and construction management).
  • Five new boys joined the CCC home in 2014 (Abi, Mamo, Paster, Tege and Wondimu). Though the circumstances that bring children to the CCC home are not usually reasons to celebrate, in the case of these 5 boys, who came to us from another orphanage, we are confident the CCC home can provide them with a more stable and healthier home, and we do celebrate that they are all strong and thriving.
  • This year finally (huge sign of relief personally from me) saw the completion of our deep borehole well project. We were able to get it functional last spring with the installation and some repairs to an old diesel generator. We were able to get it fully operational this fall after finally receiving and installing our 3 phase electric transformer, and setting up some additional water storage capacity. The CCC home in 2015 will be completely self reliant for water.
  • With the completion of the well project, our next priority was to overhaul the home’s plumbing. With the help of the head plumber at the International Community School in Addis, we were able to replace all toilets, showers, sinks, fixtures, drains (including installing smell-traps for the first time) and pipes in the dormitory house at the end of 2014.
  • We had 6 new students transition into our 3 year transitional program in 2014, bringing our total number in this program (including those away at university) to 17, our largest number yet. We are very proud of this program, which involves kids transitioning out of the CCC home around age 18 to live in pairs in rented rooms in town. They are provided with money for rent, food, clothing and school, while they develop the skills to live as independent adults.
  • Some students and teachers of Renewable Energy Engineering at John Brown University in Arkansas recently reached out to us about partnering around some energy related projects at the home. This fall a group of students completed a solar power assessment and proposal for the home. Though at this point, it’s just a proposal, we’re hoping it may lead to some future innovations that could reduce CCC’s dependence the costly and unreliable electric grid.

We have many things to look forward to in 2015. Just to name a few…

  • We have high hopes for our three 12th grade students who will be taking the 12th grade national exams in 2015.
  • We are eagerly anticipating the graduation of our first government university student, who will graduate in June with a health officer (public health) degree.
  • We are looking forward to another wedding in 2015, the third of our CCC kids to grow up and get married. Though we are clear that marriage is not a goal in itself, because of the high cultural value of marriage in Wolaita, we see these weddings as successful examples of the social and cultural integration of our kids; this is important given the institutional nature of their childhoods. Until the date is formally set, we’ll keep the name a mystery.
  • Now that we have the CCC home completely water self-reliant, we hope to extend the privilege of our abundant and clean water source out to some of the immediate community around CCC. The final step of our vision will be to install one last pipe and a tap for public access to the water. We plan to set up a controlled distribution schedule that will allow local households to get water a couple of times per week.
  • March 2015 will see the fulfillment of a partnership that has been developing between the 8th grade class at the International Community School in Addis and the CCC home. The school in Addis will make a trip with about forty-five 8th graders to spend a week with the kids at CCC. This week will involve lots of projects and activities together, including the making of some really cool solar powered lamps, using some re-purposed electronic waste and reused plastic water bottles.
  • The students in Renewable Energy Engineering at John Brown University are planning to develop a proposal for the CCC home during the 2015 spring semester for a biofuel digester that could provide biogas for cooking at the home. This could be a great means to reduce our reliance on cooking with charcoal and firewood, which have both negative health and environmental consequences.

Of course, nothing in 2014 could have been possible without the help of donors and sponsors through Aerie Africa. 2014 saw the on-going commitment of long-time sponsors; it also brought in new sponsors to the Aerie Africa family, and included a successful fall fund-raising campaign, putting Aerie Africa in a strong position for the new 2015 budget. It’s been a great year for Aerie Africa and CCC, and we are looking forward to another great year in 2015. Thanks again for all your support. Happy New Year and blessings to you in 2015.

– Nathan Haines

Give the Gift of Education This Holiday Season! #Giving Tuesday


Please join us for a special day of Giving Thanks and Giving Back!

From Tuesday, December 2 through Wednesday, December 31, 2014, the Board of Directors of Aerie Africa is celebrating it’s supporters and #GivingTuesday by matching the first $2,000 in charitable contributions during this time. 

Thanks to many generous donors, our 2014 annual fall campaign is off to a great start.   However, with one month to go, we still need to raise $8,000 so that we can continue to care for and educate the very special children of Aerie Africa.

It costs approximately $145 per year to educate one child in the private school system in Soddo, Ethiopia.  Our children are not eligible for international adoption so education is the most powerful means of helping them achieve their dreams and improving their quality of life.

Every dollar raised during this final month will go directly to fund our education related expenses. 

We are very proud of all of the children’s academic accomplishments and each one deserves their own story but today, we would like to share some of the amazing accomplishments of our girls.


The access and achievement gap between boys and girls in Ethiopia is well documented and despite that, our girls are thriving and breaking new ground every day:

  •  We currently have 3 girls in in the selective Liqa School in Soddo, which is nationally known for its high academic standards (only accepts top 5% of students based on grades and a rigorous entrance exam).
  • Three of our older girls are currently enrolled in University degree programs.  They are studying engineering, business administration and humanities.
  • At the end of the 2013-14 school year, we had 16 of our children, including several girls, rank in the top 10 of their respective classes, which could be as large as 60 students in the lower grades.

These are truly remarkable accomplishments and none of this would be possible if we were not able to pay for the school tuition, textbooks, uniforms and other school related supplies.

Please make a year-end gift to Aerie Africa so that our children can continue to get the education they deserve.


No gift is too large or too small.  You are making a life changing investment in these children.  We cannot replace their family but together we can show them love, support and hope for a brighter future.

Above all, thank you for your time and interest in our children.

Please click on the Donate Now button on the right hand side of this blog to easily make your donation.


The Aerie Africa Board of Directors


Making a Difference 2014

This fall, we are raising funds to supplement our sponsorships (which cover 70% of the operating budget), upgrade the plumbing, and rewire the CCC home for a safer electrical system. Our goal is to raise $30,000.  Please consider donating $365 – just a dollar a day to make a tremendous difference to very special children.



 Donate Now!

Aerie Africa supports 74 children – nine students in university, two students in nursing school, 10 young adults in the Aerie Transition program, and 53 children in the CCC Children’s Home in Soddo, Ethiopia. The CCC orphanage is a bright airy home specially built for the children with 8 big bedrooms, a library, a dining hall, two kitchens, two play areas, a futbul (soccer) field, a huge vegetable garden, and six acres for our three cows. We employ a staff of 19 to care for the children from House Mothers to Nanny Nurses to a Dean of Students.

The children attend school, Saturday church school (instead of Sunday school), and church. They love singing, futbol, arts and crafts, and games. They learn life skills by assisting in the kitchen, working in the vegetable garden, and helping tend the cows.

We are making a pronounced difference in the children’s lives. Please take a moment to read about our terrific kids.

 University Students

Mindahun, Adanech, Assegid, Asfaw, and Asrat are our current university students. They have completed between two to three years of university and are all doing well. Assegid who is studying to be a health officer had a special internship this summer in Mekele and Mindahun took a special course in Awassa. All students were able to come to Soddo for a few weeks this summer to check in and visit with their CCC family. They are great role models for the teenage and pre-teen students.



New University Students

Serkalem, Girma, and Nebiyu had excellent scores on their 12th grade examination and will begin university next month. Messeret Y had a good score on her examination and will attend night university in Soddo. We are proud to have three young women attending university. According to USAID, only 19% of Ethiopian girls starting first grade finish 8th grade and 6% complete 12th grade.IMG_1661




Nursing Students

Yodit and Damanech have completed nursing school in Addis Ababa. Both passed their level 2 certification and will be soon taking the test for their level 3 certification. Both are actively looking for jobs and will graduate from the Aerie/CCC program in December. They have done great. We are sad they are leaving us but happy for the wonderful women they are.

Aerie Transition Students

Abayneh, Chernet, Binyam, Mesganu, and Helen F are currently in the Aerie Transition program. Abayneh completed 11th grade at Bethlehem Prep School in June and was in the top 10 of his class. Mesganu and Helen F also completed 11th grade. They will all be starting 12th grade on September 15. In October, Chernet and Binyam will begin vocational school.

Later this month, Michael, Tesfanesh, Habitamu, Asnakie, America, and Mimilla will be graduating into the Aerie Transition program. Michael, Tesfanesh, and Habitamu did very well on their 10th grade examination and will be attending Bethlehem Prep School for 11th and 12th grade. Asnake, America and Mimilla will soon start 10th grade.




8th and 9th Graders

Meseret L and Dawit took their 8th grade examination in May. They both scored over 90% and will be moving to 9th grade.  Tsganesh completed 9th grade and will be soon starting 10th grade. We are having Helen B repeat 9th grade to give her a little time to catch up.



5th and 6th Graders

Abeba and Tesfahun completed 5th grade and Samirawit, Weynishet, Zinash, Omodar, and Firehiwot completed 6th grade in June. Weynishet, Firehiwot, and Omodar were in the top 10 of their class. Omodar is attending Liqa School, a private school in Soddo that is very competitive and was recently recognized nationally for excellence. Samirawit, Zinash and Abeba are hard workers who spend a lot of time helping in the kitchen. Abeba also takes a responsible older sister role in the lives of her two younger sisters.  Tesfahun enjoys playing futbul on the CCC field.



4th Graders

Biniam, Mekdes, Addisu, Sebsibe, Merdekyos, Banchiwosen, and Birknesh completed 4th grade in June. Merdekyos was number one in his class! Banchiwosen, Biniam, Mekdes and Addisu were in the top 10 of their classes. Banchiwosen and Mekdes were accepted and will attend Liqa School this fall.

IMG_4068 IMG_4088











3rd Graders

Dushure, Aregash, Hanna, Ammanuel, Meaza, Asnakech, Agene, Fitsum, Melkamu, Habitamu M, Selemawit, Berket Y, and Zalieke completed 3rd grade in June. We have a lot of 3rd graders! Aregash, Asnakech, Agene, and Zalieke were in the top 10 of their classes.






2nd Graders

Addisu, Ayenachu, and Adegu completed 2nd grade in June. Adegu and Ayenachew have both adjusted well to CCC (they joined CCC last year).  All three, as with many of the boys, love playing futbol.  They watched the world cup very closely this past summer.  The boys at CCC were split over whether or not they were happy about the German victory.  Some had been cheering for Argentina and Mesi… others had been cheering for Germany all along.  The boys are also getting excited about the next round of qualifying matches for the African Cup of Nations futbol competition.  Ethiopia plays it’s first match in the qualifying rounds against Algeria this week.  In addition to watching futbol, all three of these boys play regularly on the CCC futbol field… Adegu and Ayenachew also play on the CCC team, which also includes players from the community in Soddo.


1st Graders

Belan and Faris completed 1st grade in June. They were both in the top 10 of their class.


Kindergarten Crowd

Ammanuel A, Aster, Yabsera, Yinun, Berket J, Konjit J, Abitie, Meskerem, Eyayu, Johannes, and Yamanesh (Mitten) all attended kindergarten the last school year. Kindergarten is two to three years in Ethiopia. This is a great group of kids. They are smiles, laughter, and high energy.













Our Littlest Ones

Metasebya and our five new boys – Paster, Tegenu, Abenezer, Wondimu, and Mamush are our youngest children. Metasebya and Paster will start kindergarten later this month and the others will attend pre-school at CCC starting in October. The new boys are adjusting well and are much more healthy than when they arrived. The older children are giving them lots of attention and love.

photo IMG_0983 photo photo photo












The deep bore water well is functioning and providing clean water. The children are much healthier and the compound is much cleaner with a constant supply of water. We are very grateful to all our donors who enable us to drill and equip the well.

We received the three-phase transformer for the water well pump in August. This was great news – we had been waiting for it for over two years.

We will now use the generator for emergency power when the Soddo electricity goes out.

photo photo












Next Projects

Both the plumbing and the electrical systems need a major overhaul at CCC. Constant use by over 50 children for over 10 years has taken a toll on the bathrooms and showers. We have many leaks (both major and minor). The electrical system needs to be rewired to update it for both load and safety issues.

We need your help! Help us continue to make difference!

Please donate today at or by clicking DONATE NOW.

Aerie Africa is a 501(3)c tax exempt organization (Tax ID#27-0382888).

Five New Boys – We Need Sponsors


Five boys ranging in age from 2 years to 6 years have recently joined the CCC/Aerie Africa family. These boys were previously living in an orphanage in Soddo under difficult conditions. The orphanage has lost in funding from a US agency and is being funded in a very limited way by an international organization.

We are happy that we can bring these boys into CCC and provide a warm loving home for them.

Please consider making a difference and sponsoring one or more of these precious children. Sponsorship is $900 per year. We also ask that you send a package in August to your child for Ethiopian New Year (Back to School) and occasionally send letters or cards.

The boys (from left to right) are:

Mamush – Three years old. Mamush is from Gidole, a small town south of Soddo. His mother had a disability and was unable to care for Mamush. His father was unknown.

Tegenu – Five years old. Tegenu was found abandoned at the Soddo bus station. The police searched for his parents and family for three months. No one could be found.

Paster – Six years old. Paster was also found abandoned at the Soddo bus station. The police also searched for his parents and family for three months. No one could be found.

Abenezer – Three years old. Abenezer’s father is unknown. His mother abandoned him when he was an infant. The Department of Women’s Affairs in Soddo tried to locate the mother but she was never found.

Wondimu – Two years old. Wondimu was found abandoned in the town of Soddo. The police search for his parents and family for three months. No one could be found.

If you are interested in sponsoring, please email

A New Roof for the Aerie Africa/CCC Home

The current Aerie Africa/CCC Children’s Home was constructed during the year of 2005. The home includes 2 main buildings. The smaller of the main buildings houses the cafeteria and kitchen for the home. The larger of the main buildings, the residence building, houses 8 dormitory-style rooms for the children, 2 storage rooms, offices for the Dean of Students and Head Nurse, a library and the main organization office for CCC.

For about 7 months out of the year, Soddo is quite dry and receives very little rain. The main rainy season is between July and mid-September. These months are very wet, often with heavy rains daily. These dry winters and very wet summers, combined with issues of erosion and it’s location on the hillside, caused some minor shifting of the building resulting in some gaps between and under the metal sheeting, thus allowing rainwater to leak through the ceiling on the west side of the building.

After consultation with Jeff Potts, a US architect with experience designing and overseeing construction projects at the Soddo Christian Hospital, it was determined that the roof should be replaced.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation, we were able to replace the original clay tiles with a metal sheet roof that is durable and typical for Ethiopian buildings. We were also able to repair the damaged ceiling, paint the roof and install new gutters to improve drainage.

This improvement would not be possible without the leadership of Nathan Haines and our partners Jeff Potts and the Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation. The rainy season has begun in Soddo and the new roof has meant dry rooms and happier kids! The new metal roof not only keeps the rain and moisture out but it has also improved the appearance of the building where the children reside.


The new roof before painting

The new roof before painting

roof final

The new roof painted with new gutters


Melkam Genna from Wolaitta Soddo

This post was written by Nathan Haines.

This week on Tuesday, January 7 was the celebration of the birth of Christ in the Ethiopian calendar; it’s the Ethiopian equivalent of Christmas.  The actual date here in Ethiopian today is Tahsus 29.  The difference between the date for Ethiopian Genna (Christmas) and the date in the “western” (Gregorian) calendar, is a combination of two factors:  first, Ethiopia follows a different calendar, similar to the Coptic Christian calendar, and somewhat based on the old Julian calendar (12 months of 30 days and 1 “month” of 5 days); second, traditionally Ethiopian Christianity has been Orthodox Christianity, and many Eastern Orthodox Christians around the world celebrate Christmas on January 7.

Though Ethiopians don’t celebrate the New Year on January 1, I thought, since it is a holiday here in Soddo, and since it’s now a new year for our sponsors in the US, I’d take a few minutes today, while in Soddo, to reflect back on 2013.

2013 was a good year for Aerie Africa and the Children’s Home.  Here are a just a few of the highlights for the year:

  • We were able to admit little Inatu to the Children’s Home after the closure of the orphanage where she was living, uniting her with 6 of her older siblings.
  • Terri Sebree and Suzanne Hanlon ­from the Aerie Africa board of directors visited with some sponsors and friends of Aerie in March.  The group was able to apply some fresh paint to the kids’ dorm rooms, replace some mattresses, pillows, and mosquito nets, do some medical checkups, and put in a new fence for the kids’ soccer field.
  • With the help of many generous donors and our partners, Water of Life International and Myungsung Christian Development, we were able to drill, case and test a beautiful new well that will soon be providing abundant and clean water to the Children’s Home (see below for explanation of “soon”).
  • Over the summer, we followed up on the new well by purchasing a submersible deep borehole pump and motor system, installing the necessary pipes from the well to our water tank, and building a small storage shed as our pump control shed.
  • All of our kids finished a good year in school in June; 17 of the kids ranked in the top 10 in their respective grade levels.
  • We had all 5 of our 8th grade students pass their 8th grade national exams in June.
  • We had 3 students qualify for university preparatory school based on their 10th grade national exam results in June.
  • We had two lovely volunteers (Megan and Laura) spend the summer at the Children’s Home.  Among other things, they did some academic enrichment and led some book groups with the kids.
  • All the children enjoyed an annual summer trip; this year we went swimming in some hot spring pools in Wendo Genet, followed by lunch next to the lake in Hawassa.
  • We were able to admit 3 new boys in August.  They had been living in temporary conditions at another facility in Soddo.  We are able to provide them with a better long-term home environment.
  • We welcomed a couple of new staff members to the Children’s Home.  Almaz took the position of Head Nurse after Eden moved to Addis, and Addisalem is our new store-keeper and librarian, replacing Mesgana who took another job in Hawassa.
  • In September we had one student (Helen F.) graduate out of the Children’s Home into the Aerie transitional program.
  • Also in September we had one student (Tesfaun P.) graduate out of the transitional program; he was accepted to Aerie to receive some higher education support to help him finish his surveying vocational program.
  • In September we had two students (Yodit and Domenech) graduate from nursing college.  They are now completing their national exams and nursing practice.
  • We had one student (Omodar) accepted for 6th grade in September into the elite Liqa school (Liqa accepts, by invitation only, students in the top 5% in Soddo and surrounding area).
  • In September, we celebrated the birth of baby Nazrawi, born to Meaza Gizaw.  Meaza grew up at the Children’s Home, graduated from the transitional program 3 years ago, was married two years ago, and now works in the kitchen at the home.
  • In October, Dr. Cynthia from the Aerie board of directors visited the Children’s Home.  She was able to complete some medical checks and do some follow up on some medical issues with the kids.
  • In December, the Children’s Home played host to the wedding of Afework Tekele (aka Binyam).  Afework also grew up at the Children’s Home, graduated from the transitional program 3 years ago, and now works making eye glasses at an eye clinic in Soddo.
  • In December, after many months of frustration trying to get a 3 phase transformer from the electric power utility, we were finally able to find an affordable pre-owned 3 phase diesel generator.  This generator has now been installed and properly connected to the submersible pump / motor control panel.  Unfortunately, because of holidays, we were not able to get the pump / motor installed before the end of 2013, but it’s scheduled for next week, after which we’ll be able to pump and use the water from our well.

Overall, it has been a very good year.  Despite some frustration about delays beyond our control, in getting the well up and running, we are greatly relieved and excited, to finally be nearing the completion of this project.  After the pump installation next week, beautiful, clean water will be flowing.  We hope, through persistence on the utility corporation, to still acquire the 3-phase transformer. In the meantime, though, we’re very happy with our generator set up.  I tested it with the electrician just this morning and it’s working perfectly for us.

I’d like to express a big thank you to all the supporters and sponsors who supported the Aerie Africa project, financial or otherwise.  From this side of the world, it is obvious that your support is making a difference in some lives.

Happy 2014 and, once again, Melkam Genna!

Afework’s Wedding

This post was written by Allie Sebree.

On Sunday, December 1, ­one of the CCC graduates, Afework Tekele, was married at the CCC compound.  Afework is 25 years old and graduated from the CCC – Aerie Africa program in 2010.  Afework joined CCC in 2003.  He attended public school through tenth grade and then attended vocational school.  He has worked at the eye clinic as a technician at Soddo Christian Hospital since he graduated from vocational school. He has attended training courses offered by MMI (Medical Ministry International) including one in the Dominican Republic. Afework provides important eye care services to the local community.    He married a young woman named Meseret

Traditionally in Ethiopia a wedding can go on for up to two weeks with several different celebrations.  The first part is the actual wedding, usually hosted by the groom’s family.  A few days later there is a melse that is hosted by the bride’s family.  Sometimes there is a third party called kelekel that is a mixture of both families.  Either family can host and only very close family and friends are invited, maybe 30 people, to mingle and get to know each other in a more private environment.

The day before the wedding was a busy time at CCC:

  • A tent was delivered and put up at the CCC compound.
  • The house mom’s were working diligently to prepare all the food.
  • Some of the CCC children were preparing a small song and dance number to preform for the wedding.
  • At Ethiopian weddings there is usually a stage inside the tent for the bride, groom, and their bridesmaids and groomsmen.  The CCC staff and older children were working hard to decorate this stage perfectly for Afework.
  • Special chairs are brought in for the bride and groom.

On the day of the wedding, the groom, along with his groomsmen and close friends, go to the bride’s house to pick her up.  The groom’s family and other friends wait at his house, which is where I was.  When they arrive at the bride’s house, there is usually dancing with the groomsmen and the bride’s close friends and family.  Then the bride and groom get into the designated wedding car.  They usually stand with the doors open and reach over the top of the car and take a few photographs before proceeding to town.  The rest of the people then load into cars, vans, or buses to drive through town.  The party then drives through the town honking and singing to show off the bride and groom.  There are usually quite a few motorbikes driving in circles around the caravan of cars.  When the party reaches a traffic circle they drive around it four or five times.  All of this is video taped and photographed.  The video man is usually riding backwards on a motorbike or in the back of a pick up truck in front of the wedding car holding the bride and groom.  The driving and honking usually takes about 45 minutes.


The driveway down to CCC is long and unpaved, making it difficult for cars to go all the way down.  So Afework and whole wedding party arrived at the top of the driveway and walked down to where we were all waiting.  All the CCC children were singing and dancing at the bottom of the hill to greet the wedding party. Behind Afework and Meseret were her friends and family who were also singing and dancing.  Once they reached the bottom of the hill, there was a line of “elders” sitting in the first row of chairs.  The elders are usually made up of parents and important “elder” people in the family.  The bride and groom, and their bridesmaids and groomsmen, then went down the line and kissed the knees of each elder.  Then they went up to the stage and sat in their chairs.


DSC_0871Once the wedding party was seated on stage, there was a bit more dancing and singing. Then everyone was seated.  Chu Chu, the CCC dean of students, then got up and spoke.  He congratulated Afework on behalf of all of CCC and gave a blessing.  After that 12 of the CCC children preformed their prepared song and dance.  Then a preacher came up to the stage and blessed the marriage.  After that the food was served, consisting of traditional Ethiopian food made for holidays and special occasions.  One of the special foods served is raw beef served with a very spicy dipping sauce.  Spicy chicken stew is also a delicacy here and was served.


Once everyone was finished eating, the wedding party went down below the CCC compound, where there is beautiful mountainous scenery, for the cake cutting ceremony and to take pictures.  After that they returned to the stage for the presentation of gifts.  Each person was called on stage one by one to give Afework and Meseret their gift.  This signaled the end of wedding.  They loaded up all the gifts into the car and everyone began to head home.

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