Archive for the ‘Ethiopia’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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!

Refurbishing in Ethiopia

Jane Hollingsworth wrote the following post.   She participated in the mission trip to Soddo, Ethiopia from March 9 – 16, 2013.

One of our goals for the week we visited Soddo and the orphanage was to fix up the girls’ rooms (saving the boys’ rooms until the next visit) with new paint and new mattresses for the beds.  The old mattresses were thin, foam mattresses that had been on the beds since the orphanage was first built.  Let’s just say it was time for a change!

Like with many things in Ethiopia, it may sound like a perfectly rational, simple plan to replace the mattresses, but easier said than done.  The painting went well as the paint had already been purchased in Soddo and the work organized before we arrived.  Mattresses were another story.  First of all, we realized when evaluating the rooms upon arrival that we would need to replace not only the mattresses, but the pillows too.  What was left of the pillows would fall apart in your hand.  Not only that, but it was apparent that the mosquito nets for all of the children were either gone or ineffective from disintegration and age.  That was a big deal since the rainy season (with lots of mosquitos) was about to begin!  So the list was expanded to include 22 mattresses, 22 pillows and mosquito nets for all.  I – being the new kid on the block – was given the assignment of purchasing these items and getting them back to the orphanage.  I accepted the job and so began a very interesting day.

First, there are no mattresses in Soddo, so it required a trip to Awassa, a larger town about three hours away by car.  After a morning of discussion and coordinating, off I went in one of the 4×4 vehicles with our driver; Alazar, the dean of all things in Ethiopia; and Ayishu, the CCC accountant, and a handful of cash to make the purchases.  The ride to Awassa was fairly uneventful – just the usual dodging of all manner of person, animal and wooden carts along the road.   When we got close, we stopped at a couple of shops to see if we could find mattresses but struck out each time.  Finally, we got to Awassa and decided to go to find the mosquito nets first.  It is always good to have a success and it was considered to be a lot easier job than finding mattresses.  To our great delight, the first shop we went to had the nets and we quickly purchased 50, stuffed them in sacks, piled them in the car and went off to the next stop.

For reasons that I do not fully understand, the three Ethiopians with me were very confident about finding mattresses and happy with the nets so decided we needed to eat lunch next.  Since the Orthodox Christian Lent had begun that week, they were all “fasting” which meant a lunch with no meat, no dairy and no eggs.  No problem.  We found a local spot and had a very typical Ethiopian Lenten lunch consisting of injera bread and lots of things that I could not identify but which were good to eat.  Even the bathroom there was reasonably acceptable – a key factor!

Duly fortified, we continue our quest.  Our next stop proved to be a good one.  The little shop had a small warehouse of sorts in the back and they took us back to see what we could find.  To our great delight, we saw a large pile of the single foam mattresses we had been looking for.  Success!  Much discussion ensued about whether there really were enough since they were not all exactly the same.  I somehow convinced everyone that yes indeed there were enough and that the ones that didn’t look exactly like the others were really just fine.   So, we selected the 22 mattresses and moved on to pillows.   Not surprisingly, the shop owner was liking us a lot so he decided to give us a little break on the pillows and we quickly agreed to buy 22 of those too.

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The process of paying began and the discussion of how we were going to get these purchases back to Soddo began in earnest.  Interestingly, the shopkeeper happened also to be a taxi driver so he took one of our party off in the taxi to see if they could find a truck somewhere to take the mattresses back.  No mattress delivery in Ethiopia but lots of willingness to help us solve the problem!  After a while the taxi returned having had no luck finding a truck.  Alazar then had the brilliant idea of going to the bus depot to see if we could buy some space on top of a bus going to Soddo.  Off we went to the bus depot – a crazy, chaotic place with all manner of little buses and lots of people milling around.  I stayed in the car while the others went out to find a bus and negotiate a rate.  Had they seen me, the rate would have gone up considerably so I stayed behind and kept a very low profile.   After a while, they came back triumphantly saying they had done the deal and we had a bus willing to take the mattresses back right then for a very modest fee.  Hooray!!

So now we go back to the mattresses shop to figure out how to get the mattresses to the bus depot.  Once again the shopkeeper had a plan.  He had a small VW bus type vehicle onto and into which they piled, tied and stuffed all 22 mattresses.  Pretty cool.  Once ready, off they went to the bus depot while we got all of the pillows in the car and tied the nets to the roof. Not much room left in the car for people but we figured it out!  Then we also left for the bus depot, saying hearty goodbyes to our new friends from the mattress shop.  We didn’t get to the depot however before we saw our mattresses being loaded on top of a bus along the side of the road.  Apparently, the bus had already left by the time the mattresses arrived so they had to drive along the route to find the bus, stop it, unload the mattresses from the VW and pile them on top of the bus.

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It was about then that I got a text from Terri back in Soddo saying that it was raining like crazy.  Perfect!  The dry season was ending just as we loaded 22 new mattresses on the top of a bus to drive into the monsoon rains for two and one half hours.  Seemed as if we would need a tarp.  That took some doing, but a tarp was located and tied down securely over the mattresses on top of the bus, all while the people inside the bus waited – and much more patiently than I would have expected!  Finally, everything was secured and the bus was ready to roll.  Then we were off!  It was getting late and we still had a long drive back in the rain, but we were all pretty pleased with ourselves.  We had completed our assignment and had some fun too so it was high fives all around as we started our journey back to Soddo.

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Just another day in Ethiopia!


Abeba, Zinash, and Asnakech in their refurbished bedroom with new paint, mattresses, pillows, and nets

Academic Success!

At a recent Family Program, some of the CCC children were recognized for their academic achievements in their first semester of school this year.  Our kids work hard in their various classes and seven students have been recognized as being top students in their specific grades:

In KG-3 (the third level of kindergarten, the grade right before Grade 1), Aragesh is ranked FIRST in her class. She attends the Hopeful Generation School, and her class size is around 55 students.

Aragesh and Katie

In Grade 1, at Oxnard Youth Academy, Merdekios is ranked FIRST in his class! His sister, Banchiwosen is ranked THIRD, and Mekdes is FOURTH. Their class size is 44 students total.

Merdekios and Chu Chu

Banchiwosen and Belenesh

Mekdes and Etete









Also at Oxnard, Omodar is ranked FIRST, and her good friend, Waynashet, is ranked THIRD in Grade 3. Their class size is also 44 students.

Omodar and Sister Helen

One of the newest additions to CCC, Grima, is ranked THIRD out of 90 students total, in his Grade 9 class at Bogale Walelu High School.

Grima and Katie

In front of the whole CCC community, each of these distinguished scholars received pants or shoes (or both!) as a reward for their diligence and success. Hopefully, recognizing good academic habits in this way will result in a culture of true learning and scholastic excellence.  A big thanks to sponsors who provide the funding and encouragement that makes it possible for learning to happen!

Update provided by Katie, our volunteer teacher, who has been at CCC since last summer.  God Bless Katie!

At the market with Noah

Following is a a third post from Noah who is spending a month is Soddo volunteering at CCCE .  Noah spent 2010 volunteering at CCCE working as a Children’s Home Manager.

One night Katie and I were debating staying at the Children’s Home or getting out and doing something else for the evening. We decided to eat out and just see what happened. We drove the motorbike up above town on the way up Damota Mountain to see the sun set over the Rift Valley, but weren’t able to see it from our vantage point. I turned off into a little neighborhood and we immediately had a crowd of children running after us. I was weaving through neighborhoods of mud and stick houses causing people to come out of their homes and stare. We found a great place to watch the sun say its final farewell right next to a home where a woman was standing bewildered at her new guests. We said hello and commented on the beautiful sunset in Amharic and a huge smile came across her face and we had a friend to share the end of the day with.

After departing from our sunset friend, we decided to wander around the market in the final minutes of daylight. The market is one of my favorite places in Soddo, 2nd in place behind the imitation YMCA. Generally it is a bustling bazaar with women squatting on the ground selling their vegetables; oxen, goats and donkeys wandering the aisles looking for something to nibble on; stick and tin shelters full of clothes, tools and a myriad of handy items. But this evening the market is winding down. Most of the people who sell from the ground have gone home and the majority of the stalls are closed up. The Muslim call to prayer floats over the market and Katie and I comment how different it sounds than the Orthodox chanting. We are rarely followed or bothered by children these days. I don’t know if people are just used to us, or if we carry ourselves and communicate in a way that tells others we are not tourists, but the market used to be a stressful event to undertake only on the bravest of days. It is now a place of pseudo fellowship where I can really experience this community with pleasure.

As Katie and I wander through the remaining shop keepers closing up, we greet and say the pleasantries with those we meet. Just as we are leaving a child comes up to us and opens his hands to reveal a small, furry creature. I can’t figure out what it is. It looks like a kitten, but its head is shaped differently and its body is much smaller and longer. It is grey and white striped. I ask him, “Min dih no?” What is it? He replies in English it is a lion. “Ambasa whem dimet?” Lion or cat? I ask him thinking he confused the two feline animals. “Not dimet! Lion!” he says emphatically. I can’t resist and ask to hold it and look at it in the face. It is a tiny little fellow and I am still dumbfounded at what it is. This cannot be a lion. There are no lions in this area of Ethiopia and it is TINY. By this time there is a crowd of probably 30 children surrounding us. So much for thinking we blend in. A 15ish boy breaks through the crowd and asks us in perfect English what the problem is. I tell him everything is okay and we are looking at this little furball trying to figure out what it is. He tells us it is a small lion that lives in the rural area outside of town. It must be an ocelot or something (that sounds good – I really have no idea what an ocelot is), but in any case it’s not every day you find a lion in the market. These are the things that make me laugh when I lay in bed at night and reflect over a most unusual and yet typical day.