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Summer Activities

Following is a post written by Megan Messano.  Megan is a school teacher in the US and is spending her summer volunteering at CCC in Soddo, Ethiopia.  She is running a summer camp/school program.  This post was written after Megan’s first full day at CCC.


I slept  in until 7:00 this morning, long after the sun rose and the choir of birds and children started to sing.  I’d been up late finishing lesson plans for my first English class, which was made more complicated when the power went out and I had to feel my way in utter darkness out of the kitchen, through the living room, and into my bedroom where I’d fortunately had the foresight to hang my flashlight in an obvious place.  With it I located the candles and matches and carried on.

I got up and had breakfast in the cafeteria, then played with the kids until it was time for class.  The first night here was very overwhelming, but I’m already learning many of their names and figuring out how to communicate in English, Amharic, and smiles.

tumblr_inline_mp0kd72JuV1qz4rgpI’ve learned to answer to “Ferenge,” which means “foreigner.”  It’s basically my new name.


I was prepared for class, but a little nervous that the lesson would fall flat, or the kids would resent being there.  I needn’t have worried.  We finished my lesson plan in under an hour and when I told them we were done, they protested.

“No! We want to learn!”

“Ask us questions!”

“About the story!”

Shocked and pleased, I launched into a more in-depth discussion of the first three pages of Tikki Tikki Tembo.  There’s only so much you can talk about, but they ate up every word.  From there I had them all tell me about their favorite things: colors, foods, sports, and when they still didn’t want to leave after that was done, I had them put up labels I’d made for classroom objects (table, desk, chair, bookshelf).  We finally stopped around 10:30 when a nurse came in asking me to unlock my room because she’d left a book there.

I wandered out to the soccer field and watched the kids kick a ball around, and then was called to join a jump rope game.  They’d abandoned the frayed hemp they’d been using and the rope of choice today seemed to be some type of wire.  I’m getting good at jumping in and out, which is crucial to the way they play.


When I got tired I sat down on the bottom of a slide, and several kids joined me.

“Maygahn,” one said, “You like to sing?”

“Yes, I love to sing,” I answered.

Instantly, the sing-along began.  They taught me three Amharic worship songs, and helped me sound out the words to write them down.  They were SO patient with me, and happy to help me not just sing the words, but understand what they meant.  These kids are incredible, they really are.

After a lunch of rice and bread I was quite desperate for a vegetable, so I went back to my room and made green beans.  Afterward I crashed.  I’d had no idea how tired I was until I realized I’d been dreaming but didn’t remember closing my eyes.  I set my alarm for 2:00, an hour before my next class, and lay back down.

ChuChu, the dean of students here, came to my door moments after the alarm woke me up.

“There is a lot of people in town. You have heard about the football match?” I’d heard murmurs about football (soccer) since I arrived, and told him so.  He explained that they have a National League and a Premier League, and a team from Wolaita (the region/people group we are in) had just made it into the Premier League.  Apparently, they were the first to do so. “Come, they are waiting for the team to pass by.  See how the people are acting.”

ChuChu and I walked up to the main road.  There were tens of thousands of people in the streets, many in red, yellow, and black striped Wolaita cultural clothing.  All were expectantly milling about, watching, waiting.  ChuChu explained that there was no telling when the team would pass by, because they were going through many small towns where they would be obliged to stop for coffee.  Some people had been standing there since early this morning.


We waited for maybe two hours, talking and meeting people.  Finally some motorcycles started blowing through, decked with Wolaita colors and leafy branches.  At first I thought this was the team, but people only seemed mildly interested.  Later more motorcycles came until they filled the street and took laps around the traffic circle.  People started to get amped up.  After this came a sea of people on foot, running and cheering, and finally a bus crawled its way through the crowd.  Soccer players in light blue shirts held trophies out the windows.  People sang and danced and chanted.  It was a very emotional display.  “Wolaita is a small zone, one of many with their own people and language and culture.” ChuChu explained.  “The prime minister is from here, and now this has happened.  It doesn’t give sense for you, but it gives sense for us.”

“I think I can appreciate it,” I replied.  “It’s pride.  This is clearly about more than football.”

“Yes,” he smiled.  “Pride.  That song they are singing, it says ‘Now is the time for Wolaita.’”


We came back exhausted, having inherently cancelled the afternoon class because all of the children were in the street somewhere.  I sat down and rested for a minute, thinking I could just stay in for the rest of the night, but something nudged me out the door.  I played with the little ones for a bit, and then one of the young girls asked me, “You go to church?” I said yes and she took my hand. “Come. Church now. Sing and pray.”

She led me into the youngest girls’ room, where kids were already gathering. They were all between the ages of four and maybe twelve, and in the end there were twenty-six of them there, fully half of the children who live here.  They sat on the beds that lined the walls and waited for Banchiwosen to lead them.  This was clearly a regular thing.

They all began to sing.  The first three songs were the ones I’d learned this morning, so I sang with them.  I cannot fully express what I felt.  They were worshipping.  REALLY worshipping. Entirely on their own.  It was beautiful.  They followed Banchi and moved into some English songs (This Little Light of Mine, Joy to the World) that they didn’t know many of the words to, but they fully enjoyed trying.  After this I had to drop out because the longer Amharic and Wolaitinya songs began.  I just sat and listened and melted.  I was in the Throne Room.  More than once I wished for my camera, but at the same time it felt too sacred.

When they stopped, Nanni stood up and sang a song by herself. Apparently it was solo time, because it continued down the line until it came to me.

“Maygahn! Sing! In English!”  I was startled and let little Meskerem go ahead of me, but then I stood and sang a verse of “Forever Reign.”  Solo time continued all around the room and I listened intently while Meskerem held my hand and leaned her head on my shoulder. So many thoughts chased each other through my head.  If it were possible, I would love so much to take any one of these children home and raise them as my own.  But what of the others when certain “chosen ones” are whisked off to America?  And how could I replace this?  There is so much that these kids are lacking, but they also have something very special here that I’ve never seen at home.

When the last soloist sat down, all of the kids started talking again and I made out my name amid the chatter.  “Maygahn!” “Ferenge pray.  Then finish.”

“Abba Father, thank you for this special place and the chance to worship You tonight, and the way You’ve blessed me through these children-” a perfectly unison “AMEN” interrupted my train of thought, but every head remained bowed. “We ask you to help us with the things we need, and we thank you for the food we have, the beds we sleep in, and the love we have for each other.”


“Thank you for Jesus Christ, who came to save us from our sins so we could know You and love You.”






As we have previously reported, we have been working with our partners, Water is Life International and Myungsung International PCL (MCW), to complete Phase I of a deep water well project on the grounds of the CCC home in Soddo, Ethiopia.  As with most projects of this magnitude, there were a few snags along the way, but we are thrilled to report that Phase I is now complete.  The well was drilled to 147 meters and our partners have now completed the well casing, packing, cleaning, well head construction and pump test.  We should soon be receiving the final report from the hydogeologist which will include recommendations concerning pipe design and the type and size of the pump we will need to meet the water needs of the home.

We are still waiting for the installation of 3 phase power by the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, which will allow us to proceed to Phase II of the project.  We are currently on a government waiting list to receive a transformer.  However, given our location on the list and our priority level (certain government projects, businesses and industries are getting higher priority), we are hopeful that we will have what we need to proceed to Phase II of the project within two months.

Completion of Phase I is a significant milestone and the staff and children at CCC are extremely excited about the prospect of finally having a reliable source of clean water.  After completion of the pump test, they organized a luncheon and gathered to say “thank you” to the MCW drilling crew and present them with gifts from the Wolaita region.


The moment the drilling team hit sweet, wonderful water!

The Aerie Africa Board expresses their gratitude to MCW and Water is Life International for their generosity and their diligence in completing this project.  We can barely express how excited and emotional we were when we saw pictures of water shooting into the air at the drilling site.  We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.


Drilling Team – Myungsung International and CCC staff


We would also like to thank Nathan and Richelle Haines, who worked tirelessly to manage and facilitate this part of the process to a successful conclusion.  Their commitment to the children of CCC and to Aerie Africa is simply incredible.

And of course we thank all of our donors, whose generous contributions have brought us one step closer to turning the dream of providing plentiful, clean water to the children and staff at the CCC home, into reality.

We pay special tribute to Jack Main, Richelle’s grandfather.  His amazing contribution early last year kick-started the fund raising process for the well and made us all believe that the impossible was possible.

Blessings to all,

The Aerie Africa Board

March 2013 Mission Trip

A group of seven volunteers visited the CCC Children’s Home in Soddo, Ethiopia from March 9 through March 15.  The volunteers were Jane, Kevin, and Brad Hollingsworth, Suzanne Hanlon, Karen Marienau, Ann McIntosh, and Terri Sebree.

Kevin and kids 2

The trip was a great success. The children are spectacular. Currently, two students are attending vocational school in Addis training to become nurses; five students (four young men and one young woman) are in university in various schools throughout Ethiopia; seven young adults are in the Aerie transition program attending high school in Soddo, and 54 children live at the CCC home. We were blessed to visit with the two girls attending nursing school and two of the young men in university.  All four are doing great, handling independence remarkably well, and making excellent grades.

The children in the CCC Children’s Home are great.  They are healthy and happy.  When they are home from school in the afternoon, the compound is filled with joyous laughter, singing, and sounds of football (soccer).

Mayor eyayu

The kids are doing well in school. Of the 35 students in grade one through seven, 19 are ranked in the top 10 of their class in school.  Our second and third graders are leading the pack holding the top five positions in each class! CCC focuses on education.  All children in kindergarten through seventh grade attend private schools.  The children have tutors and the older children help with younger children with their homework and studying.

We completed several projects while we were in Soddo.  We refurbished three girls’ bedrooms.  We painted their rooms (walls and ceilings) and purchased new mattresses, pillows, and mosquito nets for all the girls.  We also painted the boys’ rooms and purchased new mosquito nets.  We will buy the boys new mattresses and pillows on the next trip in November.  The girls were very proud of their new rooms.  The rooms were painted a bright pink (picked out by the girls). They loved the new mattresses and pillows (which they badly needed).

We also installed a six foot fence along one side of the football field.  This fence protects kids and balls from rolling down a steep hill.  We facilitated temporary repairs to the roof of the girls’ dormitory.  We will need to replace the roof after the rainy season.  We will be launching a capital campaign this summer to raise money for that project.

Drs.  Ann and Karen performed physical examinations on all the children.  This was a Herculean effort – 61 physicals in four days!  They found the children to be very healthy and growing at a typical rate.

Drs Karen and Ann



Feeding Program and Medical Clinic

During our recent trip to Soddo to visit the CCC Children’s Home, we spent one day at Wolaitta Village conducting a feeding program and medical clinic.  We provided 137 families each with 10 kilos of wheat and provided medical care to 100 people.

Ten churches in the Soddo area chose the most needy of their families to come to the feeding program.  Some families walk over three hours to get to the Wolaitta Village.

Following are pictures from the day.

Families waiting to enter feeding program to pick up their wheat

Families waiting to enter feeding program to pick up their wheat

Mom waiting with two of her children

Mom waiting with two of her children

Kids watching us.

Kids watching action in the field pharmacy

Dr. Ann examining a baby with spina bifida.  We gave the family funds to take their child to a special hospital in Addis Ababa.

Dr. Ann examining a baby with spina bifida. We gave the family funds for treatment in Addis.

Misgina with 105 year old man in basically great health

Misgina, a CCC employee, with a 105 year old man in basically good health

Drs.  Ann and Karen busy working

Drs. Ann and Karen busy working

Healthy twins with colds.  The father was malnourished - we provided vitamins and instructions for healthy eating

Healthy twins with colds. The father was malnourished.

Field Pharmacy

Field Pharmacy

Dr. Ephraim in field pharmacy

Dr. Ephraim in field pharmacy

Kevin handing out candy

Kevin handing out candy
















Water Well Progress

Update from Stacey McLaughlin – Aerie Africa Board Member

Happy New Year!  I hope your 2013 is off to a great start.  I am writing to provide the latest update on the Aerie Africa water well project.

Our work over the last two months has been focused on the detailed project planning and identification of the best partner to complete Phase 1 (drilling and casing).  At this time, we are pleased to report that plans are finalized and we are tentatively  scheduled to begin drilling in March.  The teams are motivated and prepared to complete this project as soon as possible.  Our only gating item now is access to steel for the well casing (which is on back-order in Ethiopia due to a recent surge in government demand) but we are hopeful that it will be available by our target start date in March.

We are very fortunate that Nathan Haines,  Aerie Africa Home Manager, continues to serve as our project leader and will work closely with Water is Life International who will play a project management role throughout the project.  Together, we have decided to partner with Myungsung International PCL (MCW) for the drilling and casing.  MCW is a Korean company affiliated with Korean Hospital drillers in Ethiopia.

Here is an overview of the progress to date:

•  Completed risk/benefit analysis and confirmed the optimal location for drilling on our property – biggest decision yet, with serious implications for project due to depths required to reach water on our property.

•  Negotiated agreement with the local community (kebele) for access to drill on a certain site

•  Negotiated agreement with city-level water dept. for permission to drill

•  Concluded that the initially proposed drilling equipment was too risky for our job and met with Water is Life staff, Salem Drilling staff and a consulting hydrogeologist to discuss other drilling options that would still work within our budget.  Decided not to move forward with Salem Drilling because of the risk of not being able to complete the job if they have to drill beyond 150m.

•  Met, via Water is Life staff, a drilling company associated with the Korean Hospital in Addis Ababa.  They have an experienced team with deep wells and are highly motivated to complete this project as soon as possible.  Our contact with MCW has drilled over 30 wells in Ethiopia in the last 3 years, and the Ethiopian driller working with him has been working with drilling companies for about 15 years.

•  Although the MCW drilling equipment is more costly and they are a for profit organization, they decided to take on our project and presented us with a proposed cost bid that is favorable to our project and within our existing budget.  Agreements between Aerie Africa and Water is Life and MCW were executed last week.

•  The roads at the entrance to our property were cleared last week.  Space for the drilling equipment has been made and a temporary guard has been hired to watch the property and equipment.

•  The only open item is the installation of the 3-phase power needed to run the pump for the well.  We are unfortunately at the mercy of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corp and have been told that we are next in line.  This will not interfere with drilling or casing but is required for phase 2 (implementation) of the project.

Overall, we are pleased with the progress, especially given many of the constraints in Ethiopia right now.   If all continues to go well, the Aerie Africa well will be operational by late Spring.

Soles for Souls

The children all received new shoes this month!  We are very grateful to the Buckner International’s Shoes for Orphan Souls program  This wonderful group donated 80 pairs of new, amazing shoes for our children.   The children say a big thank you to Buckner International!


Help us continue to make a difference!

2012 has been a great year for the children at the CCC Children’s Home in Soddo, Ethiopia.

This year, three of our students qualified for university.  We now have five students in universities throughout Ethiopia – Awassa, Dire Dawa, Nekemte, Bahir Dar, and Mekelle. We also have two students in nursing school in Addis.

Additionally, four students took their 10th grade examination and all received excellent scores and were admitted to preparatory school.

Three of our little ones were excited to start kindergarten in September.

We are currently supporting 68 children:  54 children (32 girls and 22 boys) living at the children’s home, seven in the Aerie transition program (1 girl and 6 boys) and seven (3 girls and 4 boys) in university/nursing school.

Our staff in Ethiopia does a great job of providing a loving environment for the children.  We currently have 17 full-time and three part-time staff members including a dean of students, housemothers, head nurse, nanny nurses, cooks, and guards.

Through your help, we continue to make a real difference in the lives of many children in Soddo.

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

Our goal is to raise $30,000 for Aerie Africa in the next month.  This will complete the funding requirements for 2012 and provide a small crisis fund.  We need your help!

Please help make a difference in the lives of very special children.  Please donate through PayPal @ or by mailing a check to Aerie Africa, 2234 South Abbey Loop, New Braunfels, TX 78130 or through our web site @