Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category

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).


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!

Our Amazing Students

The good news continues  . . . we have just received the results of the tenth grade examination taken in June by the four tenth graders.  All scored well on the examination and qualify for preparatory school for university!  These terrific students are:

Grima – 17 years old


Serkalem – 19 years old

Nebiyu – 18 years old

Meseret – 20 years old


Congratulation to these students.  Special thanks to the Sponsoring families/churches who have given these students wonderful opportunities – the Dillion, Marienau, Catherall, and Dellagloria families and the Northminister Church.


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.


Noah Arrives Back In Soddo

Noah, one of our wonderful Aerie Africa volunteers, arrived back in Soddo last week.  He is volunteering at CCC for a month and is following up on the many improvements that Noah and Sam implemented during their year long mission at CCC in 2010.  Below is a post from him.

This is a perfect opportunity to finally put down some of the latest events since I’ve been back in Ethiopia. It’s shortly before 5 in the morning and for some reason I’m lying here awake. It is an unusually still, moonless night, the power is out, and the night guard Sodo just passed by my window shuffling his feet. I know without looking that he is wearing his black wool coat, floppy little hat, worn sneakers and carrying his massive machete. Nothing to comfort you from creepy nighttime sounds like knowing Sodo is patrolling. But first I begin with the descent into Ethiopia.

Arriving in Addis Ababa is a mixed bag of emotion. I’m back. I can’t wait to see those kids. Am I going to be inundated with work right away? What is it going to be like to be back without Sam here? I am stoked (Southern California slang…) to see Katie. I am not so stoked to eat Injera and wat. As the plane touches down, my thoughts are jolted back into reality as the plane suddenly slams on the brakes and we all go flying forward. When the massive g-forces stop and we are able to sit back in our seats I look around and chuckle. Half the plane is laughing, the rest is wide-eyed and terrified. It is obvious who is landing in Addis to stay and who is here on a layover en route to Cape Town.  While the event has nothing to do with where we are and everything to do with the European pilot, this is a pleasant greeting to Ethiopia. I reflect how the last time I was in the Addis Ababa airport at night the power went out – everywhere.  Including the runways.  As a people Ethiopians are amazing at adapting and making due with what is available and maintaining a glowing happiness. I hope I continue to learn from this attitude during my stay.

As I am going through immigration I am amazed I understand some of the Ethiopian chatter. Escripto alesh? Yelum, escripto iza terapeza lie no. Do you have a pen? No, there is one over there on that table. I strike up a conversation with a ferenji guy next to me in line. He is here to volunteer at the Korean Mission Hospital and asks if I have any advice for someone who hasn’t worked in Africa before. I smirk and tell him to never be shy with anyone because everyone will want to talk with him and he will have the best conversations and fall in love with these people. I also tell him that operations at the hospital will most likely shock him and not to think of his work in the same terms as he did in the states. As we leave the airport, Alazar is waiting for me. It is a warm reception. But my new friend’s ride is nowhere to be found. Alazar offers to drive him to the hospital and he gratefully accepts. As we drive to the hospital, we have to go on a detour through a little neighborhood of dirt and rock roads lined with block, eucalyptus branch, tarp and tin homes. Men are sitting outside shooting the breeze as mangy dogs wander around looking for scraps. The only thing open is a meat market – a small open air stand with several slabs of raw beef hanging on a rack. The road to the hospital is under construction and is closed. We have to park a distance from the hospital and walk this confused American the rest of the way to the hospital. I can’t help but wonder what is going through this guy’s mind, but it all feels strangely normal and refreshing to me.

The next morning Alazar picks me up and we head off to see Michael. Michael has been at CCC since its beginning and is now at Addis Ababa University – the top university in Ethiopia. Seeing Michael is like seeing an old trusted friend. He was the one who helped Sam and me transition to life in Ethiopia, had unending patience with us, translated for us in Ethiopian church and spent hours watching LOST with us.

Getting back in the car we start our journey to Soddo. I take a deep breath in Addis and smile at the familiar smell. Alazar laughs and asks what Ethiopia smells like. It’s a mixture of exhaust, dust, burberry, and Injera. He tells me he hasn’t ever thought about what his country smells like. The 6 hour ride to Soddo slips by as Alazar and I discuss the uprisings in the Middle East, funny differences between Ethiopian and American culture, the ways in which non-profits help and hurt development, the differences between Ethiopian Protestant and Ethiopian Orthodox churches, and how our families are doing.

On the road to Soddo

Arriving in Soddo is a homecoming. The music is blaring from the suks on the roadside. Donkeys carry bright yellow plastic jerrycans of water wander down the road as children with sticks swat them to keep the docile creatures in line. Goats and sheep trot aimlessly (Goats– tails go up. Sheep – tails go down).

Arriving at the children’s home I am greeted with cheers as the children bombard the vehicle with arms raised. “Noha is coming. Noha is here! Sammi is coming? Allie America?” (more on these phrases later). I am inundated with sloppy kisses and have a hard time standing as I become a human jungle gym. This is very good.

Noah playing with boys - human jungle gym

Noah with boys

Happy New Year!

As we begin a new year, I look back at 2010 and and feel blessed by the accomplishments of Aerie Africa and CCCE.  Aerie Africa has been graced with a wonderful cadre of volunteers working both in the United States and Ethiopia.  In the US, Robin Browning, Suzanne Hanlon, Donna Higgins, and Janice Mack worked tirelessly throughout the year.  They found many wonderful sponsors, kept the sponsors up to date, successfully completed a fund raising campaign, kept the accounts, and ensured Aerie Africa provided appropriate support to CCCE.  Donna, Suzanne and Janice participated in mission trips to Soddo and CCCE in 2010 (Janice twice!).


Janice with CCCE kids - April 2010


Donna, Chu Chu (CCCE Dean of Students), Suzanne, Ian, and Principal of Oxnard School (Many CCCE Students attend Oxnard) - November 2010

We also were blessed with four young adults from the US who committed amazing energy and enthusiasm to CCCE. Noah Frank and Sam Hartman spent a year at CCCE as Home Managers.  Noah and Sam accomplished so much in their year.  They provided much needed organizational structure, oversaw many improvements to the CCCE facility, and hired phenomenal employees for CCCE  including Chu Chu (Dean of Students), Sister Helen (Head Nurse) and Hiwot (Accountant). Katie Brister arrived in Soddo in July. She is teaching Bible and English lessons and has established a pre-school for  the children who are too young to go to school.  We saw a big improvement in the children’s English when we visited in November. Allie Sebree continued her regular extended trips to CCCE and helped with physical examinations (all children received a physical from an American doctor in either July or November), took many children to dental and clinic visits, helped with the transition of the 18 year olds to the Aerie home, and worked with the young kids on art and craft projects (which they love).

Noah with Abitie - November 2010

Sam and Mitten - April 2010

Allie and Abebech - November 2010

Katie and Suzanne - November 2010

In 2010, CCCE was recognized by the Ethiopian government as an outstanding orphanage.  The government designated CCCE as a model orphanage for the Southern region of Ethiopia.  The hard work of the CCCE staff made this important recognition possible.  Henok Desta, Executive Director of CCCE, has worked tirelessly to ensure that the CCCE children are happy, well fed, loved, and receiving a good education.

Henok with Government Certification

Many improvements were made to the CCCE facility in 2o10 – we built a guard house at the entrance to the CCCE compound, built a first aid room, built an office for Chu Chu for meetings with students and staff, built a new washing station for clothes washing, built a washing station in the dining room for hand and dish washing, repaired the stair and balcony railings, completed a soccer field, screened the bedroom windows, and painted much of the facility.

First Aid Room Shelves


Nebiyu making screens - April 2010

The CCCE children and Aerie young adults are wonderful.  Nineteen new children joined CCCE in 2010!!! With the help of the CCCE staff and US volunteers, the new children have assimilated and adjusted to life at CCCE remarkably quickly.  Three of our young adults were accepted to university in 2o10 – Michael, Asrat, and Wobeshet. This is a wonderful accomplishment for these young men.  Five young adults (18 year olds) moved from CCCE to the Aerie Transition home in July. Also, three young adults graduated from the CCCE/Aerie program in July (Abebech, Afework, and Mesele) and are adjusting well to living independently.  We saw all three when we visited in November and were impressed with their maturity and well being.

Mesele - November 2010

The CCCE vegetable garden continued to provide produce for the kitchen.  The big crop for 2010 was yams!  We also harvested many, many bananas.  We continue to raise sheep and chickens.  Both have been learning experiences for the children.  They are getting better at caring for the animals (sheep need to locked in the sheep house at night and chickens need regular water!).

Yams growing in vegetable garden

I thank the many volunteers, sponsors, and donors for your support.  Without your help, none of this would be possible.  You are making a huge difference in the lives of many children in Ethiopia. God Bless!

Terri Sebree