Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guest Blogger: Tamara B with FOVC

A friend of mine is posting today about some exciting work that she and her husband have become a part of in Ethiopia. This all started with them stepping up to adopt a little boy from Ethiopia. Then, as God did with Jake and I in Ghana, He also led this couple into doing something more for their son's birth-country. In Tamara's words:

Thank you Janel for letting me guest blog today. For those who don't know me, I'm Tamara B. I met Janel through a common friend when we started the adoption process. Since that time I've kept up with the amazing work Jake and Janel are doing in Ghana. But more than that, I get encouragement and am challenged as a parent and a follower of Christ when I read her blog. Thanks Janel. I'm usually blogging one of two places. At Tamara B, I usually blog about normal life stuff - kid fun and dramas included. In 2009 while going through the process of an Ethiopian adoption, I began blogging at Journey 4 Hope. We adopted Judah and brought him home in May of 2010. What I didn't know at the time, was that our journey to Ethiopia would take us back again, and again. I'm guest blogging here today to share with you a little about the famine in the horn of Africa, how I'm directly involved with it and how you can help too.

My husband and I are average people who happened to open our eyes to the world we've encountered. You can read how we decided to partner with Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children on my blog here. If you don't want to click on the link, I'll just share real quick that FOVC is working in Southern Ethiopia - the region of our son's birth and first 24 months of life. FOVC focuses on several things relating to the orphans and widows in 3 small villages in Southern Ethiopia. It's a grassroots org started and run by a local Ethiopian. It has a holistic approach to how they do things, meaning they don't just give handouts or enable people. FOVC exists to help them help themselves. So, things like education, medical, and clean water for the orphans; training and micro-loans for sewing school, raising livestock, starting a business, etc. for the widows. I'm directly involved in developing the crops for widows program. Because they're a sustenance based society (meaning they live on what they can grow), it's important for widowed women to learn and know how to grow food. So 4 months ago, in June 2011, we travelled with FOVC to provide training. Ryan, my husband, treated livestock (he's a veterinarian) and trained a local guy while I focused on crops. It was at this time that we encountered more of the world around us and committed to continue to help.

Tamara pictured with the farmers.............................

A few short months later, after warning signs were ignored by deciding agency, a full on famine was, and is, ravaging the horn of Africa. (I blogged a lot about the details in July and August if you want to read those posts). That effects Southern Ethiopia. The place where not only my son was born, but the place where his Ethiopian momma and brothers still live. The place where I hugged and played with precious little children earlier this summer. The place that was no longer just a dot on a map but a real place with real people who were being affected. Did you know that by time the word "famine" is used, it literally means that thousands of people are dying a day? Let me say that again in case you're flying through this or got distracted, did you know that by time the word "famine" is used, it literally means that thousands of people are dying a day? This isn't a threat of malnourishment. This is people literally dying on the side of the road as they walk for weeks on end in search of food. Because of the direct impact on Southern Ethiopia, FOVC is in a full blown fund-raising, trip planning, relief giving, hope offerring process. Did that make sense? What I meant to get across is that FOVC is moving like wildfire having assessed the situation and is moving forward with a plan of action.

While we're sitting in our living rooms enjoying a warm cup of coffee, there are sponsored children in Southern Ethiopia thanking God for the one meal they received today but also begging Him to provide food for their neighbors who've not eaten for 4 or more days. While we climb out of our beds with an achy back, children in Ethiopia have never slept in a bed. And while we decide which place we'll go out to eat this week, children in Ethiopia may receive nourishment and might not. You see, children sponsored by Americans receive an education, food and medical care. But there are many children and families who have nothing, not even hope. I'm not trying to give you a sob story. Just trying to show you a few facts quickly. If you want the technical details click on the links above to my July and August posts.

Back to FOVC, they're doing several things. And because I whole-heartedly support them, I'm along for the ride. In October I will be with 3 other people headed to Ethiopia for famine relief. A medical doctor and the President will focus on bringing medical and food for the expected 4 months of famine. I, along with another guy, will be focusing on the long term hope of the project. We'll be training people on things they can do to grow their food even during a drought. If they can grow food during the dry/drought times, they will have food to eat. I'll be in-country for about 7 days. A short, but very focused, trip. After all, I stood and hugged Judah's mom in a tiny village who'd never before seen white people in June.

I told her that I loved her and prayed for her often. I can't imagine the impact this famine will have on her family and the many others in southern Ethiopia. This is one reason I'm going back. Another is that I believe the Bible where it says that it's my responsibility to help care of the orphans and the widows in their distress (found in the Bible in the book of James). Now, whether you believe the bible or not, you can still care for the orphans and widows and those in need.

Tamara pictured with some of the FOVC girls..................

Like Janel and Jake, Ryan and I have found our niche to be involved in. That looks a little different but the thing that is the same is that we're using our gifts, talents and passions to serve the God who loves us. The God who loved us "even when we were like that" as Janel said in a recent post. So, I'm here to share with you about the work that we're involved in with FOVC. But I'm also here to encourage you to find that niche. Is it sewing pillow case dresses for Ghana? Is it travelling with Janel and Jake to do construction? Is it mentoring a student who's a little rough around the edges? Is it taking a meal to your neighbor who's having a hectic week? Friends, we are so fortunate. We have so much. We don't go to bed hungry. We have multiple cars we drive. We are blessed, even when life is tough! I thank God for people like Jake and Janel who aren't perfect but who are using what God has given them to bless others.

I have no desire to take you away from what Jake and Janel are doing in Africa. However, if you would like to read more about what I'm involved with in Ethiopia, feel free to check out my blog Thanks again to Janel for allowing me to post today!!! If you have questions, please feel free to email me or leave a comment and I can contact you. Thanks for reading!

-Tamara B.-


Janel said...

From the day you emailed me about sewing the journey bags for Justice’s village, I knew God had a hold of your heart and that your time in Ethiopia would not end with just an adoption. How I love it when God opens up our eyes and urges our hearts to turn compassion into action! I know your work in Ethiopia has and will turn into a ripple effect as more and more eyes and ears get a hold of FOVC and your involvement. Long-term sustainability, a hand up not a hand out, and creating self-sufficiency….now THAT is how you break into the poverty cycle! I am excited to see the long-term outcomes of your projects and efforts….the immediate results and stories have already blown me away! Your faith has turned into action…..and you are making a direct impact on this world we live in….a world of desperate need!!!!! Press on, sister!

Mindy said...

Janel- So glad you let Tamara guest post today. I know her!! Well, actually, I know her husband. What great things God is doing!
Tamara- I know you!!(read above :) How encouraging to hear of your story! Will be blogging about you tomorrow!! And like Janel said- keep on!

Tamara B said...

Thanks Janel and Mindy. Janel, you have been a huge encouragement to me and I'm so thankful for you!

Mindy, I know your SIL and love her dearly. She too, was a huge encouragement to us, and one of the reasons we adopted from Ethiopia!