While all of these activities, events, and locales were amazing, what made this summer truly and extraordinarily special were THE PEOPLE. This is where the unimaginable became the imaginable. The chance of our two summer guests Johan VandenBossche (Co-Founder of Let Us Change) from Leuven, Belgium, and Belayneh Woldemariam (Empower Ethiopia’s in-country advisor) from Hawassa, Ethiopia both being able to make a trip to the United States for the very first time, at the very same time was extremely unlikely, YET IT HAPPENED.
And it happened in a fabulous whirlwind of people coming together to create, execute, and participate in events, as well as offer help, support, and friendship. People opened up their hearts and homes to us, and we are grateful.
This summer exemplified “the power of the C’s” – CONNECTION, COLLABORATION, COMMUNITY, CARING, and COMPASSION. When all of these combine it can be a perfect catalyst for creating positive change. I was able to be “my best self” this summer, because of the energy that surrounded me.
As our guests returned home to Belgium and Ethiopia and all the rest of us tried to return to some form of routine and normalcy, I am working through the anticipated let-down period. My mind is already gearing up for the next unimaginable thing we can make imagineable. With the continued connections we build together, I am feeling hopeful about the future impact we can have for community projects and initiatives near and far.
It is in that spirit that we are launching a “Partners in Change” campaign that will focus on partnering with local businesses to joint fundraise. Stay tuned for further details, and thank you to all who helped make this summer of dreams a reality!
A note from Johan Vandenbossche, Co-Founder of Let Us Change
And we did… Every day there was an event. For me, it was also the first time in the states, and it was a wonderful experience. In the last ten years, I lived in two different worlds: Belgium and Ethiopia. Now, being in another completely different place, was very strange to me. The people in the U.S. are so open, so friendly and helpful…and they continue to be helpful, again and again…Thank you.
After the States, I went to Ethiopia after spending a few days in Belgium. It was the 27th time for me in Ethiopia, and again, everything was different. Due to political unrest, the federal government announced a state of emergency in Hawassa. This means soldiers on every corner of the street, a lot of armed police, night curfew, and a very quiet town. But it had an upside as well, I was able to better focus on my work.
Together with another Belgian non-profit, we installed water filters on our water wells and in our bakery. Now we constantly have clean drinking water, and we no longer have to hope that there will be water in the pipe system. We also opened our third bakery shop, and more will come in the next few months. More shops, means:
- more healthy bread for the people of Hawassa
- more income for Let Us Change and the 100 children in the three houses
- more people we can take away from the street, and give a proper job and salary.
Overall, we had a great summer, and that is also because of you. Please keep talking about Empower Ethiopia, Let Us Change and what we all try to do to help the children who need our help the most.
Lots of love, I hope to see you all again next year.