Rumour Mill recently appointed Hope365 as its charity of the year. Undertaking amazing work in Ethiopia, team member Laura Scott tells us all about her trip with the charity to Africa to see first-hand the work being done:

Shashemene was my destination, which is a five-hour drive from the capital of Ethiopia, Addis. We set off on Saturday ahead of Pancake Day, but unfortunately our arrival wasn’t plain sailing. Our arrival was during a time of political unrest, which had a significant impact on the amount of time we had left to carry out everything we set out to achieve. We were advised to stay indoors for approximately half of our trip, but thankfully with the help of staff from the centre, as well as local authorities we managed to make it to the Tesfa Manoriya Bota centre almost every day of the trip.

The best welcome

We arrived at the centre for the first time on the Tuesday and were greeted with smiling faces and huge welcoming hugs from each of the boys. There were 16 happy little boys staying at the centre during the time we visited; this includes five boys who live there permanently.

The boys were anxious to get to know us, even though we couldn’t speak the same language. However, after only five minutes, the boys had gone to get a football to ask us to play (boys will be boys no matter where they are in the world!) We introduced the boys to Pancake Tuesday with some chocolate covered crepes – which they found quite strange. Unsurprisingly they decided that licking off the chocolate was more enjoyable than eating them – again, boys will be boys!

Down to business

As we are working on the PR and social media for Hope365, I was visiting with a focus on understanding the deeper parts of the organisation and getting to know the staff who work in Shashemene with the boys. I wanted to find out the stories of the children that are brought into the centre and learn how the Hope365 staff can help these children and ensure that their lives are improved after they’ve been brought in off the streets to Tesfa Manoriya Bota.

The charity is also working on a website revamp, so we’ll be working with them to update their web content – for this I needed to fully understand the aims, vision, and purpose of Hope365.

I spent a lot of my time meeting with the various staff members. This will help us to focus on profiling the skilled and loving staff that the centre has hired with the money funded by Hope365. Something that is extremely important to the charity is that all staff members at Tesfa Manoriya Bota are locals. While Hope365 works hard to fund projects from the office in Northern Ireland, they place strong importance upon providing the boys with good role models from their own culture. This works well as it increases jobs and the economy in Shashemene, but it also helps the boys to grow as well-balanced individuals who are proud of their culture and country, and therefore will have a heart and desire to help other vulnerable people in their own community.

New projects

Hope365 focus on reunification of street kids where possible. When we were there we got to visit the home of one of the boys who had been reunited with his grandmother after being found on the street. It was hard to see where these children grow up, but also great to be able to visualise the help that Hope365 will bring to these families as they move towards offering sponsorship for reunified children. Through this new program we hope to help Hope365 promote how people can sponsor reunified kids, giving them an opportunity to go to school, supply them with a mattress and pillow to sleep on, as well as supplying their family with goats and seeds to give them some way of making money.

Hope365 is about long-term, lasting fulfilment. Each of their missions, aims and goals are created with an end purpose that leaps into the far future. Rather than just focusing on short-term goals, the Hope365 board ensures that every decision has a lasting impact. It was great to see these missions coming to life in Shashemene.

One year anniversary

Our final day in Shashemene happened to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Tesfa Manoriya Bota opening its doors to invite street boys in.

The local staff celebrated the one-year achievements by decorating a room with balloons, scattering grass and leaves on the floor and offering us a selection of local party food. We were offered popcorn, bananas, candy, coffee and potatoes (we had a sneaking suspicion that those were less local, and more of a treat for us Irish folk).

On the same day as the centre opening, Debyiso and Babi joined the home. We celebrated them as they had spent a full year in safe living conditions, with food to eat daily, and had both started education at a local school. Both are progressing well, with Debyiso speaking short sentences to us in English and trying to learn more through listening to us speak. It was astonishing to hear the staff describe the change in these two boys in the year that they had lived there.

What’s next?

Hope365 have constant fundraising campaigns throughout the year, which focus on long term missions, current  projects, or achieving funds for new projects. The new sponsorship opportunity which allows people to support boys who have been reunified with their parents will be launched very soon.

A current fundraising focus is to open another home in Shashemene to house those boys who cannot be reunited with their families, and they are also looking into purchasing a car to ensure that when children are able to be reunified with family members, Hope356 have the methods to take them back to their own regions.

The new website will be going live in the coming week and at Rumour Mill we’re looking forward to populating the blog section of the website with stories about the staff and children that are helped by Hope365.

If you’d like to hear more about Hope365 check out its website, and keep your eyes peeled for their revamp and new sponsorship opportunities which will be live soon.

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