Can you feel fall in the air?! I love when the air becomes crisp and kids head back to school. Our own kids started back this week and we have less than one month (September 15th) until the preschool will open in Ethiopia!
First of all, we want to say thank you so much to those who have offered support through kind words, prayer, and financial contribution. You all mean the world to us and we could not take on this mission without you!! Because we value your support, we want to keep you in the loop and provide an update of what is happening with the school as well as with One Love here in the states.
Mandy and Megghan spent a whirlwind of a week in Addis Ababa in July. Many of you followed our Facebook posts so you have a general idea of the purposes of our trip and here’s more detail. We were fortunate enough to hire a very capable translator, Abe Ge, whom Kit met on his trip to Ethiopia back in April. Abe is a native to Ethiopia who speaks English with an Australian accent. Abe has an amazing personal story and we are fortunate to have his committed availability. Most of our work was and is done through translation so his guidance is invaluable. All that being said, here are the accomplishments from our trip:
- We were able to have face to face meetings with the two men who will co-direct the preschool, Wubishet Girmaw and Dawit Mellyone. Wubi, as we call him, is an accountant and Dawit is a principal. We have seen both of them in action with the kids at the original pre-school and they are wonderful. They also come with high recommendation from many people both in the US and ET so we are excited to have them.
- We agreed on the vision for the school. In Ethiopia, schools are for-profit businesses. It is our immediate goal to financially empower Wubi and Dawit by providing them with the start up costs necessary to open the school including rent and construction costs, as well as a water filtration system and classroom supplies. Our hope is that within a three year timeframe the preschool will be a self-supported, profitable business. We have a mutually agreed on plan to make this goal a reality. This first year will require the most financial support from One Love, which has committed to pay for the facility lease, renovation costs, a water filtration system and supplies for the classrooms, in addition to 50% of monthly operational expenses as well as tuition and feeding program sponsorships. The financial commitment for start-up costs is $38,000 with ongoing monthly support in the amount of $4000. By the end of three years, it is our hope and vision that One Love will scale back It’s support to provide sponsorships for tuition and the feeding program but the school will pay 100% of rent and monthly expenses. To accomplish this, we worked together on approving a budget for the school.
- We met with the President of the Weavers Association. So to backtrack a little here, the Weavers Association was started to train women who were employed as fuel wood carriers (you may have seen pictures of women with huge bundles of wood on their backs that they carry up a mountain daily) in the art of weaving so they no longer have to do the literal back breaking work of fuel wood carrying. The original preschool was started to give the children of the weavers an opportunity to go to school while their parents were working. Many of the weavers’ children will also attend the new preschool and the weavers still hold the license for the school at this time so they are an important piece to the puzzle. Wubishet and Dawit are in the process of applying for a new license but at this time the weavers’ license is needed to open the preschool.
- We were able to visit the homes of two families from the school. This was such a great reminder of why we are starting One Love. Honestly, the situations are hard to describe but probably worse than you can imagine. One of the ladies we visited with will be a cleaner at the school and her son attended the original preschool and will now move on to elementary at Brighton Academy. He is a bright light for us each time we visit Ethiopia. We will keep sharing with you about these families on our website when its up and running.
- We made an important connection for the feeding program. The last day we were in country, Danny Kebede, who ran the feeding program for the original preschool, tracked us down through a friend and we were able to meet with him. Danny is a former restaurant owner in Ethiopia and is very committed to providing a balanced meal and snack for the children at the preschool. Danny has a partner from the United States who has started an non-profit in the U.S. called United in Love. United in Love has all the equipment and supplies to run the feeding program so we are going to partner with this organization to feed our 150 students. At this time we have verbally agreed to a 50% split of the cost of food and food preparation, with Danny overseeing the feeding program at the school.
- We found a way to provide clean water to our students and their families! At the guest house where we stayed (Abe’s house) we met a man, Adam Elson. Adam is from Australia, living in Taiwan, and is staying in Addis Ababa during the process of adoption for his second daughter. He just so happens to have a company called Good For Life that sells and installs water purifiers. (God is so awesome!) We saw one of his purifiers in action at the orphanage where his daughter is living and it’s a very feasible option for the school. Our plan is to put in a large enough tank to be able to give clean water to the kids every day and also share with their families once a week. This will be a huge blessing to the community!!
So that’s the update from our trip…that all happened in five days. We were tired to say the least when we arrived back in the states!
Quickly, I will give you an update of what is going on with One Love here in the U.S. as well:
- We are a week or two away from having a live website. The website will provide easier access for you to see current updates on One Love and the preschool. We know many of you prefer the easy option of clicking a button to donate and we are working on it!!
- As soon as we get the website up and running, we will publish our Facebook and Instagram pages so look for those in the very near future.
- One Love is officially a CO Nonprofit corporation. We continue to work with a law firm and CPA on applying for 501c3 tax-exempt status and filing the necessary registrations. Your contributions will be tax-deductible, retroactive upon obtaining the letter from the IRS, recognizing One Love’s tax-exempt status.
- We are in constant communication with the preschool directors, Wubishet and Dawit, about the remodel construction, ordering of supplies, water tank & filter installation, and general preparation for the start of school.
- We will begin taking sponsorship requests this week. Mandy will be sending out an e-mail about this soon. As of today, we have the full 75 children registered who will receive tuition sponsorship as well as 50 who will pay their own tuition. Wubishet & Dawit are in the process of registering 25 more paying students for a total of 150 preschool students receiving education and food daily. If you would like to sponsor a child please reach out to Mandy as soon as possible. Sponsorship levels will be $30, $40, or $50 per month. More information will be available on our website.
- As One Love’s commitments indicate above,we are in prayerful need of donations for the establishment startup and operational costs for the school including the feeding program. Your continued prayer and financial support is a Godsend. If you are heart led to contribute to One Love’s vision, you can send a check to: One Love, PO Box 64006, Colorado Springs, CO 80962, or give it to one of us in person.
In HIS Love,
Megghan & Jared St. Aubyn
Mandy & Kit Bradshaw