When Darryl and I decided to adopt internationally I knew that I couldn't walk away from my child's birth country without doing more. I have always wanted to be involved with International development and knew that I wanted to give back to the country that gave me the greatest gift imaginable; my son. I wasn't sure how I was going to do this or to what degree, but I knew that I needed to do something. Having spent a little time in Ethiopia, it doesn't take long to realize the devastation of the country. There is very little health care, social systems, a serious issue with the education system, sanitation problems and the list goes on and on. The one thing that Ethiopia has is a lot of is people that want a better life. Everywhere you go there are people trying to make a living in any way possible. One of the places we visited was a weaving shop. Here they made beautiful hand made scarves which they sold to locals that would then mark them up and sell at a market, or to the few tourists that travel to Ethiopia. When we went into the shop I knew that there was a market in Canada for these (and the ideas began to flow....). What if we could sell these in Canada? We would be supporting Ethiopia by employing people. What a great thing to be able to do. We could then send the money back to the country by the way of supporting projects needed within the country.
So I decided to bring scarves back with us and see, so 52 came home with us. Another amazing organization doing work in Addis Ababa is an NGO that trains handicap and blind people to make a variety of things. One of the things are really cute child backpacks and once again the ideas started, so 6 came home with us. The last thing was coffee. Coffee is the backbone of the Ethiopian economy. It is the best in the world, and part of everyday life for the Ethiopians, so 30 bags made the trip to Canada.
I wasn't sure how this was all going to play out, but I thought, oh well if it doesn't work at least I've helped the local economy a little. When I arrived home I told a few good friends and family about my idea and they were on board.
On July 27, 2010 CHANCE FOR CHANGE INTERNATIONAL OUTREACH received charitable status from the Ontario government.
Great, so we have all this product, we have a name........now what. Well we got to work. We started telling people and in a few weeks we ordered 120 more scarves and 25 more backpacks, and we started developing our marketing plan. Now we needed to decide where the money was going to to.
Having spent a few weeks in Ethiopia gave me some time to make some connections with people there. I was lucky enough to be able to start a relationship with two Ethiopians that already have a name in the Canadian adoption community, and therefore I know are trustworthy, so I asked them where they thought the money would be best spent. There response was "money is needed everywhere". Not a lot of help, but it is the truth. We knew as an organization we wanted to help children and try to change their lives for the long term, not just a band aid solution. And in the end we thought the best way was through education.
Education in Ethiopia and I believe in most developing countries is not only a way to a better job and therefore life, but also the only way for some to get basic information about general health education, sex education and a healthy meal.
An average wage for 80 % of working Ethiopians is between 10-30 birr a day, which is $0.61 - $1.82 Canadian (depending on where you live and your job). School costs approx 100 Birr per year depending on the school. The thing that is most astonishing is the price of the school uniform. The cost is between 185-250 Birr per child $11.21 - $15.15 Canadian depending on the school. I don't think I have to point out the obvious problem. How can families afford to send their children. The answer is most can not. If they can somehow scrap together the 100 Birr per year, they can not afford the uniform, so their children do not go or they rotate the uniform. So in a family with 4 children, the children would go once every 4 days. If you add this to the estimated 5 Million orphans in the country you come up with a huge amount of uneducated youth.That is the reason why Chance for Change International Outreach decided to send all of our proceeds to help youth become educated.
We are doing this in a few ways. We have decided to sponsor a school about 40KM outside the capital city Addis Ababa in a city called Alemgena. The cost of living there is higher then in Rural Ethiopia because of the proximity to the capital, and therefore education is an even larger problem. We are currently working with the school to decide what is most needed and therefore what our first project with them will be. We also want to help children that can not afford to be schooled get to school. The way we have decided to do this is through our T-shirt Campaign.
We have had t-shirts printed with our Chance For Change Logo on them, and have marked them up the cost of a school uniform. Therefore every t-shirt sold directly sends a child to school. We are selling them for $20.00 for toddler or youth and $25.00 for adult sizes. We are very happy to report that since we have started actively selling our products about 3 weeks ago, we have not only already made $1600.00, but are also sending 10 children to school. Yehhhhhhhhhh
Hopefully by now, whoever is reading this is excited and wants to know where to purchase things. Well we currently have a facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Chance-for-Change-International-Outreach/144599875584686 (sorry it's so long, we need 100 fans before we get our short URL code) which we are currently setting up our store on. Our website will be coming soon, but for now you could just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or come and see us at one of our events. We are currently at the Kitchener Market in Ontario every Saturday from now until Christmas, and host home parties. Our scarves seem to be the most popular and can only be bought in person because they are each hand made and individual. Below are some pictures of our products. I hope you like them and want to support us to make the lives of some Children in Ethiopia and with any luck other developing nations a little brighter. This is our Chance for Change....