Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A giveway to benefit Reeds of Hope and share about a damaging fire in eastern DRC

As many of you know, I work closely with Reeds of Hope, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  Roughly two weeks ago, a house in Bukavu where many of these children lived caught fire.  Thankfully, no one was injured -- but the house was destroyed.  The interior, roof and ceilings are gone; only the walls remain.  Everything in the house was lost, including furniture, bedding, appliances, dishes, linens, books, and all of the kids' belongings. The children are pictured below, standing on the steps of the house, along with photographs of the damage to the house.  Many of them are currently living on the second floor of the house; the rainy season combined with no roof is creating flooding on this already damaged floor of the home. 

Reeds of Hope is committed to rebuilding this home to ensure the continued safety and well-being of the children who lived there.  Estimates for this job are currently at $26,000. In one week, I will be hosting a raffle at the Reeds of Hope website, with the goal of raising $10,000.  75% of the money raised from the raffle will go towards construction costs. The remaining funds will be applied towards our work in Congo. This week, I am hosting a giveaway to raise interest in the raffle.  Read on to discover how you can participate in the giveaway -- and to learn more about our organization! 

What do we do at Reeds of Hope?   Reeds of Hope supports orphaned and vulnerable children and their families with in-country solutions in DRC. 

Currently, our projects in Eastern DRC include: 

-School fees, uniforms and supplies for 85 primary and secondary students in Eastern DRC: all of these children reside in a home run by an older couple for children who have been orphaned or whose family cannot care for them.  This couple has been caring for children for over 20 years, and have adopted many of the children themselves.  These kids are supported through individual sponsorships.  Starting in January 2016, we will be seeking additional sponsors for these children.    Please see our website for more information.  www.reedsofhope.org

-University fees for 8 teens/young adults:  These teens and young adults have grown up in the home described above.   Faced with extremely high unemployment rates in Eastern DRC, they have the drive and passion to pursue higher education so that they will be able to find a job.  All of the students' educational costs have been funded!

-Social Worker in Eastern DRC:  in the past year, Reeds of Hope has hired a social worker to work with our Congolese partners to implement family reunification programs or other long term permanent housing for some of the children.  Donations to our organization help to fund this work.

-Staff Training:  Family reunification work is new in Eastern DRC, and we believe in Congo as a whole.  For this reason, we wanted our social worker and manager to attend a training program outside of Congo to better prepare them for their work.   Many thanks to Abide Family Center for their help on this project!  
This project is funded by one time donations as well as monthly donations from interested donors.  Please see our website to contribute to this essential role.  www.reedsofhope.org

-Reunification programs: We strongly believe that, where possible, children in orphanages should be reunited with their birth families. Our organization is committed to family reunification, and has successfully assisted a grandmother in raising her grandmother.  This boy was placed in an orphanage as an infant, and identified as a candidate for international adoption.  He was ultimately reunited    She struggled with her ability to support her grandson, so Reeds of Hope helped her restart her business.  He is doing well and his grandmother is successfully working to support him. Most importantly, they are thrilled to be reunited and living together as a family. These efforts have been supported through one time donations.

-Long term quality foster care programs: When children cannot be adopted or moved into their adoptive homes, our organization has found capable foster parents.    For example, two small children who had been adopted by a family in the U.S. were unable to leave DRC to join their family (for many complicated reasons).  We were able to help the adoptive parents locate a  loving, long term quality foster care program for these children, and our manager is assisting the adoptive parents in supporting them.  

-Short-term emergency shelter for children in crisis: Due to a lack of maternal health care in Eastern Congo, far too many women die in childbirth.  Reeds of Hope provides short-term housing and care for the babies who have lost their mothers.  For example, Reeds of Hope was able to facilitate the care of a small baby in the Family Bethlehem home.  The mother of the baby had died and the extended family could not take care of such a small infant.  The baby will be returning to the extended family once she is strong, eating solid food, and healthy.   This project is funded by one time and regular donations, usually on a case by case basis. 

Our projects in Kinshasa include:

-Supporting vulnerable mothers:  Reeds of Hope supports a sewing training center to help at-risk mothers support themselves and their families.  The center provides education and training to the women, and further assistance starting their own business.  Upon completion of the program, the women are provided with their own sewing machines. 

-Supporting older children:  Once children "age out" of an orphanage, they are at risk of ending up jobless and homeless on the streets of Kinshasa.  Reeds of Hope provides support to boys and girls who have grown up in a large, well-known orphanage and are closing to "aging out."  We have partnered with a local organization to help these teens receive an education, specifically in English language skills and working with computers.   Our goal is to set these young people up with a small shop in Kinshasa, to provide a secure income and future. 

And now....the giveaway!  To raise interest in our upcoming raffle, I am giving away a great package of items from Eastern Congo:  handmade Christmas cards and Theo Chocolate bars (pictured below)! You can enter below, limited to one entry per person. You can earn additional entries by visiting our facebook page, visiting our website, and sharing the link to this post on Facebook or Instagram, and tagging Reeds of Hope with your entry.  The winner will be announced 10:00 a.m. (Tanzania time; 5:00 a.m. EST) on Sunday, November 15th.  Good luck, and thank you for your support!

NOTE:  You do not have to wait for the raffle to help support the rebuilding project!  You can always make a tax-deductible donation to our organization via our website. To ensure the funds go to rebuilding the house, simply note "HOUSE" when making your donation.

(Christmas cards made in Bukvau, DRC out of banana leaves.  10 cards of each design (no envelopes).)

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