We have huge news!

Remember the jaw-dropping $83,000 that we raised at Gems & Java? We have some exciting news to share about where some of those funds are headed.

If you’ve been following our Girls Gotta Run profiles this summer, you know just how powerful an impact that program can have on a young lady in Ethiopia. We began by sponsoring five athletic scholars, and we’ve spoken to those lovely girls about how the program has enriched their day-to-day – helping them get the nutrition, exercise, knowledge and friendship that they need to live whole, happy lives and dream for the future.

But now we are going to touch even more lives. We are so excited to announce that we will now be sponsoring 21 athletic scholars through the Girls Gotta Run Foundation! That’s right – TWENTY ONE!

Check out this post for all the details about the Girls Gotta Run Foundation. An athletic scholarship provides one young lady with everything from running equipment to healthy meals to life skills classes to medical care. The program even includes the girls' mothers, inviting them to learn about financial literacy and form a savings group.

Suffice it to say, this is an organization working hard to create sustainable change in Ethiopia, and we are proud to be a partner.

Back to school in Ethiopia

We can’t celebrate fall without thanking all the wonderful teachers out there who are exposing kids and young adults to the world around them. Many of our volunteers are teachers or educational professionals, and we are grateful for every one. Happy September, teachers!

Whalen, a teacher at Gallo Shanto, told us that the school will not become dependent on aid from overseas.

Whalen, a teacher at Gallo Shanto, told us that the school will not become dependent on aid from overseas.

Now, imagine trying to teach without any desks, pencils or libraries. For many teachers in Ethiopia, that’s the reality. They are doing all the hard work of moulding young minds without many of the resources we depend on in North America. But that doesn’t stop them.

We were particularly inspired by Whalen, a teacher at Gallo Shanto, who spoke with us on our last trip to Ethiopia. You might remember some of her incredible words:

“What you tell us (through your actions) is that people have time for Ethiopia. People, regardless of colour or differences, can become one. You have shown us through the work you do. It is powerful,” she told us.

You have shown us...that people have time for Ethiopia. People, regardless of colour or differences, can become one.
— Whalen, Gallo Shanto Teacher
MWAHFE volunteers handed out clothing to the teachers at Gallo Shanto school in 2017.

MWAHFE volunteers handed out clothing to the teachers at Gallo Shanto school in 2017.

Whalen received a pair of eyeglasses from Shelley during a previous trip, and this year we handed out T-shirts to the staff.

But Whalen’s speech inspired us more than she could have imagined. She told us that the teachers and students at Gallo Shanto will not become dependent on help from outsiders – she believes that one day, they will defeat poverty.

 

So as we start another school year, we are thinking of teachers near and far, and we take heart in the amazing example of strength and determination that teachers like Whalen are setting for students in Ethiopia.

What's September without sports?

Most of you know all about Gecho, our friend, driver and translator who makes our trips to Ethiopia as smooth as possible! But did you know that MWAHFE has inspired Gecho to take on some of his own projects empowering young women?

Recently MWAHFE was able to donate soccer uniforms, socks, and balls to a girls team that Gecho helps support in central Ethiopia, a few hours from Addis. It’s the first time the teens have had jerseys or a proper set of soccer balls with which to play. Gecho loves supporting these young ladies, and he looks for sponsorships to further help the team.

Gecho and the girls soccer team that he supports.

Gecho and the girls soccer team that he supports.

“I start to support the girls because of Shelley. Before, I support the boys team,” Gecho explained. “Shelley tries to find ways to support women, and I am with you. I just continued on.”

This is such a heartwarming story – and not just because of Gecho’s source of inspiration.

MWAHFE’s support makes a huge difference for the soccer team.

The girls were eager to see their new soccer shoes and soccer balls! MWAHFE donated uniforms and equipment to the team.

The girls were eager to see their new soccer shoes and soccer balls! MWAHFE donated uniforms and equipment to the team.

Bethelehem Kassahun, a Grade 6 student on the team, started playing soccer with the boys at school.

“That is when I fell in love with soccer. I am from a very poor family and the only time I am happy is when I play soccer,” she said.

Soccer is a common childhood activity for kids in Canada. But in Ethiopia, most girls aren’t afforded that opportunity.

One player said that her brother was always given the soccer ball. Several others had to hide their love of the sport from disapproving families.

I feel so confident whenever I carry my training bag to go to soccer.
— Habiba, member of a girls soccer team

Gecho knows what a difference this team makes for the girls.

“Playing soccer has helped the girls to be healthier, cheerful, athletic, and they are able to make lots of friends,” he said.

A simple game of soccer can have a ripple effect.

“Whenever I come to play soccer I feel the most confident, and now I have lots of friends,” said Habiba Sultan, 15.

Her teammate Hasset Nigusse echoed those thoughts.

“I feel so confident whenever I carry my training bag to go to soccer,” said Habiba, who used to sneak over to the stadium and watch soccer, unbeknownst to her family.

“I now play on a women’s soccer team, and I am so happy and have lots of friends,” she said.

What a sweet thank you we received from the soccer team. Isn't this sign amazing? It's such a pleasure to see these athletes with their new equipment!

What a sweet thank you we received from the soccer team. Isn't this sign amazing? It's such a pleasure to see these athletes with their new equipment!

And guess what? The work doesn’t stop here.

Thanks to the financial support of MWAHFE, Gecho is now preparing to set up a second girls soccer team. We can’t wait to see more happy faces on the soccer field (or should we say football pitch!) soon!

Beating the odds at Gallo Shanto

  • Name: Alemitu Arga
  • Age: 15
  • School: Gallo Shanto

Alemitu, a Grade 9 student, received an outfit from Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia a few years ago on a trip to Gallo Shanto.

She’s worn that outfit almost every single day since then.

We are so inspired by Ethiopian students like Alemitu, who never take the opportunity to go to school for granted.

We are so inspired by Ethiopian students like Alemitu, who never take the opportunity to go to school for granted.

“Having clothes, I feel equal with my friends,” she said. “I feel comfortable when I go outside. It’s so important to have clothes.”

A simple gift – one shirt and a pair of pants – made it possible for Alemitu to go to class and learn.

But after years of daily use, the outfit is at the end of its life.

“I can’t wear it for special occasions but inside the house is fine,” she said. She wanted to keep going to school, so Alemitu bought an inexpensive pair of pyjamas and began wearing them to school.

Having clothes, I feel equal with my friends. I feel comfortable when I go outside. It’s so important to have clothes.
— Alemitu
Alemitu Arga, a student at Gallo Shanto who was, at one time, wearing pyjamas to school because she had no suitable clothing.

Alemitu Arga, a student at Gallo Shanto who was, at one time, wearing pyjamas to school because she had no suitable clothing.

In February, when MWAHFE volunteers travelled to Ethiopia, Alemitu and dozens of other students received a new outfit purchased by Shelley and her mother.

It’s devastating to think a shirt could stand between a student and their schooling. But it sure makes Alemitu and her friends grateful. She doesn’t take the opportunity to go to school for granted.

Many students in Ethiopia show incredible strength and resilience. Alemitu is determined to continue her studies and get an education.

She hasn’t decided yet what she wants to do with her life – she loves social affairs and civics classes – but one profession stands out.

One day, Alemitu might like to be a teacher.

Surgical Success Stories - #111, #112, #113

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Gomose Goa is a widow who has suffered from 3rd° pelvic prolapse for five years. She has delivered nine children and only three remain alive. She is very poor and underwent surgery to correct her prolapse today. Thank you for making such a great difference in her life.

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Please meet Ayane Failitamo, a 45-year-old woman who has been pregnant nine times and delivered eight children, four of whom are living. She has suffered from 3rd° prolapse for six months. She is very grateful to you for helping her with her condition.

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This is Adanech Mune who is about 50 years old. She has delivered five children, three of whom are living. She has suffered from 4th° prolapse for three years. She came to us from Dr. Mary's clinic in Ajoura. Thank you for helping to change Adanech's life!

Meet Yeurosalem!

When she grows up, Yeurosalem is going to be the best runner in the world – oh, and a surgeon, too.

Athletic scholar Yeurosalem.

Athletic scholar Yeurosalem.

And her parents are her biggest cheerleaders. Yeurosalem’s mom and dad are committed to getting their daughter a good education. Two years ago, when times were tough, Yeuroalem’s mom, Aynalew, spoke to the principal to see if there was any help the family could receive.

“I need her to have a higher education. Even now, she has more knowledge than me," Aynalew said.

Aynalew said she would do anything she could to keep her daughter in school, even cut back on her own meals to save money.

Luckily, she didn't have to.

That’s when Yeurosalem joined Girls Gotta Run.

Aynalew is so proud of the work that her daughter is doing with school and sport.

She doesn’t want to influence her daughter’s future career choice – she’s behind Yeurosalem no matter what.

Yeurosalem at school with her mom, Aynalew

Yeurosalem at school with her mom, Aynalew

And Girls Gotta Run has offered confidence and a sense of empowerment.

“This program means big impact in my life,” Yeurosalem told us.

Watching her friends in Girls Gotta Run helped demonstrate to Yeurosalem the power of a group of strong and ambitious young people.

“They can solve problems together – not because we are females together, but because we have the potential,” she said.

Yeurosalem loves math and English. But she’s also an avid athlete. And growing up with three sisters and two brothers, she had lots of siblings with whom to play soccer.

All that activity takes fuel. Before Girls Gotta Run, it was tough for Yeurosalem’s family to scrape together a lunch to send with her to school.

They worried she might get sick and be forced to miss class.

Now, she has three meals a day – and even a snack after practice. 

Aynalew hopes her daughter will pay it forward.

“I raised them with a lot of suffering. I wish they will have a better life and that they will help others, because they have received help.”

Meet Biruk!

Before Biruk started Girls Gotta Run, she didn’t hear many people talking about the accomplishments or power of female Ethiopians.

“I didn’t get the chance to know about women’s potential,” she said.

Now she’s exposed to an almost daily dose of girl power inspiration.

Biruk, one of the athletic scholars MWAHFE sponsors through the Girls Gotta Run Foundation

Biruk, one of the athletic scholars MWAHFE sponsors through the Girls Gotta Run Foundation

The life skills lessons, the practices – and the fun! – she gets through Girls Gotta Run have allowed her to develop friendships, too.

When she’s not running, Biruk’s favourite subject is geography.

She wants to go to university one day, and dreams of being a journalist. She wants to give back to Ethiopia.

“We need to help the rural area.”

Biruk walks about 15 minutes to school every day. She is so thankful to be a part of Girls Gotta Run, where she can count on a healthy snack – her favourite thing to eat after practice is a banana – and running clothes and shoes to help fuel her passion.

I feel better in my health. I’m getting stronger every day.
— Biruk

But Biruk loved running long before she became an athletic scholar.

“I love the exercising,” she said. “I feel better in my health. I’m getting stronger every day.”

Surgical Success Stories - #110

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Say hi to Dalibe Unke! She has 10 living children and has been living with a second degree pelvic prolapse for a year. She is so grateful to MWAHFE for sponsoring her surgery. Thank you for making a difference in her life!