Editor's Note: Due to safety concerns, we had to adjust our travel plans for the 2018 trip. The post below has been edited to reflect that new reality.
Only a few days until we load up a trailer with a big pile of suitcases and set off for the airport. We're going to Ethiopia!
This year a group of three volunteers are headed to East Africa. We go to Ethiopia about every year or two to check in on those programs, ensure our funds are making a difference, and to share some of the incredible stories that we see and hear.
We wanted to give you a chance to meet the folks who are making this journey and hear about their goals for the trip.
Introducing our 2018 team!
SHELLEY GREEN: Founder, Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia
Shelley started this organization after adopting her daughter from Ethiopia eight years ago and witnessing the daily realities for vulnerable women and children. She's been back a handful of times since that first trip, but every time it's an adventure. And there's always something new to learn.
"I hope to gain a better understanding of the Ethiopian people, their culture and how our organization can serve the women and children. Each time I am there, I learn more about the projects we support and our project partners. Learning more about the people and the culture is a joy," Shelley said.
She's also eager to get back to all of the people who are involved with our work.
"I am so excited to see the people I love in Ethiopia. Spending time with the children and the women who benefit from our funds is an absolute highlight."
VAL EASTON: Volunteer and donor
This isn't Val's first trek to Ethiopia. She was part of the team that travelled there back in February 2017. Pretty much from the moment she set foot in Soddo, Val was hooked. She couldn't wait to go back. For Val, it's all about the people.
"I am thrilled to be able to spend time again with the inspiring people who lead our projects in Ethiopia. It will be uplifting to be with them and to learn more about the progress of our work," she said.
One of Val's favourite experiences last year was playing with the kids at Busajo. These are children who have left home or been separated from their families - often due to financial pressures, like not having enough to eat or needing to work to support their family - and lived on the streets. Busajo is an incredible program that helps to rehabilitate street children and, in most cases, reunite them with their families.
We are counting on Val to keep us cheerful during the long car rides and any stressful moments - her love of music and tendency to break out in song is perfect for smoothing over any rough patches!
MEGAN STACEY: Volunteer and donor
Megan is one half of our communications team, and she's on deck to gather all the interviews, photos and videos in Ethiopia. It's the very best kind of "work!"
"It's such a privilege to talk with the Ethiopian people involved with our projects, and an honour to share their stories," Megan said.
"We often find that the women with whom we speak are willing to be vulnerable and let us in, sharing all kinds of information about their lives and families. We're so grateful for their trust, and we don't take it for granted."
Megan travelled to Addis and Soddo, Ethiopia back in 2017. This is her second trip to Ethiopia.