A mission trip is a trip of a lifetime, but just one wasn’t enough for PEC Vegetation Maintenance Supervisor Ryan Krause. Since 2013, he has made five trips to serve the people of Alade Genet, a church in a community of about 7,500 people near Awasa, Ethiopia, but a calling to adopt a child is what kicked off his journey.
“We wanted to visit the country and know the culture a little better,” Krause said. “Once we learned more about Ethiopia, it soon became clear to us that we weren’t just called to adopt one child, we were called to adopt a community. That’s when we became involved with Children’s HopeChest.”
Children’s HopeChest is a nonprofit organization that equips orphaned, vulnerable children, their families and communities by empowering them to become self-sustaining and escape the cycle of poverty. The organization introduced Krause and his wife to several Ethiopian communities, which led them to the Alade Genet church.
“The greatest thing about HopeChest is that they are truly invested in this community and what they need, emotionally and financially,” Krause said.
During their first three trips, the Krauses and HopeChest worked together to raise money for two water points in the Alade Genet area and, in 2016, they helped women create a market trade business. Thanks to PEC United Charities, our employees donated more than $8,000 to help fund these projects.
But this year, the Krauses and HopeChest dug a little deeper to enrich this community: They taught local women and children leadership skills in the hope they could learn to set and achieve goals and eventually support themselves.
“Our visit allowed them to take a break from their daily hardships,” Krause said, “but also help improve their livelihood. It also became clear to us that we need to recruit child sponsors because that will help generate more income-based activities in the community.”
About 15 out of 155 children in the Alade Genet community are still in need of a sponsor. Funding is helpful, but being a sponsor isn’t just about the money: It’s first and foremost about the relationship, Krause said.
“It’s about writing to them and sending a picture of you with your family,” he said. “Their lack of hope has been restored through this organization and sponsor relationships. I know first-hand that it means the world to [the children], and I know future sponsors’ lives will be changed forever, just like mine did through these children.”