12-01-15 / #GivingTuesday

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Today is Giving Tuesday!

Join us TODAY for #GivingTuesday
Today is the fifth annual Giving Tuesday, an international holiday that marks the start of the charitable giving season. Giving Tuesday is YOUR chance to make a difference in the lives of each child in the Omo Child home.

It costs $400 per child each month to keep the Omo Child home up and running. Monthly donations help to ensure the children are staying warm, getting local and nutritious food, and will secure an education for each of our growing kids. Not to mention, it will also contribute to our outreach in STOPPING Mingi all together.

Your participation TODAY with a gift on Giving Tuesday will have a serious impact.

We want you to get involved to help us care for our 45 growing children. Here’s how:
1.) Make a gift TODAY!
2.) Share our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts. And post on our page to show how you are celebrating this momentous day. Use the #GivingTuesday.
3.) Spread the word! Ask your friends and family to get involved and share the Mingi children’s story.
4.) Do not forget to use Amazon Smile while doing all of your online holiday shopping.  Just indicate that you would like to use Omo Child as your chosen non-profit and Amazon will do the rest.

We have done amazing things so far.  With your help we know that we can do so much more!  With a monthly donation you become a vital part of each and every one of their lives.  Help ensure their future… Join Our Family today and be part of this inspiring unfinished story! Make sure to either click on the banner below or here to watch our campaign video.
Please donate now!

Thank You!
The Omo Child Team

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11-23-15 / Join Our Family – Year End Campaign

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Dear Friends,

As we approach Thanksgiving, we are eternally grateful for so many things.  First and foremost we are thankful for each and every one of our 45 amazing children, their endless energy, inquisitive minds and inexhaustible spirits.  We are grateful for the privilege of raising these beautiful children, working through their individual struggles and celebrating each of their successes.

With so much to be thankful for, we come back time and again to the stark reality of the increasing costs of simply raising our children as they and their needs grow.

A perfect example is Kosta Shelo.  He has always been a very bright and happy boy, an idyllic “big” brother at the age of 9.  Kosta truly loves school, but as he grows up and as classes become more demanding, Kosta began to struggle.  Reading nevercame very easy to him and by the third grade, was clearly falling behind his peers in all subjects. Today, well into the school year, Kosta is at the top of his class and excelling in every subject!  What changed? An eye exam revealed that he needed glasses!  With Kosta’s new found successes, he works harder than ever at school so that one day he can become a doctor and share his many talents and treasures with others.  Paying it forward from the beginning!

As with most families, the reality always comes back to fulfilling the very basic needs of the whole family, while addressing the needs of each individual member as well.  We struggle each month to make ends meet. Each child currently requires $400 per month to provide for just his and her basic needs.  Included in that cost is paying for the house they live in, the food they eat each day, their clothing, education and medical care… such as Kosta’s glasses.  In addition, this is stretched to include the maintenance on our home, our one vehicle and only means of transportation and the need to be available spur of the moment should we have to rescue another child.

Each individual’s needs are weighed against the needs of the family as a whole and like most families, we get by knowing we are not alone. We too have our extended family, You!  Our aunts and Uncles, brothers and sisters, and grandparents cheering us on, sending their best wishes, additional clothing and toys, and most importantly the monthly donations that make it all possible.  For that we are eternally grateful!

We have done amazing things so far.  With your help we know that we can do so much more!  With a monthly donation you become a vital part of each and every one of their lives.  Help ensure their future… Join Our Family today and be part of this inspiring unfinished story! Make sure to either click on the banner or here to watch our campaign video.
Please donate now!

Thank You!
The Omo Child Team

 

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11-10-15 / Join Our Family – Year End Campaign

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Dear Friends,

It’s that time of year again, the hot summer days are winding down and the holiday season is upon us. As the year comes to a close, we must share with you some bittersweet news…

Unfortunately, the age-old tradition of Mingi is still being practiced in both the Hamar and Banna tribes in the Omo Valley, Ethiopia.  In spite of this, our entire team works tirelessly to save the lives of the children who are in danger, to protect, educate and raise the children that we have saved and to rid the world of Mingi.

Every child added to our home in Jinka allows for growth in many ways.  Growing our extended family worldwide is absolutely crucial for our work to continue. We need YOU to join our family!

For our year-end campaign, we are excited to bring you a little closer to the day-to-day action in the Omo Child home. Each Monday you will get to meet one of our children on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In addition, we want you to get to know some of our children a little more personally through our email updates.

Today, I am pleased to introduce Erbo, an amazing young boy who is currently in primary school.  Erbo was a healthy baby boy born into a loving Hamar family several years ago.  As he met each milestone his parents were overjoyed, until his first tooth appeared.  To their horror, his top teeth showed before his bottom teeth. His mother did everything she could to hold onto Erbo. She even knocked his top teeth out with a rock, but he was discovered and declared teeth Mingi.

In order to escape the so-called “curse” of drought, famine or worse for the entire Hamar tribe, as is feared with a Mingi child, Erbo’s parents were left with two choices: give their baby up to the elders for certain death, or entrust their son to Lale Labuko, a man from the Kara tribe who was known for his passion to prove Mingi children were not “cursed”.   Although distraught beyond belief, Erbo’s parents courageously chose Lale, knowing their son would get a second chance at life.

“Erbo is an incredible young boy, and was such a delightful addition to our family” says Lale.   “He is very playful! He loves to play soccer, is a diligent student and aspires to one day become a pilot.  He is very brave and confident, like a lion!  Ironically, Lion King is Erbo’s favorite movie!”

Each time John Rowe visits the Hamar village he shares stories with Erbo’s mother.   John and Erbo’s parents are mutually grateful for one another.  His mother says, “I hope that when my child grows up, his life will be a good example for others to follow.”  She adds, “I am a mother. I always think about him… Mothers never stop loving their children.”

Erbo’s mother has been reluctant in the past to visit the home in Jinka, but says she is now ready to see her son.  On John’s next visit to the Omo Valley, he will bring Erbo’s mother to visit this amazing young boy, who is thriving in his home and is adored by his huge family. We have no doubt she will be very proud of him!  

Erbo has a bright future ahead of him.  As do all of our beautiful children!  They are individually strong, independent and bright.  

The reality of this heart warming story is that it costs $400 dollars each month to provide for Erbo, for his home, his warm and clean bed, the nurturing and loving mommas, the healthy food prepared for him at each meal, his clothing, his school supplies, medical care, education, transportation, etc.  This is the case for each one of our 45 children!

We have done amazing things so far.  With your help we know that we can do so much more!  With a monthly donation you are a vital part of each and every one of their lives.  Help ensure their future… Join Our Family today and be part of this inspiring unfinished story! Make sure to either click on the banner or here to watch our campaign video.

Please donate now!

Thank You!
The Omo Child Team

 

 

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8-19-15 / Omo Child Documentary: Raising Awareness and Winning Awards

Dear Friends,

We knew Omo Child: The River and the Bush (produced by Little Pass Films) was off to a great start when it won “Best Documentary” at its World Premier at the DC Independent Film Festival in February of this year. However, we never could have anticipated the level of unyielding encouragement and enthusiasm that it has continued to receive. Omo Child: The River and the Bush has been spreading the inspiring story of Lale Lubuko and the incredible work that he has done to rescue mingi children; the film sheds light on the ancient practice, mingi, that has been taking children’s lives for countless decades.

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We are so grateful that this film has been able to bring Lale’s story all across the United States and Canada– screening at over 23 film festivals in the last six months. We are also deeply encouraged by the fervent response received from individuals and festivals alike, as it has been the frontrunner in many festivals and has won 11 awards!

newhope awardIn July, Omo Child: The River and the Bush won “Best Documentary” at both Real to Reel International Film Festival (North Carolina), New Hope Film Festival (Pennsylvania), and just last Saturday, to conclude the trifecta, was awarded “Best Documentary” at the Oceanside International Film Festival (California).

 

The process has certainly been frenetic at times, but underneath all of the chaos that comes with a small staff of volunteers entering the world of film festivals headfirst, is the opportunity to meet all of you; the heart and soul of Omo Child. Meeting all of you and hearing feedback not only allows us to relay the whole story, but your insight has also helped us develop our own process of self critique.

We are very thankful to Little Pass Films for helping tell the story of the Omo Valley– the beauty of its rich cultural diversity and the strength of its community and people, as well as our goals as an organization: to care for the growing number of children we have saved and to see the end of the mingi practice altogether.

You can view the trailer here, or learn more about the movie at including up coming screenings at www.omochildmovie.com

Thank you!

Omo Child Team

 

 

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7-27-15 / Summer Update – Clean Water in the Kara Tribe!

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Dear Friends,

We have just returned from the Omo Valley where we celebrated the dedication of clean water projects at the three main Kara villages. Using state of the art solar technology to pump and purify, nearly 6000 people now have access to clean water. This is an incredible event in the lives of the Kara people.

For many years the Kara blamed mingi children for sickness and death. The reality is the water they depended on for life was slowly killing them because of high levels of chloroform and other contaminants. Today, thanks to the efforts and financial support of the Italian government and the expertise of a small Italian NGO the Kara people have clean water for the first time in their lives. The health of the Kara communities will greatly improve as a result of this project.

Since before the ending of mingi by the Kara tribe in 2012, I have personally been asking various aid organizations for clean water. Today we have clean water, which is huge! It was a very special moment to me personally when I saw the women and children getting clean water at the water point near Dus village for the very first time. The water tasted so fresh. Many of the women were amazed to have clear water right at their village.

Following two nights in tents with the Kara, we drove nearly 3 hours to the closest town Turmi. Located in the Hamer region we spent the next three days with Omo Child staff, Hamer elders, and Hamer women. Our conversations were about how to end mingi and how we can help facilitate that change. Resistance to change is strong in this traditional community. Through education, awareness, and the day to day effort of our staff the harmful traditional practices will end. Our staff in the Hamer constantly struggle to save children from being killed. Yet the challenges facing our staff are numerous. In the past three months 27 children (that we are aware of) were killed in the Hamer. More effort is needed to stop the killing and our staff need a vehicle and additional resources to continue their mission. Support is needed.

Our last stop was in Jinka to visit the children at Omo Child. Seeing our children at the home in Jinka is always the highlight of my trip. Because of your support 45 beautiful children live in a safe and secure home. Our staff do a wonderful job of maintaining a clean, loving environment where the children are thriving.

Each time I visit the children’s home I look for Tensai. As you may recall Tensai was given only water the first two weeks of her life. Finally when we were able to rescue her, no one including the doctors who treated her thought she would survive. When I arrived at the home and saw Tensai, she looked big and as she ran to me I saw how healthy she is. I grabbed a quick picture with my iPhone and as you can see below there is an incredible change and she is a wonderful child. She and I played soccer and kicked the ball around.

We all should celebrate these 45 wonderful children who are alive and thriving because of you.

Thank you for your support of Omo Child.

John Rowe

Here are some of the girls in their brand new donated dresses which are hand made by volunteers at St James Episcopal Church in Lenoir, NC.  Special thanks to The Limbrunner Family for all you have done for the children!

 

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3-04-15 / Welcome Baby Muse To The Omo Child Family

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Dear Friends,

Balo Banko is a 20 year old girl in Southwest Ethiopia living a nightmare we cannot even imagine. While expecting her first baby, in her world, her baby was seen as a curse.  The only way to avoid that curse would be to kill the child after its birth.  Balo is Girl Mingi, carrying a child without being traditionally married in the Hamer tribe.  The elders and others in her community are already talking about the Girl Mingi, and making plans to safeguard their community from this dreaded curse, even though Balo herself does not even believe the curse exists.

Not too long ago, there was no hope for girls like Balo.  She knew of another tribe nearby who celebrated a ceremony ending Mingi a while back, although the elders and people in her village still believe it exists.

Balo sought refuge with friends outside of her village, gave birth and, in spite of the life threatening danger to all those involved, her son Muse is alive and well.

The specific details of what happened over those frantic months can only be imagined… the planning, the secret, distraught conversations between the elders of the Hamer tribe, and the Ethiopian government.

We are fortunate to have these pictures in real time of Muse’s rescue.  A healthy, happy baby boy, who has no idea what horror he just escaped or the infinite possibilities of his future.  As Muse is taken into the loving arms of his nannies and his 40+ new brothers and sisters, we have much to celebrate!  

Balo is currently at home in her village, safe, and with the knowledge that she can see Muse grow up and have the benefit of a life that she never dreamed possible.

Although we know hundreds of babies have been killed and are still lost to this unspeakable ritual, we have continued to make ourselves known in Ethiopia and throughout the world.  Education brought light to this dark secret for Lale Labuko over 15 years ago and he has made it his mission to bring the same light to as many of his people and the world as he can.

We celebrate the addition of Muse to our Omo Child family.  We celebrate that we continue to successfully grow and bring this awareness through education and positive changes in the tribes themselves, as seen in Balo’s courageous actions to save her son.  And we celebrate that through this education and today’s media we can share Balo’s story and pictures of baby Muse with all of you, our extended Omo Child family!

In order to better help us spread the word, Little Pass Films has been in production of a documentary to tell the story of Lale Labuko and the children of Omo Child for the past five years.  Many hours of interviews with tribal elders, tribal people, and Lale’s vision have been transformed into an astounding unprecedented  piece of artwork that will further help tell this story to the world!  We are proud to announce this film, Omo Child: The River and The Bush, just won Best Documentary Film at it’s world premiere at the Washington D.C. Independent Film Festival!

Please help us to make Mingi extinct in our world!  Share our website www.omochild.org.  Share the documentary trailer at omochildmovie.com.   Join us today and become part of our extended Omo Child family with a monthly donation.  Contact us to find out what you can do to be involved in changing the world we live in!

Sincerely,

The Omo Child Team

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1-05-15 / More Than A Home – Thank You!

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Dear Friends,

We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making our More Than A Home campaign so successful. Thanks to you, we raised $69,850. As you all know, Omo Child is completely donor funded. Thanks to you we can provide a home, food and education and all the love and care they could ever need in the New Year. Way to start 2015 off with a BANG!

Just because the campaign is over, doesn’t mean you cannot still give. If you missed the campaign, you can donate through our website and write “More Than A Home” in the comment box, we will add it to the campaign total. And if you’d like to be a constant supporter for our children, consider making a monthly donation here. Big or small, any donation helps, and we are extremely grateful for every penny.

Our children are ever growing; it is our greatest joy watching them flourish. However, with growing kids, there is always a need. New shoes to get to school in, more food for our growing boys, a new bed when they can no longer fit in their toddler beds; all these milestones are so much fun for us to experience with them. Our nannies, lovingly called “Mamas” by our kids, get to be there for the first steps, first days of school, and first words.  So if you can, please, continue to help us raise these children with all that they deserve in this life!

Thank you for making this campaign so successful. Omo Child truly has the best supporters we could ever dream of! You have all impacted the lives of our kids, and our team!

We wholeheartedly mean it when we say, Thank you for your helping hand and open heart!

Sincerely,

The Omo Child Team
 

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12-27-14 / More Than A Home – Last Chance to Give 2014!

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Dear Friends,

As we wrap up another year at Omo Child, we can’t help but to look back at 2014; the goals that we accomplished, the losses we experienced and the countless privileges we are entrusted with for the sake of each of our precious children.

We cannot possibly count all of the people that help make Omo Child more than a home, but without a doubt we know that our nannies (Momma’s) are irreplaceable in the heart and sole of Omo Child, and to each one of our children.

It takes a lot of hard work from all of the staff at Omo Child every minute of every day to make our house a nurturing home filled with love, laughter and compassion.  The momma’s work in 24 hour shifts, two days on and one day off, with unconditional dedication that is seen and felt in every smile and hug.

An example we love to share is the story of our lead nanny, Zeritu, and Gideon rescued as a baby, who suffered from severe malnutrition.  As a result of his condition, he required much more attention than the other infants.  Zeritu took him under her wing from the moment they met, so much so that when her shift came to an end, she could not bear to leave him.  Zeritu took Gideon to her own home so she could continue to care for his every need around the clock, seven days a week.   The love and bond they share is seen in the picture at the top of this email.

Gideon is now 2 ½ years old and, although he is a very happy child, he still struggles with special needs.  Each need is attended to with doting tenderness by Zeritu, as well as, all of the rest of our family in the Omo Child home.

Each of our 10 nannies are well qualified for their jobs and are essential to the raising of our rescued children.  Jobs for women are rare in Jinka.  We are very proud to provide a safe and clean environment for our staff and a good living wage, both of which are nearly unheard of for women in Southwest Ethiopia.  Each nanny works tirelessly to care for the needs of all of our rescued children, and the love and tenacity is seen and felt by all who come to our home and meet them in addition to our wonderful staff.

Your donations to Omo Child go directly to the salaries of these women, as well as the complete care of each one of our children.  Our nannies are invaluable to Omo Child, and to all of our rescued children who started out their lives with all odds against them they are treasured and irreplaceable.

Now is the time…the clock is ticking on 2014!
Please help us with a monthly donation of any size!  Wednesday, December 31, is the last day to make a tax-deductible contribution in 2014! Click here to go directly to our donation page.

Together we can change the world, one child at a time!  Thank you so much for your support.  We wish you and your family the warmest New Year.

Thank you,
The Omo Child Team

 

 

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12-01-14 / A Message from Co-Founder Lale Labuko

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Dear Friends,

My wife, Gido, and I had a baby girl, Regina, born in June of 2007.  I cannot explain the feelings that came over me the second I saw her beautiful face!  I became a father!  Of course I was overcome with joy and love, (and still am!), but immediately felt a true sense of responsibility and an overwhelming urge to protect that child with my life.  I knew it required a lot of hard work, but more than that I knew instantly that my life had changed forever and there was an endless amount of love and patience I had never imagined before.

During this same time I had been meeting secretly with the youths from the Kara tribe about our mission to end Mingi.  We had to meet in “Dibba”, the bush, a secret place.  It was always terrifying. We were breaking all the rules by meeting for a social issue without the knowledge of the elders.  In my tribe, young people have no ‘voice’.  The elders of our tribe alone have all the power to decide what we do as a society. I had a list of all of the recent children killed in our villages, 26 that we knew of.  I told my peers “As a young generation this is our time.  We should stand together and pledge to save the Mingi children.”

We all stood together that day and took six oaths:
1.    If I am ever called for Mingi meeting anytime, I will attend.
2.    I shall never allow any Mingi kids to be killed in my family or in my village.
3.    I shall never let my girlfriend get pregnant.
4.    I shall always help and save declared Mingi children in Kara society.
5.    As part of our young generation, I take full responsibility to teach our elders and community to save and protect Mingi children and slowly bring an end to Mingi.
6.    I believe Mingi is a Blessing, not a curse.

In 2008 we learned about a Mingi child and that the elders had already planned to kill.  Haylo, the mother, refused to let Bale, her daughter, go with the elders and fled to the other side of the river.  Immediately, I instructed some of my group members to go and to speak with Haylo and see if she would allow us to save Bale.  This was the moment we were preparing for!  After speaking with some of the most powerful elders, they agreed to wait an extra day before they took action.  I rented a car from Jinka because I knew we did not have much time, together with two members of our group, Gudi and Ari, we set out to rescue Bale. She was so beautiful, and the same age as my daughter.  As soon as I saw her face I was once again overcome with joy and love.  We rescued Bale, took her directly to our own house, bathed her and fed her.  She was so hungry!   Gido and I cared for her as our own daughter.

Our rescue of Bale was very unique among our people.  Everyone was so amazed that we saved a ‘sentenced child’, but we continued to reassure everyone that Bale was in fact a Blessing.  She loved to be hugged, she was so quiet and relaxed.   Bale and Regina were both almost two years old, and they loved to laugh and play together.

Our neighbor and good friend, Zeritu, came to my house and said “Lale, this is God’s work!  I want to serve these children and be part of this project”.  I told her to join us, and she became our first “Mamma”, to help Gido with the baby girls.  Zeritu is now our lead Nanny, guiding nine other nannies in her footsteps as “Mammas” to our children!

We were very motivated by saving this one precious life and we knew we had to do more and more.  Gude and Ari returned to Dus village to get more information about Mingi children and, before the month was over, we saved three more Kara children and two Hamar children.  Each baby so vulnerable, so defenseless, yet each one so full of joy, so unique, and so spirited in their own way.

Our home was becoming very crowded.  We decided to rent a small house, and from then our blessings continued to multiply!  We are now a family of over 40 children!  We have 10 Nannies, (Zeritu is the lead Nanny), a nurse and an entire staff to help care for our children.

When I arrive home now, all of the children run towards me, smiling with their entire faces and bodies!  They jump up and down and grab at my hands, cheering all together yet in one voice “Aba Aba!” (Amharic for “Dad!”) My heart instantly melts!  Most of the children want to share something special, show me their most recent homework or test score, some ask “How are you doing, Aba?”, and others just want to play with me like their very best friend has come home again!  There are no words to express my pride and my joy!  The Mammas tell me “when they see you, Lale, they all show their true happiness.”

No matter what kind of a day I have had, those beaming faces bring back that same joy and excitement I experienced in June of 2007 when I first saw my own daughter for the first time, as well as that same sense of responsibility and wanting to protect each and every one of them from any pain or sadness in their lives.

I am thankful every day for this opportunity.  As far as we have come I cannot help but worry, as every father does, about the future.  As our children grow, their needs must be met with more food, bigger beds, larger clothes and shoes, as well as the continued opportunity for a great education.  The older children know that they are Mingi, and that they are also blessed.   They understand the necessity of education to help all people understand the value and importance of each life.  They will be the answer for the deep rooted poverty in the Omo Valley, the struggle for women’s rights and equality.  I know they will resolve tribal conflict and bring great leadership to our community and they will help make our world a better place!

Please continue to help support our mission.

Thank you,
Lale Labuko

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11-01-14 / More Than A Home

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Dear Friends,

With your love, compassion and support Omo Child has been able to rescue and provide for 44 wonderful children. They have all been given a second chance at life. We could not have gotten this far without YOUR help. For this, we thank you!

The seasons have begun to change, the weather is cooling, and it is the time of year where we gather with friends and loved ones, grateful for each other and all the blessings we share. We gather together to share meals, we sit around fires talking about our future plans.  We all have so much in common, yet we all come from very different places in life.  Our 44 children, for instance – they live a happy, healthy, carefree life; running, jumping, laughing, sharing ideas, fears and dreams, with no knowledge of how horrific their little lives began, or how miraculously far reaching their futures are.   They owe all of this to the generosity of many people around the world, most of whom they will never meet.

A plot of land sits unused and untouched on the outskirts of Jinka, Ethiopia. It was given to Omo Child by the Ethiopian government to use for our children. We imagine someday building a house that can be a permanent home for all of our children.  A place where they can grow and feel safe. A permanent home, where roots can be planted, free from the fear of eviction and with more than just a few bathrooms!

cf8965cb-82e2-4fa9-a42a-62f317011774The reality is, Omo Child cannot afford to build a home to house our 44 children.  In fact, we are constantly struggling with the costs of the day to day operations – paying for rent, food, milk, diapers, clothing, medical care, transportation, and the salary of the nannies who love and care for our children as if they were their very own.  In total, the cost is approximately $12,000 a month for basic needs.

59a32ed2-2971-44b7-a241-02981c995a30Currently our children live in 2 rented single family homes side by side in a neighborhood, modest in every aspect imaginable with one bathroom in one home and two bathrooms in the second home for the older children.  Our two homes combined are about 2500 sq ft. and, even though they are meant for families of 5 or 6 in each home, at any given time they house a combined total of about 60 people, 44 children and 15 + staff, including the nannies, cooks and housekeepers.  The “kitchen” is a small building in the back between the two houses. There is no oven, refrigerator, and most of the time not even consistent electricity.  Fresh produce must be bought from the market daily and prepared using a simple wooden chopping block and a large pot sitting atop an open fire culminating in the meals for the day, shared by the 60 individuals who make up our Omo Child family.
As we enter into this gift-giving season please consider a tax deductible Holiday Gift which can dramatically impact the lives our our beautiful children and help them reach their full potential.  This year we are aiming higher then ever!  Our goal this season is $100,000 by December 31st! These children have survived despite all the odds against them, they deserve a home that is truly theirs, a home large enough to accommodate them all comfortably and securely.  We have already proven that together we can accomplish miracles.
Gratefully Yours,
The Omo Child Team

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