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Mountains of Hope

Life in the Mountain Community of Ottoro

Living an hour’s walk from the mountain village of Ottoro, the Demeke family and the Bufebo family each live on less than a dime per day. With nine children to raise between the two families in an area of land too small to produce adequate food to feed them all, life is a struggle. The mountainous region isn’t ideal for farming, but crops are essential in the families’ survival. Each family has a few false banana trees, which look nearly identical to banana trees, but do not actually produce bananas. The trees are nevertheless useful as the roots provide a month’s worth of food and the branches provide materials to roof the huts. The trees are extremely drought resistant, which is essential in Ethiopia as it is currently undergoing a multi-year drought. Food, building material, and drought resistant: what’s not to love? The problem with these trees is how long they take to mature. It takes seven years before the roots are ready for consumption or the branches for construction. Even with such a lengthy time to mature, these false banana trees are essential to Ethiopian families’ wellbeing, requiring little maintenance and are useful in a variety of ways. In addition to the false banana trees, both families rely heavily on gardening for their food supply. The Demeke’s have a 12x12 garden outside their hut, while the Bufebo’s garden is not even half that size. With such a small garden, and limited growing options due to the type of soil located on the side of the mountain, it is a struggle for the families to put food on the table. The main crop grown is a type of cabbage because of its relatively short growing season. Being dense in nutrients, it is mainly in soups and stews. With limited land to garden, it is common for the families to eat only four times or less each week, in effort to not outpace their food supply.

Unfortunately, these families do not have any animals to assist them with food production and cannot afford to even buy a single chicken to produce eggs. For additional income, the mothers frequently visit the market, in attempt to trade some cabbage for an egg or other food. Depending on which market is open on that particular day of the week, the walk can take up to seven hours each way to and from the market! On the occasions where a mother is able to trade some garden produce for an egg or some other essential, the exchange is usually valued around ten cents. On a good day, complete with fourteen hours of walking with additional time spent bartering and trading, a profit of ten cents is a victory.

As if food scarcity isn’t a big enough challenge to overcome, water scarcity is also an issue. Occasionally, the rainy season might provide a temporary mountain stream to get water from, but often these waters are too dirty to drink due to erosion as the water carries dirt from the mountain down with it. Outside of rarely catching a break during the rainy season, water is extremely hard to come by. Normally, the mothers from each family have to walk an hour each way for water. Every morning, the women begin their shoeless walk to the river with their jugs empty, returning home a few hours later carrying 25 liters (approx. 7 gallons) of drinking with them. Because the area is so mountainous and there are no real roads, carts cannot be used to assist with gathering water. While the women are out collecting water, the school-age children walk to school, about a 45 minute journey. Each family has at least one child at Adams Thermal Academy (ATA) in Ottoro. Each ATA student is given a full uniform, including shoes, upon enrollment. These children are the only family members who have a pair of shoes. What a blessing!

With food and water scarcity being such a prevalent hurdle to the community, Adams Thermal Foundation (ATF) felt called to action. Currently, efforts are being made to bring a lunch program to the Ottoro campus. A daily meal would not only work wonders for the students, both physically and academically, but would also lift a huge burden off of the shoulders of their parents. Secondly, ATF is working on bringing water to the area by building a pipeline from a mountain spring, roughly five miles away. ATF is currently in the planning and fundraising stage in both of these projects, with hopes to begin implementation within just a few months. Both projects cost about $100,000 each, but an abundant return on investment is expected in the form of changed lives, both physically and eternally. At the heart of it all is Jesus Christ and His Gospel. ATF aims to not only provide clean drinking water to the community, but also Living Water. ATF seeks to empower the community to a better life, both physically and spiritually by being the hands and feet of Jesus and introducing the community to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. To God be the Glory!

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” – John 14:6

 


 

The Rose: part 3

The Blessing of Productivity & Community

Self-Help Groups: to bring forth holistic change so that they are empowered economically, socially, spiritually, politically, etc. Self-Help Groups, or SHGs are small groups of community members who work together to form an entrepreneurial team. While the SHG training focuses largely on economic empowerment through entrepreneurship, training also includes life skills. With a goal to bring about holistic change in more than just the financial realm, training is provided in the areas of sanitation and hygiene, childcare and reproductive health, social development, spiritual growth, and more. SHGs are equipped with a well-rounded arsenal of tools to empower themselves to live a balanced, fulfilled life.

Currently, there are 11 SHGs in the Hossana area, with expansion inevitably approaching. In previous installments, we highlighted the Tsegereda, or “Rose,” SHG. Tsegereda is made up of 13 women, each with their own story of how the SHG has positively impacted their lives. In the prior episodes, we got a glimpse into the life of Asnakech and learned of the heartbreak she endured and how the Tsegereda SHG encouraged her. We also learned of Klorkenesh’s struggle with her daughter’s medical situation and how the SHG surrounds her with prayer and support. We too, continue to pray for Asnakech and Klorkenesh.

Another woman in the group was operating her own business by selling injera, a local type of bread. Klegayehu had been working as an entrepreneur for multiple years, but was unable to make enough profits to grow her business due to her credit situation. When she started her business, she had nothing and needed to take out a loan for seed money. This loan came from local lenders who used their position of financial power to extort her and take financial advantage of Klegayehu’s situation. Unable to escape the financial oppression of her lenders, she was stuck in a seemingly unsurpassable rut. She couldn’t close shop because, despite her predicament, the small profit she was making was still better than no profit at all. There were no other creditors available; and she was trapped. That’s when she got involved in the Self-Help Group. Since joining just a few years ago, her business has seen the exponential growth she knew it was capable of. Klegayehu is extremely grateful for the SHG, which acts similar to a community bank, giving her access to loans at a reasonable rate. The loan system through the SHG has helped her become self-sustainable.

The benefits of the SHG are more than simply financial. Another woman testified to the social impact of the SHG. It is common for people in poverty to feel like an outcast, not having any friends or a support group. For these women, joining the group means more than just having business partners, but also having friends that offer care and support in times of need. These women teach each other skills and are continually learning from one another. As they all continue to grow their own individual businesses, they learn from each other’s mistakes, discuss business strategies, and benefit from a larger business network. But even more than that, these women minister to each other. The Tsegereda SHG is comprised of all believers who continually build each other up and encourage one another in their faith. They operate their businesses with Christian principals and use their businesses to be witnesses to the community. The women pray together, thanking God for the ability to be productive and praising Him for blessing the work of their hands.

“You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” – Deuteronomy 8:17-18

 


The Rose: part 2

A Mother’s Hope for the Father’s Healing

Self-Help Groups: to bring forth holistic change so that they are empowered economically, socially, spiritually, politically, etc. Self-Help Groups, or SHGs are small groups of community members who work together to form an entrepreneurial team. While the SHG training focuses largely on economic empowerment through entrepreneurship, training also includes life skills. With a goal to bring about holistic change in more than just the financial realm, training is provided in the areas of sanitation and hygiene, childcare and reproductive health, social development, spiritual growth, and more. SHGs are equipped with a well-rounded arsenal of tools to empower themselves to live a balanced, fulfilled life.

Currently, there are 11 SHGs in the Hossana area, with expansion inevitably approaching. Last time, we highlighted the Tsegereda, or “Rose,” SHG. Tsegereda is made up of 13 women, each with their own story of how the SHG has positively impacted their lives. Last time, we got a glimpse into the life of Asnakech and learned of the heartbreak she endured and how the Tsegereda SHG encouraged her. We continue to pray for Asnakech.

We also pray for Klorkenesh and her family. Klorkenesh and her husband had a decent life, making adequate wages and had a bright future. What a blessing it was when Klorkenesh gave birth to her firstborn, a daughter. When her daughter was a toddler, the family moved to the Hosanna area with aspirations to enroll her daughter in an academically excellent school in order to give her the brightest future possible. Her husband had to leave his job and find work in the city, which meant taking a pay cut. Wages were still good, and a severance package was in the bank from the previous employer, but the financial security evaporated quickly when their daughter was rushed to the ER one afternoon. Klorkenesh learned that her daughter had heart problems and their savings account was soon depleted in the efforts to unclog her daughter’s artery. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of her daughter’s medical bills. Soon, the savings account was nonexistent; and the medical bills kept stacking up.

Klorkenesh was operating her own small business at the time, but was really struggling to generate meaningful income with all the attention required by her daughter’s condition. It was at this time that she joined the SHG. Being a part of a team helped give her life some balance, as her fellow members were there to support her in here time of need. As a result, her business began to generate more profit, which has, at the very least, kept her from becoming completely drowned in medical bills. For now, she is able to keep up with the ongoing medical expenses of her daughter’s treatment, though she still does have previous medical debt. Klorkenesh is grateful that the debt isn’t getting any higher and that her daughter’s condition is stabilizing for now. Unfortunately, Klorkenesh has only been able to afford treatment for her daughter’s symptoms, but is unable to afford the heart surgery that is required to treat the root cause. Our prayer for the family is that God would heal Klorkenesh’s daughter. We believe that He is able to heal her simply by commanding it to be, by using a donor or surgical volunteer to be His hands and feet by donating time, treasure, or talent to contribute to her healing, or He can continue to increase the profits from their business so that they might begin to pay off their medical loans and that the Lord would heal Klorkenesh’s daughter by providing a way for her to get the heart surgery she so desperately needs. It’s all in His hands and we trust in His will, and his good and perfect timing.

While Klorkenesh knows that the team at ATF is praying for her and her daughter, she also finds great emotional strength and spiritual encouragement from her fellow SHG members. The Tsegereda SHG is comprised of all Christian believers who continually build each other up and encourage one another in their faith. The women pray together, asking the Father of every good gift to continue to bless them so that they may be a blessing to others and bring Him glory.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17

 


The Rose: part 1

Rising Above a Broken Heart

Self-Help Groups: to bring forth holistic change so that they are empowered economically, socially, spiritually, politically, etc. Self-Help Groups, or SHGs are small groups of community members who work together to form an entrepreneurial team. While the SHG training focuses largely on economic empowerment through entrepreneurship, training also includes life skills. With a goal to bring about holistic change in more than just the financial realm, training is provided in the areas of sanitation and hygiene, childcare and reproductive health, social development, spiritual growth, and more. SHGs are equipped with a well-rounded arsenal of tools to empower themselves to live a balanced, fulfilled life.

Adams Thermal Foundation (ATF) believes that alleviating poverty cannot truly be achieved by dropping a pile of cash into an impoverished community. Sustainability is of utmost importance in changing a community. Sustainability is at the very core of ATF’s programs, integrated into every facet of the operation. An SHG is comprised of 10-20 struggling community members. These community members are most often widowed women who lack the basic skills required to sufficiently earn enough income to provide for their family. ATF provides skills training to the women, teaching them to sow, weave, cook, or otherwise create a marketable product. The group also receives financial and business training on how to run a business, how much profit to keep, how much to reinvest, how much to save, etc. ATF then provides the group with a small loan which acts as seed money to get the SHG’s business up and running. The group uses the loan to act on the training they’ve received by making products and selling them to the community for profit. The small profit earned truly has a great impact on the lives of the group members.

Currently, there are 11 SHGs in the Hossana area, with expansion inevitably approaching. One of those SHG's is Tsegereda, which means “Rose.” Tsegereda is made up of 13 women, each with their own story of how the SHG has positively impacted their lives. For example, Asnakech, whose name means “to rise above,” is a woman with an only child, a now adult son. When she was younger, her husband passed away and she moved to the city of Hossana in hope of finding meaningful work for herself, and a secondary school (high school) for her son. As secondary schools are not free, she poured all of her income into her son’s education, with hopes that the investment would pay for a family house once he got a decent job in light of his education. During this time, she lived in a homeless center, which was barely an upgrade from living in the slums. She worked hard and poured everything into her son’s education and future. What a joyous day it was when her son graduated secondary school and took the university admissions test! That joy turned to mourning when, one day, she returned to the shelter where a letter was waiting for her, a letter from her son. With tears in her eyes, she read her son’s handwriting, informing her that he had failed the admissions exam, had lost hope for the future, and would not be returning home. Heartbroken, she too lost hope. Her only son had run away, leaving her to wonder whether he was even alive. In spite of her broken heart, she found hope when a friend invited her to a self-help group. The group welcomed her as a member and she received business training. Since joining the group just a few years ago, she has gone from being completely homeless, not even knowing where her next meal would come from, to being able to take out a small loan to have her own small house. The profits from her work within the SHG have given her hope, knowing that she is self-sustainable and able to take care of her own basic needs. While her heart still longs for her son after many years, she finds peace knowing that God gave her the ability to be productive; and she takes comfort in knowing that He is taking care of her through blessing her business efforts. We ask that you would join us here at ATF in praising God for His work in Asnakech’s life and pray that He would one day restore the relationship with her son.

The SHG program aims to enable the community financially, but also to empower the community spiritually. The Tsegereda SHG is comprised of all Christian believers who continually build each other up and encourage one another in their faith. They operate their businesses with Godly principals and use their businesses to be witnesses to the community. The women pray together, thanking God for the ability He has granted them and for the opportunities He has bestowed upon them.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, … but encouraging one another.” – Hebrews 10:23-25

 


Hope for the Homeless

Security Beyond Shelter

Abebech and Ayele, a married couple, have gone through many hardships throughout their marriage. In their first year of marriage, the couple was forced to relocate across the country on government orders as government seized their property. The new region had an even more tyrannical local government, who would take crops, shelter, and taxes at will, with no rhyme or reason. For a decade, the growing family endured the oppression, until finally permission was granted to leave the area in exchange for donating the small plot of land to a government official’s family. Abebech and Ayele relocated to Hosanna 23 years ago. Abebech gave birth to eight total kids along her journey, and Ayele was able to provide a comfortable life for the family of ten. With food on the table, roof over their heads, and reliable employment, the family was doing well for themselves considering everything that they had been through.
Everything changed five years ago when Ayele became ill with Meningitis. Because of the inaccessibility of medicine, coupled with the expense of treatment, Abebech’s husband lost the fight to Meningitis and died. Life has been anything but comfortable ever since with Abebech left to raise her eight children alone. As Abebech could no longer afford adequate housing, she had to seek other housing options. Abebech met a landowner who was leaving the area for an undisclosed period of time. In mutual agreement, the landowner permitted Abebech to live in the house with her family in exchange for the “housesitting” services until the landowner returned. Abebech has found housing in this manner ever since. The houses are usually one-room houses with dirt floors and mud walls. The largest discomfort, even beyond sleeping such a large family in a single room, is never knowing when the landowner will return. Without any advanced warning, the landowner can come back to his house and move in immediately, leaving Abebech homeless.
Abebech’s housing situation isn’t the biggest burden weighing on the mother’s heart. After her husband died and the family struggled to make ends meet, two of her children ran away. Her daughter, Birhanesh, ran away when she was thirteen years old. Birhanesh’s brother, Gezahegn, ran away a year later, also at the age of thirteen. With the family struggling to put food on the table, the teenagers left home in attempt to find work, income, and food. Thankfully, Abebech knows that Birhanesh is alive and is working in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. Birhanesh refuses to come home, but will call her family on occasion. Abebech has tried to inquire what Birhanesh, now eighteen years old, does for work, but Birhanesh has always refused to answer. As prostitution is legal in Ethiopia, and very prominent in Addis Ababa, Abebech fears the worst. Abebech prays for her daughter daily, praying that she would return home, praying for her daughter’s safety, and praying for Birhanesh’s faith, that she would come to know the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. In regards to her other missing child, Abebech has had no contact with Gezahegn since he left home. Not knowing whether he is dead or alive brings the loving mother to tears, leaving her with only one remedy: prayer.
Despite the sorrow caused by her two missing children, Abebech finds joy in the fact that two of her kids are currently at Adams Thermal Academy (ATA) in Hosanna. Knowing that those two children are receiving a first-class education, a nutritious lunch each day, school supplies, and a uniform, brings some peace to Abebech. With two of her children at ATA, two who ventured out on their own, and the two oldest having jobs, her two youngest children get a better quality of life, as Abebech is able to generate enough income from odd jobs to provide sufficient food for them to have a meal each day. Her two youngest children attend a nearby public school, but Abebech is unable to pay for school supplies, even with the support of her older sons’ incomes. Thankfully, a relative lives in the area and has compassion on the kids, paying for their school uniform and supplies until Abebech can get on her feet again.
Abebech gives all the glory to God. She credits Him with taking care of her family when they were in need. When her children ran away and it was the family’s darkest hour, the Lord opened a door and blessed her son with an ATA sponsorship. At that same time, God used her relative to be His hands and feet. Both of these sponsors acknowledge that they acted because of God’s grace and calling. Abebech has seen God’s provision and became a believer as a result, dedicating her efforts to spreading the joyous news of Jesus Christ to her children. The six children still in frequent communication with Abebech have all become believers. Abebech’s oldest, Temesgen, married a Christian woman and now has a young daughter of his own. Grandma Abebech has peace and joy, despite still not having financial security. She works hard to earn the little income she does, but ultimately trusts God to guide her paths and be her Provider. She praises Him for guiding her through the valley of darkness and into the light, for lifting her out of the mud and giving her a foundation to stand upon. Praise be to God!

“I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.” – Psalm 40:1-3. 

 


Ripples of Kindness

A Teacher’s Perspective on the Impact of Compassion

Growing up, Abreham Fikre lived in rural Ethiopia where there was no school bus. That meant walking three hours to school each morning only to walk the same three hour path back home. Despite spending just as much time commuting to class as he did actually in class, Abreham understood the value of receiving an education. Education was his ticket out of poverty. Education was the route he would take to be able to provide for his current family, and his future family. Abreham’s family was poor, but he had enough to at least be able to afford shoes, something many of his peers could not afford. One afternoon, two hours into his daily trek from school, the sole of his shoe gave loose, breaking at the seams. Stripping some bark off of a tree along the path, he temporarily tied his sole back on. He had a choice to make; only having enough crops for a meal five days each week, his family couldn’t afford to repair his shoe, much less buy new shoes. Abreham made a choice to sacrifice three meals that week, taking his portion of the crops and selling them for a small amount of cash. On a completely empty stomach, he walked to the village with hopes of finding a tailor to fix his shoe before school started, only to learn upon arrival that the cost was slightly greater than the cash he carried. Devastated, he went to school, stuck in a distracted state of melancholy for the entire day. Noticing his inattentiveness and ill-complexion, Abreham’s teacher approached him after class to inquire about what was going on. When Abreham explained his situation, his teacher had compassion on him. Together, they walked back to the tailor and his teacher covered the amount that Abreham was short. With restored shoes and restored hope, Abreham returned home with joy in his heart, even if he had nothing in his stomach. It was during this walk home that a passion was born in him to aspire to become a teacher. Abreham now works as an elementary math teacher at the Adams Thermal Academy (ATA) in Ottoro, a rural Ethiopian village.

Abreham’s childhood experience gives him continual compassion for his students, encouraging him to go above and beyond in the same manner that his own teacher did for him many years ago. Abreham still has to walk quite a distance to school each day even now that he is a teacher. No longer three hours each way, but a forty minute walk - enough to observe many things during the commute. One afternoon, about six years ago, Abreham was on his walk home from the Academy when he noticed an ATA student on the side of the road. It wasn’t a student he had taught directly in his classroom, but that didn’t stop his compassion from compelling him to be a Good Samaritan. Stopping to see if he could be of any assistance, he learned that the child was ill and in need of medical attention. Despite his meek salary as a teacher, he assisted the sick middle-schooler to the local clinic and paid the doctor out of his own pocket. Years later, while attending ATA’s graduation ceremony, a new graduate approached Abreham and expressed her gratitude for his act of sacrificial compassion. This is just one of the many examples which demonstrate ATA’s teacher’s dedication to their students. Abreham’s life verse is Job 42:2, which comforts him as it reads, “I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” Abreham is active in his local church and enjoys singing in the church choir on Sundays. He views his time on Earth as an opportunity to share God’s love to others. Along with a group from his church, he goes out on short-term missions trips once per month. A small benevolent offering is taken before they leave and is used to be a blessing unto others as they introduce them to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Abreham praises God for international donors who answer the call of the great commission.

Abreham is extremely grateful to child sponsors, saying that it was easy to tell which children had individual sponsors. The biggest distinguishing factors are seen in both academics and in character. The children who have individual sponsors are more disciplined, exemplifying exceptional leadership qualities, and are the most respectful. Abreham credits this to God, because he knows that a sponsor is praying specifically for their sponsor child and communicating with them. It is our goal at ATF to provide each child with their own compassionate sponsor. We know that God is at work and believe in His plan, knowing that it will succeed and not be thwarted! Praise be to God!

“I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” – Job 42:2

 


The Search for the Vulnerable

Enrolling Children with the Greatest Need

Not every student who wants to go to school at Adams Thermal Academy (ATA) is granted their wish. ATA seeks out a very specific student body, and we're very intentional about the enrollment process. ATA desires to give students with the most need in the community a chance to get an education - something that they would not otherwise have due to their life circumstances. Yet, compared to most of the world’s standards, or at least the Western world’s standards, nearly every child in the community is considered impoverished. With tens-of-thousands of children in the area, how do the academies choose the hundred or so that get admitted?


Adams Thermal Foundation’s (ATF) mission statement is to “strive to alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable. ATA operates with that statement in mind and is committed to finding the students who are the most vulnerable. To do that, we have partnered with the local government to help find these students. The smallest unit of the Ethiopian government is called the Kabela (pronounced: Ka-bel-ay). The Kabela is even smaller than city government or county work, and are in charge of small sections of land and people within the area. The purpose of the Kabela is to know the conditions of the people within their area. Conditions include: financials, health status, marital status, children, etc. The Kabela is extremely watchful in keeping an eye on the local demographic, which provides the larger government structures a detailed picture of what areas are struggling the most. Area churches often assist the Kabela by notifying them when the church identifies a struggling family. The Kabela is a wonderful partner to have in the enrollment process because they know their people, and their people’s needs. They know who is in extreme poverty, who is an orphan, whose parents are living with AIDS, etc. The Kabela knows which children are the most vulnerable.


The first step in the enrollment process is finding the students. While working together with the Kabela, ATA reviews letters and recommendations submitted by either the Kabela, local area churches, or received directly from community members. After the letters or recommendations are received, they are presented before an admissions committee. The committee is made up of a wide variety of people, with members representing the Kabela, others representing the Department of Education, the Department of Health, the ATF Headquarters, and local ATA staff and administration. The committee reviews the documents and turns them into formal applications, which detail the family’s situation. The application records how many living parents the child has, the child’s living condition, the child’s health status, the family’s health, how many meals per week is the child currently receiving, and the monthly income of the family. This gives the committee a general sense of which children have the most need out of all the applicants.


After the applications are complete and the academy has assigned a number of students to be accepted into each grade, the committee physically visits each home of the potential applicants, starting with those whose applications expressed the greatest need. The home visits ensure that the perception given in the applications truly matches the reality of the child’s situation. The committee spends time with each family at the family’s home and also interviews the neighboring community to verify that the family is being honest with their account of their home life. After all the home visits are complete and the information is verified, the data is assessed and prioritized. Data is then analyzed and given weight. The following is a breakdown of the current point system used to evaluate the need of a student:

 Full orphan (No parents)  50
 Half orphan (single parent)  25
 Living in poverty*  10
 Guardian's health  10
 Child's health  5
* Living in poverty is only weighted with 10 points because nearly all applicants live in poverty. Very few exceptions are made to that rule.


The weighted numbers are added up to match the child’s situation. For example, a healthy child who is an impoverished (10) orphan (50), living with their widowed grandmother, who is extremely ill herself (10), would receive a total weight number of 70. The data is then sorted by weight, with children having the largest total number at the top. ATA now has a prioritized list of students who are truly vulnerable, whose condition has been verified. ATA sends out acceptance letters to the children, starting at the top of the list, working their way down to as many students per grade as permitted. Admission is based on a child’s situation, and nothing more. ATA does not discriminate on the basis of faith, belief or tribal affiliation. The Academies are available to any child who is among the most vulnerable in their community.


In conclusion, ATF’s mission to serve the most vulnerable children is taken very seriously. Each child is vetted and truly does live in an extremely tough environment. ATF’s commitment to helping the poor is coupled with the passion to bring eternal life to the community. In this way, we are seeking justice for the poor with a desire to bring both physical and eternal life. 

“Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” –Proverbs 11:4
“The righteous care about justice for the poor.” –Proverbs 29:7 


Teach a Man to Fish

Empowering a Community through Entrepreneurship

“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Sustainability is of utmost importance in changing a community. Sustainability is at the very core of Adams Thermal Foundation (ATF) programs, integrated into every facet of the operation. This is especially true in ATF’s Self-Help Group (SHG) program.

A SHG is comprised of 10-20 struggling community members. These community members are most often widowed women who lack the basic skills required to sufficiently earn enough income to provide for their family. ATF provides skills training to the women, teaching them to sew, weave, cook, or otherwise create a marketable product. The group also receives financial and business training on how to run a business, how much profit to keep, how much to reinvest, how much to save, etc. ATF then provides the group with a small loan of, on average, $200, which acts as seed money to get the SHG’s business up and running. The group uses the loan to act on the training they’ve received by making products and selling them to the community for profit.

As last reported in 2014 by the World Bank, Ethiopia’s Gross Domestic Product per capita was $316 (USD). While the cost of goods (not including housing or labor) being roughly the same as it is stateside, the average person in Ethiopia makes less than $1 per day! This number is significantly lower in the regions where Adams Thermal Foundation (ATF) is operating. With ATF targeting the poorest of the poor, it is not uncommon for a family of five or six to be making $1

While the SHG training focuses largely on economic empowerment through entrepreneurship, training also includes life skills. The goal is to bring about holistic change in more than just the financial realm as life training is provided in the areas of sanitation and hygiene, childcare and reproductive health, social development, spiritual growth, and more.

The model does not take families from rags to riches overnight, but is a sustainable model that will continue to run long after ATF’s involvement. ATF has an administrative staff to oversee the SHGs, monitor the finances, help with business decisions, and have a system of accountability, but the goal of the program is to empower the members to be completely self-sustainable for decades to come.

Right now, there are 162 SHG members, comprising 11 Self-Help Groups. These numbers will inevitably grow as the community sees the positive impact the program is implementing. Current SHGs are interested in collaborating with other SHGs with hopes of combining a portion of their capital so that they could have a permanent market space to sell their goods. Most products are sold out of a residence and not in a commercial market setting.

Self-Help Groups have a very good foundation, coupled with the production and financial skills to mature as a business and lift themselves out of poverty. As the program continues to demonstrate success and impact the community, there is little doubt that more struggling yet ambitious citizens of the community will have interest in joining or starting a group of their own.

Adams Thermal Foundation celebrates the opportunity to reach out through the business world to show Christ’s love not only “with words or speech, but in actions and in truth.”

“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need, but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:17-18.


Digging in the Dirt

Hosanna High School Project Underway

It brings us great joy to announce that the high school on the Adams Thermal Academy (ATA) in Hosanna campus has begun! A groundbreaking ceremony has taken place and construction began shortly after. Thank you so much for your love and support for God's children in Ethiopia! It is our prayer that this new building will bring glory to God by equipping the students with the knowledge, skills, and passion necessary to achieve excellence in every facet of their lives.
Evidence of God's blessings shows in many areas of the project, the most recognizable being the acquisition of the land itself. The land adjacent to the ATA in Hosanna was owned by the government, who was receiving much pressure and high priced offers for the land by local developers. We submitted a bid for the land, requesting that the government freely donate the land, in exchange for a promise to build a modern high school on the ground. The local government passed on the opportunity to make a profit on the land, opting to give us the land without any financial compensation. God is good!

The building itself will be constructed in two phases, each representing half of the overall project. Phase one is nearly 80% funded; and construction has begun. This phase includes ten classrooms, a state-of-the-art science lab, and a teachers lounge equipped for maximizing efficiency during meeting and planning sessions. Students will enjoy the new facility within a year, as phase one is scheduled to be completed within that time. The community is excited to have a new high school as the school will benefit the larger community in addition to the children enrolled at the Academy. Nearly all of the labor required to build the school is coming from the local community, providing numerous jobs to a community where unemployment is the norm.

The addition of the high school building not only provides an opportunity for excellence to existing students, but permits the Academy to enroll a larger number of students. This increase in student body capacity means less children within the community going hungry or dying from trivial illness due to lack of basic medication. It also means more students graduating with a substantially above average preparedness for university or tech training.
In the Bible, the book of Proverbs says, "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." Our desire at Adams Thermal Foundation is to let God use us for His purpose, according to His plan. We seek to walk with Him, neither getting ahead of Him nor falling behind. When we seek God's timing, we see Him open doors, present opportunities, and bless our efforts. Once again, we have seen His blessings poured out upon the work of His servants.
Praise the Lord for blessing the project! May all the glory and honor be unto Him! We are excited for the completion of phase one and are also excited about the proposed phase two, which would add an additional ten classrooms, a large library, and modern computer labs. If you would like to participate in the project, please contact us at info@adamsthermalfoundation.org.


Just Like Family

Employees Support Co-Workers in Need

With hundreds of employees working three shifts, it can be difficult to get acquainted, especially in a busy manufacturing environment. Still employees at Adams Thermal Systems recently pulled together like family to support co-workers who were facing severe medical challenges. Two employees have struggled with non-work related medical conditions which kept them out-of-work indefinitely. Another faced the fear and uncertainty of a teenage daughter going through high-risk brain surgery. A lengthy recovery process from the surgery would also require time off from work and a loss of income.

So employees gathered together and pooled their resources - some giving the cash in their pockets and others committing portions of their future paychecks. Five-gallon buckets were placed in the company lunch room to collect the donations and employees placed their gifts in plain white envelopes and dropped them in the buckets. A large majority of the employees at Adams Thermal Systems responded to the needs of their co-workers, giving what they could. In the end, their generosity resulted in a gift of more than $5,000, which was matched by the company for a total of $11,500!

News of the fund-raising result traveled quickly throughout the manufacturing plant as workers celebrated the satisfaction of giving to their three co-workers in need. This was not the first time that Adams Thermal System employees came to the aid of their own. Previous fund-raisers have resulted in thousands of dollars being given to employees who lost their home due to fire or for a family member struggling with cancer. The slogan, "We Share Because ATS Cares" has become a common theme for these campaigns of generosity within the walls of Adams Thermal Systems (ATS) as employees continue to take pride in the products they produce as well as the people they serve. Once again, a big "THANK YOU" goes out to the employee family of Adams Thermal Systems for their shining example of charity and goodwill. 


Habitat for Humanity

Another Home for Another Family

Adams Thermal Completes Habitat House

Some of our supporters have asked, does Adams Thermal Foundation do anything to help people locally? The answer is "YES". Habitat for Humanity is just one example of the work we do locally. Our mission is to "alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable". This includes at-risk children in Ethiopia and single-mothers in our own hometown.

If you sponsor one of our kids in Ethiopia, you may be wondering if any of your support goes to these local projects. The answer is "NO". In fact, 100% of child sponsorship support goes to the child and their family in Ethiopia. Our support of local organizations helping the "most vulnerable" is completely separate from our schools in Ethiopia.

We seek to bless people in the name of Jesus locally, nationally and internationally. If you have any questions about Adams Thermal Foundation and our outreach, please don't hesitate to contact us at info@adamsthermalfoundation.org or call 877-678-1099!

Congratulations on your new home, Amber!


From Poverty to Possibilities

From Poverty to Possibilities

 In Ethiopia, education can rescue a child from a lifetime of poverty. In the Hadiya Zone on the western side of the Ethiopian Rift Valley, the Adams Thermal Foundation is helping to raise up 900 children from bitter poverty into hopeful new possibilities through two schools located in the communities of Hosanna and Ottoro.

In the Hadiya Zone, located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional (SNNPR) State of Ethiopia, about 13% of the population is illiterate and only 1 in 3 have attended elementary school. One in four people have a post grade 12 education and only 2.1% of those have a college degree. Public education is reserved for the privileged and is often compromised by half-day schedules, crowded classrooms and teacher shortages.

The Children's Home Society Schools in Hosanna and Ottoro include grades 1 through 8 and enroll only the poorest of the poor who would not otherwise have receive any formal education. These grateful students attend a full day of classes taught by committed teachers. In addition, they receive uniforms and a daily meal to enhance their growth, health and learning. Many student families have one or both parents missing from the household, leaving their futures in the hands of siblings or strangers.

Students at the Children's Home Society schools are thriving, consistently testing above their peers in all subjects. In addition, a specialized accelerated learning program brings students who started school late up to speed with other students of their age.

In the spring of 2013, the news came that these schools would have to close unless a partner could be found to help finance the operations. Adams Thermal Foundation answered the call and is committed to supporting the growth of educational opportunities for the poorest of the poor in the Hadiya Zone.

To learn more about sponsoring a student, CLICK HERE, or contact our Development office at 877-678-1099 ext. 104 or via email at tanderson@adamsthermalfoundation.org


A Parent's Dream

A Parent's DreamWhat are your hopes and dreams for your children? Ask the question of any mom or dad, and you'll likely get the same response 9 out of 10 times. We want our kids to have it better than we did. And one of the sacrifices we make is to provide them with the best education possible. At Adams Thermal Systems, employees have the opportunity to receive help with not only their own education, but also with the education of their children.

With the help of Adams Thermal Foundation, the company recently awarded $30,000 in scholarships to Adams Thermal employees and their students during a ceremony in Canton. The only requirement for employees is that they be employed with Adams Thermal for at least one year. Beyond that, students are chosen from a variety of post-secondary programs based upon their academic goals, their performance and their financial need.

Larry Bone, a machinist at Adams Thermal, wanted to help his 30-year-old son make a career change, so he applied for and won a scholarship. Initially, Larry didn't consider the scholarships because his children are fully grown. "Mike works full time, is married and has two grade-school children as well as a working wife, so the hope of a career change seemed very distant" said Bone. "The cost of the degree has been a struggle, so this scholarship will greatly ease the financial burden on his family," added Bone.


A Home for the Holidays

A Home for the HolidaysIt was just eight days before Christmas and brothers Kread and Trekin Serck joined their mom, Jackie in their unfurnished living room for the dedication ceremony of their new home in Canton, SD. There were people everywhere from Habitat for Humanity, from Adams Thermal Systems and from the local community. It was a lot to take in for a couple of little boys, but the ceremony wasn't particularly exciting . . . until they heard a knock at the door. How confusing!

This was their brand new home, made possible through Adams Thermal Foundation in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity. But the ceremony had already begun. This was the first day that Kread and Trekin and mom could call this house their "home". But nobody else knew that this was their house yet - nobody except for one other person.

There were so many people in their living room for the ceremony that some had to stand up. And some were standing right next to the door. So as soon as they heard the knock at the door, they opened it right up. And in walked none other than SANTA CLAUS!

This was no shopping mall Santa Claus. He was the real deal with long white hair and beard and red suit and bells; "the genuine article for sure" thought Kread and Trekin. Neither one of the brothers could believe it. They kept staring at Santa and then looking to mom and then back at Santa, trying to figure it all out. When it finally sunk in, there was nothing left to do except to give Santa Claus a great big hug - as big a hug as any 8-year-old boy can hope to give a rather sizeable, jolly old elf.


Refiner's Fire

Refiner's FireFamily members traveled from all over to the rented house in Inwood, Iowa for a big Christmas celebration just a few weeks ago. Now every trace of that celebration was gone. It was 2:00 PM on January 25th and Theresa Zordel began her shift at Adams Thermal Systems in Canton, SD. The call from Theresa's step-daughter came at 4:00 PM with the type of news that people hope and pray they'll never have to hear - their home was on fire.

Theresa is the type of person that always has a plan. She's a problem-solver and people come to her for advice. But for the first time EVER, she didn't know what to do or how to act. "It's the hardest thing I've ever been through," says Theresa. "I left for 2 hours and then everything was gone".

When Theresa arrived at what had been their home for the past two years, the fire was under control. The dog had been rescued and the structure of the house was salvaged. But everything in the home was destroyed. An electrical outlet had ignited a piece of furniture. Theresa's husband and step-daughter weren't at home. But a volunteer firefighter happened to be driving by and saw the flames in the window. There was no insurance. So truly, everything was GONE!