Introducing Selamawit


My name is Selamawit, and I teach in Hossana Adams Thermal Academy. I teach the Amharic language to several different classes. I have been teaching for 6 years. I graduated from Medawelabo University with a Bachelor's degree in Amharic language and Literature.


In this relation, I would like to mention, the teacher whom I consider my role model. Her name is Hamame Deneke. She was an English teacher in Wachamo Preparatory School in Hossana. The love she had for the students, her commitment to deliver the content, her humbleness and motherly attitude was unforgettable.


What inspired me to join Adams thermal Academy was the convenience of the school compound compared to other private schools, the good teaching - learning environment and the sympathy for the students.


I am a Christian and my faith has positively influenced my career. It has helped me to have compassion to the children and love them. It has also helped me to advise them with the word of God.


I noticed a 10th grade student by the name Almnesh Jemal who required some additional support. Consequently I gave her some support to enable her to follow up her education without any pressure.


In the future, I would like to upgrade my level of education from Bachelor's to Master's Degree.


I am married and have a son. We got married in 2016. It has now been 2 years. Ketsebaot Nuramo is the name of my son. God willing, I would like my son to be a doctor, and for my husband to further study for his PhD which he longs to do. I hope that one day, with the help of God, we will start a humanitarian organization that supports the needy called by the name of my family. Currently, I am attending a fashion design class, and I enjoy designing clothes in my spare time.


My favorite verse is: Proverbs 10:27

"The fear of the Lord adds length to life but the years of the wicked are cut short."(NIV)



Introducing Meseret

Tell us a little about yourself and your teaching career.

I teach in Adams Thermal Academy- Hossana. I teach Hadiyisa, which is the local language, to a number of different grade levels.  I have been teaching for the last 13 years; for 5 consecutive years in public schools and the following 8 consecutive years in Adams Thermal Academy-Hossana.

Did you have a favorite teacher when you were in school? Please tell us about them and why they were your favorite.

When I was attending Wachemo comprehensive Preparatory school, I had a Chemistry teacher whom I liked very much. His name was Matewos. The reason behind was, the way he presented the subject matter and the way he handles students with love.

What inspired you to become a teacher? Why did you select this as a career?

What inspired me to be a teacher was that a teacher is a person who always learns and that this career, more than any other career, allows a teacher to develop, equip and raise a person with knowledge.

What training did you have to become a teacher? What degrees have you earned?

I have taken a pedagogical training and was awarded a certificate, diploma and bachelor's degree.

Why do you enjoy teaching at adams thermal academy?

I enjoy teaching in Adams Thermal Academy because the school has made the environment convenient for the teaching – learning process. In addition, as the students have many problems due to their background, supporting them in various ways like advising, putting them in prayer goes with my life's objective. I praise God for this opportunity.

How does your faith affect your teaching?

My faith has a positive influence in my teaching activity in that it has helped me to do it with the fear of God and with respect to the God given duty.

Do you have a story to share about a student you have impacted? A student who has been positively impacted by your efforts?

There was a boy named Eyasu, he had nowhere to go as he had no relatives. He used to shine shoes and stayed the nights in the compound of a Coptic church. Later, he joined Adams Thermal Academy and attended grades 9th and 10th. However, he couldn't pass the grade ten National Exam and returned to his shoe shining. I then sought him out and after locating him, I encouraged him to attend a vocational college extension program while working his shoe shining in the daytime. I covered his tuition fee and provided other supports. He is currently enrolled in a vocational program for construction.

What are your future plans for your teaching career? What do you hope to accomplish?

In the future, I want to study linguistics.

Please tell us about your home life. Are you married? Do you have children? What are your hopes and dreams for your family? What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

I was married and have 3 children however in 2017 an unexpected incident occurred in my life. My husband passed away. I am now a single mother. I have a son and two daughters. God willing, I want my oldest son to be a businessman who runs a company which imports and exports. His name is Israel. The middle daughter, Bersabeh, wants to be a doctor and the youngest one to be a researcher. Outside work, I enjoy being with my children and reading books.

Do you have a favorite bible story or verse?

My favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 1:33:

"...but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm." (NIV)



Water Crisis in Ottoro - Part 2

The school which is now Adams Thermal Academy Ottoro was opened in 2007 with a water source in place and some electrification. Having these resources was new to the community and the regular maintenance necessary to keep them operational fell behind. Eventually, the water valves and other system apparatus corroded and failed, leaving the school with no water for sanitation, consumption or any kind of a food program.

Initially, the Adams Thermal Foundation vision for the school in Ottoro was to add a grade-level every year until students could ultimately graduate high school. In Ethiopia, high school graduates with satisfactory academic performance can attend university or trade school for free. So the strategy was to grow from the current K-8th grade to high school as quickly as possible. But when Adams Thermal staff started to look at photos of the students in Ottoro, priorities changed.

Photos of students were taken for the new online child sponsorship application launched in 2014. Those photos displayed a marked difference between children in Hosanna and those in Ottoro. The students in Ottoro consistently showed signs of malnutrition and disease. In addition, teachers reported students fainting in class, falling asleep and other behavior detrimental to learning. So priorities for the school changed immediately. Plans were put in place to develop a meal program like the one in Hosanna and to find reliable water sources for the long-term.

Ottoro is rural and isolated with virtually no infrastructure. Setting up a food and water program presents many more challenges than operating in Hosanna, a city of approximately 80,000 people. Pursuit of a water solution must include the infrastructure that is lacking in rural areas. This increases the scale, timeline and cost of the project. Children's Home Society of St. Paul, MN - the organization that founded the school in Ottoro - had recently completed a gravity-fed water system in nearby Mudula just prior to Adams Thermal Foundation taking over the school in Ottoro. The Mudula system capped a spring at higher elevation and then allowed gravity and water pressure from a reservoir to distribute water down the mountain to Mudula. Other communities near the pipeline also benefited from the water through distribution points along the way. The success of the Mudula water system became the model for the water solution in Ottoro.

Adams Thermal Foundation retained a water engineer and, working in conjunction with local government officials, began the search for a higher elevation spring source that could serve the school and local community for the long-term. The water team identified a source 4.6 kilometers away from the school at an altitude of 9,065 feet above sea level. The spring had a capacity of 1.4 liters per second and could easily fill most of a 50,000 liter reservoir overnight. Another smaller source with a capacity of 0.4 liters per second was located nearby. So negotiations began with local government and zone officials to cap both springs and distribute the water down the mountain with a gravity-fed distribution system. There were two primary issues to negotiate. First, the rights to cap the springs and use the water. The second issue was to establish ownership, administration and maintenance responsibilities so that the system would be kept in good working order. Agreements were made with both the Ottoro community, called the Duna woreda (district) and the neighboring Tembaro community, called the Bada woreda.

Vital to the success of the water project would be the contribution of labor by members of the community. This labor would serve as the only investment the local community could offer. However, it also ensured maximum engagement and ownership by the community so that the long-term viability of the water system could be guaranteed. The community also provided some of the building materials that could be harvested nearby. Men and women, young and old, brought their farming hand-tools and began digging a trench for the water pipeline all the way up the mountain. Those who could not work came to offer encouragement and prayers for the laborers. No roads could access the water points or sources so all the supplies including sand, rock, cement, rebar, pipe, valves and fittings had to be walked up the mountain on donkeys and horses.

When the water is officially turned on in December of 2018, seven (7) villages comprised of 550 households and an estimated 3,300 users will receive fresh, clean water daily through local distribution points just minutes away from their homes. While Adams Thermal Academy Ottoro is currently drawing water from a short-term, low-capacity source, the school will tap into the end of the new pipeline. The 560 students at the Academy will finally enjoy the permanent benefits of good sanitation, clean hands and faces, and pure water to drink as they grow and learn. Best of all, children will be in school rather than fetching water several hours each day for their families.


Water Crisis in Ottoro – Part 1

Like many African countries, parts of Ethiopia face severe water shortages, poor sanitation, and lack of access to clean water. A study conducted by concluded that only “42% of the population has access to a clean water supply” and only “11% of that number has access to adequate sanitation services”. In rural parts of the country, these figures are even lower, resulting in health problems in the villagers as well as their animals.

Drought over the last 20+ years has led to wells, streams, ponds and lakes drying up or becoming very shallow. Many people living outside of the cities collect water from these sources which, in their depleted state, are often contaminated with animal and human waste, worms and disease. During times of drought, disease runs rampant through small villages and towns. Frequently there is not enough water for people to bathe which leads to infections and sickness in children. Water borne illnesses, such as cholera and diarrhea, are the leading cause of death in children under five in Ethiopia.

Children, and especially girls, are often charged with collecting water for their families each day, which often takes three hours or more to complete. The water sources are rarely conveniently located so the children are required to haul empty jugs on foot or by donkey cart to the water, fill them up and haul them back, often traveling several miles in the process. In many cases the children spend so much time collecting water that they are unable to attend school.

In 2013, when Adams Thermal Foundation (ATF) initially took over the operation of the school in Ottoro, they discovered the spring-sourced, gravity-fed system that had supplied water to the school was dried up and the infrastructure degraded.  This marked the beginning of the Ottoro Water Project. A temporary solution was put in place when an alternative active spring was located and the infrastructure repaired. While water was once again flowing to the school, the supply was limited and would need to be upgraded further and stabilized.

To be continued…


From a Life "At-Risk" to Graduation

For the FIRST TIME E-V-E-R, we have 12th-graders at Adams Thermal Academy in Hosanna, Ethiopia. In just a few months, these students will become high school GRADUATES! These are lives that have been redeemed and forever changed. These young people are breaking out of the poverty cycle and they are university-bound in the fall of 2019!

Among the world-wide population of children helped through sponsorship programs, it can be difficult to find the success stories. Every sponsor hopes that they've permanently impacted a life for the better. But as children grow up and drift out of these vital programs, sponsors are often left to hope and wonder about the significance of their charity, prayers and support.

Mindful of this reality, we celebrate the achievement of our senior class at Hosanna. Children initially qualify to enroll in Adams Thermal Academy because they're orphaned, HIV-positive or struggling under the weight of severe poverty. But now, 40 lives are crossing over from one segment of society to another. No longer will they be considered "at-risk" children. Rather, most of these will be the first in their family to graduate high school and continue on to post-secondary studies.

High school graduates in Ethiopia have the opportunity to attend university tuition-free if their academic performance hits benchmarks determined by the government. Every single 12th-grader at Adams Thermal Academy Hosanna has earned the right to enroll in university studies based upon their strong academic achievement. Needless to say, these kids are EXCITED! They can see their future. Despair that was once prevalent in their lives has been replaced by hope and confidence.

When Adams Thermal Systems first established a non-profit in 2013 to operate two schools in Ethiopia, one of the primary goals was to add a grade to the program every year until every child had the opportunity to go from kindergarten to grade 12 on the same campus and in the same wholistic, Christ-centered program. The 40 students in the 2019 graduating class at Hosanna represent our first realization of this goal.

What a privilege we've been given to extend a hand of friendship and love to the "poorest of the poor". And to see them as God sees them, a precious treasure worthy of our highest respect and the very best we have to offer. Still, we ought to consider it an even higher honor when we get to witness these young people taking ownership of their true identity - leaving behind the stigma of poverty and embracing a new life full of God-given worth and potential.

We celebrate our new 12th-graders and challenge them to passionately take hold of the opportunity provided to them by our committed staff, our faithful sponsors and compassionate donors. Thanks be to God for his never-ending grace and mercy!

First-World VBS Challenges

A Comparison to Vacation Bible School in Rural Ethiopia

Every summer, churches all around the country hang up colorful signs letting the neighborhood know that Vacation Bible School is coming up. Publishers of religious curriculum crank out new creative themes every year to capture the attention of parents and grandparents seeking to fill-up the idle days of perpetually-bored kiddos. Church coordinators do their best to wrangle up enough volunteers, baked goods and popsicle sticks to fill up a four-day program filled with the right balance of activities and lessons. Some churches do it better than others. But everyone seems to be competing for the ultimate neighborhood VBS experience.

This past July (2018) a team of three staff from Adams Thermal Foundation (ATF) set out to discover what VBS would be like if offered in southern Ethiopia. In the town of Hosanna, in the middle of the rainy season, the first Vacation Bible School at Adams Thermal Academy was launched on a Monday morning for slightly more than 300 local children. Every day the attendance grew and by the end of the week, 650 children from kindergarten to high-school age were taking part in this inaugural event. For the ATF team from the US it became abundantly clear that VBS is kind-of-a-big-deal in Hosanna, Ethiopia.

While most church-going people understand what VBS is like here in the United States, our staff discovered many similarities and many differences while conducting VBS in Ethiopia. Here's just a few of the comparisons:

THEMES - In the US, we have themes that revolve around sports or outer-space or dinosaurs to keep the kids engaged. In Ethiopia, we didn't really have a theme except to convey the message that God created our world and that he loves each and every one of us. The classrooms were all packed full! Sometimes the communication was verbal, via translators. Often, we were building relationships with attention, smiles and hugs.

INVITATIONS - In the US, churches typically put an announcement on the screen or in the bulletin and then canvas the neighborhood with door-hangers. In Ethiopia, the word spread by word-of-mouth and every day more kids showed up than the day before. Even though there are plenty of churches in Hosanna, VBS is not an opportunity that happens very often.

VOLUNTEERS - This always seems to be a challenge wherever VBS is held. In Hosanna, we had 3 staff from the US, 5 volunteers from the capital of Addis Ababa and roughly 6-8 other Academy staff that helped out during the week. While this doesn't seem like the right ratio of adults for 650 kids, things never really got out of control. The children wanted to be there and patiently waited for whatever the next activity was.

CRAFTS - We didn't anticipate that so many younger children would have under-developed motor skills. So our volunteers and helpers did a lot of tracing and cutting for kids that couldn't get the scissors to work. We hauled a lot of craft supplies in our luggage. But we were also able to create some lessons using local raw bulk cotton, dried grass and home-made play dough. Evidently, we failed to communicate to the students that balls of cotton glued to an outline of their hand was actually a sheep. Most of the kids were still very proud of the hairy hands they created.

AGES - While VBS in the US is typically reserved for grade-school kids, we timed our VBS in Ethiopia to coincide with summer school at Adams Thermal Academy. So VBS attracted high school-aged kids as well as younger ones. In addition, children from all faith backgrounds were comfortable participating - Christian, Orthodox, Muslim and unchurched.

FOOD - VBS in the US usually involves lots of baked goodies and snacks. VBS in Ethiopia comes with a nutritious lunch. And for many, this may have been their only meal of the day. Nothing says "I love you" in a developing country quite like a full stomach.

MUSIC - You can't have VBS without fun songs and actions to go along with them, right? This is where Ethiopia VBS was quite different. There wasn't a lot of fun, kid-oriented music to select from in the Ethiopian language. So on the last day of VBS, we had a time of reverent worship with local worship songs and a presentation of the Gospel by local community leaders.

It's true, VBS in Ethiopia is different in many ways. But it's so much more than keeping kids occupied during summer vacation. In Hosanna, Ethiopia there's 600+ children who can't wait for someone to come and share the love of God with them next summer. Would you like to be involved in a VBS experience you'll never forget? We're looking for churches and individuals that would like to raise their own support and bring VBS to Hosanna in the summer of 2019.

Please contact Samuel Getachew at (605) 521-3155 or email to learn more about VBS in Ethiopia next summer. 



Eating and Learning

The Role of Nutrition in Education

(Photo) Precious food at Adams Thermal Academy Ottoro in Ethiopia. The children are not playing with their food as it appears. Rather, in Ethiopian culture, it is an act of love to feed another person and to share what you have.

When Adams Thermal Foundation launched its child sponsorship program in 2013, photographs of children began to pop up on our sponsorship website. At that time, it was easy to pick out the children that were extremely malnourished based upon their physical appearance. The eyes, the skin, the teeth and their overall stature told a story of universal scarcity and disease. Teachers were calling out the challenges of keeping children awake and attentive - even sharing instances of students fainting and falling out of their chairs. In particular, the school in mountainous and rural Ottoro, Ethiopia involved a strenuous hike each day just to get to school. The village was also more prone to food and water shortages due to it's isolation.

Our school in Hosanna was more urban and connected to reliable sources of food and water. Although our enrollment criteria of serving only the poorest-of-the-poor kept students from enjoying the benefits of regular meals that are nutritionally balanced. A meal program was already in place when the Foundation took over the school in Hosanna in 2013. Water collection tanks served by a municipal water system also ensured that students had clean water to drink and for hand washing. The difference between the Hosanna students and the Ottoro students on the sponsorship website was obvious - so much so that even casual observers might ask, "what's wrong in Ottoro"?

As soon as we became aware of the nutritional and developmental deficiencies in Ottoro, we began putting together the pieces of a plan to implement regular meals and clean water access at the school. Without any infrastructure, we would need the means and methods of food supply lines, storage, preparation and serving as well as a new reliable water system to replace an old gravity-fed line that had corroded and dried up. We began with seeking out a delivery vehicle that could travel the rough the rough roads and transport supplies from local communities. Next came the buildings necessary to store food staples for 500+ children and some staff. Then came the kitchen and dining halls, built from indigenous wood poles, mud, grass, rocks, concrete and rolled tin. Last came the new gravity-fed water system which originated from a source 5 kilometers away at approximately 10,000 feet above sea level. The system would not only supply the school but also 3,000 other members of the local community.

In November of 2017, all the pieces were in place for students to enjoy a nutritious meal and clean water for drinking and washing. The celebration of these new resources at the isolated school was unprecedented and attributed to decades of prayer lifted up by current and previous generations. A church in the United States provided all the food for the first year of operations until child sponsorships could grow and cover the cost.

Already, the academic performance of students has shown improvement and behavioral issues due to malnutrition have been dramatically reduced. Medical issues that were largely gastrointestinal and attributable to poor sanitation and water quality are down sharply. Not only does the access to food and water aid the educational process, but this provision also incentivizes poor families to keep their children in the school program rather than requiring them to stay home and work.

While the first year of food supplies was provided by generous donors, child sponsorships in our program have still not grown to adequately cover the meal program in the coming year. If you would like to help provide food to the children in Ottoro, please call 877-678-1099 or email

Where Will We Go Next Year??

One Church's Response to 8th Graders

"I didn't want to go to Ethiopia" confessed Pastor Doug Bartel from Hillcrest Church in Sioux Falls, SD. "I've seen plenty of poverty and I knew what I would see in Ethiopia. Plus, the trip is long and I wasn't looking forward to that at all," said Bartel. Still, the reluctant pastor couldn't escape the voice that kept telling him he should go. Not only Pastor Doug, but Associate Pastor Brian Stroh was feeling called as well, potentially leaving the church with no leader for 10 days or longer.

Finally, the lingering thought became more of an urging and both pastors decided to meet with the Adams Thermal Foundation staff over lunch and discuss the logistics of a trip in January of 2018. Previously, representatives from the Foundation had come to Hillcrest Church to talk about child sponsorship, and several members of the congregation had begun relationships with students at Adams Thermal Academies in Hosanna and Ottoro, Ethiopia. Pastors Doug and Brian knew the Ethiopia story well, and so it didn't really seem necessary to make the 20-plus hour journey from Sioux Falls to Addis Ababa.

Still, the flights were booked for late January to escape the sub-zero Midwest and spend approximately a week in sunny-and-70s Ethiopia. Doug and Brian had trekked to central Africa on behalf of their church before, delivering aid to a village in war-torn South Sudan. But liaisons had broken off communications and it seemed this chapter in the book of international missions was closed for the small but committed congregation of Hillcrest Church.

Upon arrival in Addis Ababa, Pastors Doug and Brian collected their carry-on back packs and met the Adams Thermal Foundation staff in the airport parking lot. The Landcruisers that would deliver them to the schools in southern Ethiopia over highly questionable roads stood ready to make the short trip to a nearby hotel for some rest and time-zone calibration.

The next morning, the travel team headed out for the road trip to Hosanna, approximately 220 kilometers southwest of Addis Ababa. Still, the voice that had urged Doug and Brian to fly half-way around the world remained silent and expectations of sights, sounds and smells were met in abundance as the cruisers navigated around gaping potholes, herds of cattle and over-stuffed vans and buses carrying Ethiopians to-and-from the capital. The rural landscape dotted with small plots of hand-worked cropland and mud huts served as reminders of the hardships of life in a developing country.

Upon arrival in Hosanna, the students at Adams Thermal Academy lined up in their customary formation to greet the US visitors with flowers, loud singing and clapping. The kindergarteners held up signs bearing the names of the visitors written in their best Ethio-English penmanship. Tours of the Academy classrooms and lunch with some of the older, English-speaking students was enjoyable and gave testimony to the similarities between visitors and students more so than differences. But still, the voice was silent - no epiphanies or revelations - no lightbulbs turning on or "ah-hah" moments regarding the purpose of this excursion.

It was not until the following day, during the trip to rugged-and-rural Ottoro, that the message was delivered. Visitors to Ottoro have often commented in amazement that a vehicle does not simply fall apart after enduring the punishing roads that connect Ottoro with the main highway. So it could not have been the peace and tranquility of the Ethiopian countryside that rendered the voice audible. The children at Adams Thermal Academy in Ottoro shouted for joy at the US visitor's arrival and the ground shook as all 500-plus students jumped in unison in accordance with their call-and-response singing and clapping. Typically, visitors become overwhelmed at this point with the realization that people who have so little can be so grateful and happy. This coupled with the idea that visitors from America can instantly become rock stars in the tiny secluded village of Ottoro.

As quickly as the celebration of welcome begins, the commotion ends and students move swiftly to their mud-walled classrooms. The pastors visited several classes for introductions, short speeches and selfies. Starting from the youngest grades and progressing to the oldest, it's not difficult to understand the needs of these people and their school while moving from one building to the next. The evidence of malnutrition and disease is obvious. Their uniforms and shoes are barely holding together. Their broken desks and worn-out blackboards are barely noticeable as each room is crammed wall-to-wall with smiling eyes and hopeful faces.

The Academy in Ottoro was originally built for grades K-8 in the hopes that someday, God might bless this prayerful people with a high school. It was during the visit to the 8th grade classroom that the hands were raised and the question was asked by a student to the visitors from the US. "Where will we go next year," a young boy asked, referring to the lack of a high school at the Academy. While this was a common inquiry of US visitors to the school, it was the first time that Doug and Brian had heard of it.

The students at Adams Thermal Academy Ottoro are generally well aware that their opportunity for an education is wholely-sustained by American donors. And without the capacity to fully comprehend the scope of the question, the 8th-graders in particular have become accustomed to innocent but persistent inquiries into the status of a high school. The answer is essentially an issue of capital as the Ottoro campus lacks any extra building space whatsoever. Although land is plentiful.

The Adams Thermal Foundation staff jumped in and answered the question on behalf of the visiting pastors, informing the ambitious young man that there were currently no resources or plan to build. This familiar response was capped off with a reminder that prayer had always been the best source of provision for the school and that it would be again.

As the traveling team completed their tour and staff attended to a few administrative duties before leaving, the group stuck up a conversation with the local elders who watch over the school. Out of curiosity, one of the Adams Thermal staff asked the elders how many students in the area might attend the school if there was greater capacity. The answer shocked all the visitors - "double the current enrollment" or 1,000 more students would attend if they were ever given the opportunity.

Walking back to the Landcruisers, Brian asked Doug, "are you thinking what I'm thinking" The two pastors had worked together for 14 years and had gotten used to reading each other?s non-verbal cues. Doug?s response was immediate, "I think we're supposed to build them a high school." The indefinite pastors, unsure of why they came, had heard their calling with certainty and affirmation.

The next morning, over double macchiatos, Pastor Doug revealed his thoughts from the doodles and scribbles in his journal. His 20th anniversary as a pastor at Hillcrest was coming up in a few months. He knew church leaders were looking for a way to commemorate the event. Pastor Doug would ask his congregation to build a high school building in Ottoro in recognition of his service to the church. Rather than seeking an exotic vacation or the traditional gifts that would mark a major milestone, the pastor unselfishly exchanged the honor of his accomplishment for the chance to lift the poorest-of-the-poor out of deep poverty in Christ's name.

The long-term vision for every at-risk child that attends Adams Thermal Academy is that each of them would be the first in their family to complete high school and earn a post-secondary degree. It is well understood on the lowest rungs of Ethiopian society that education is the key to lifting families and generations out of the poverty cycle. Education is the difference between begging in the streets or lifting an entire country up to a new standard of life and significance.

On Easter Sunday, Pastors Doug and Brian shared their vision for a new high school in Ottoro with the congregation at Hillcrest Church. Jesus has risen from the tomb and forever changed the course of human history. This small congregation could now change history for hundreds or even thousands of children in rural Ottoro, Ethiopia. Pastor Doug, in the wisdom of his senior pastorate, hoped for 10-12 people to become involved. Instead 40 people formed a line in the front of the church after the service and asked to become involved in the high school. Twenty more people stepped forward the following Sunday and God reminded the senior pastor of Hillcrest Church that he still moves in powerful and mysterious ways.

In early May, during another visit from US visitors to the school in Ottoro, the 8th-graders learned that their prayers had been answered. As the news spread throughout the community, back home the donations kept coming in to the church office at Hillcrest. A date was set to present the gift to Adams Thermal Foundation and a giant ceremonial check was filled out with an amount that would be incorrect on the day it was presented. Up to the last minute, donations kept coming in and on August 19th, 2018, the Hillcrest Church congregation in Sioux Falls, SD presented a gift of $51,200 for the building of high school classrooms in Ottoro. In addition, 100 students in Ottoro were individually sponsored by members of the Hillcrest congregation.

As construction begins on the new classroom structure, members of the Hillcrest congregation will involve themselves in the building process through regular planning sessions and conference calls with the Adams Thermal staff, engineers and the building contractor. In late summer of 2019, members of the church plan to visit Ottoro, meet their sponsored children and commission the new high school structure for God's glory and blessing of the Ethiopian people.

Hillcrest Church is one of several congregations that have chosen to partner with Adams Thermal Foundation.ˇAll the churches that have become involved in our programs share common objectives - to become more mission-focused and to engage their membership in the lives of those they seek to serve. Adams Thermal Foundation Academies enroll only the poorest-of-the-poor including orphans, HIV-positive children and those suffering from severe poverty. Churches have the opportunity to impact at-risk students and their families from kindergarten through high school - breaking the poverty-cycle and growing a new generation of leaders for Africa.


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

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 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

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!