Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Big Woo Appeal for IOFA!!!!!! - in Ethiopia!

Hi all,

Wanted to interrupt this normally silly and shallow blog for a Big Woo Holiday Appeal to help an incredible organization called IOFA - the International Organization for Adolescents.

IOFA is an independent, nonprofit Chicago-based organization advocating for the rights of adolescents. Our current initiatives include the prevention of child exploitation, especially human trafficking, promotion and support of girls’ leadership, and the empowerment of orphaned youth. Currently, I am serving on the board and working with IOFA and potential partner organizations to expand its activities to Ethiopia, particularly in the area of orphanage transition.

As many adopted parents experience, when you pick up your new son or daughter you see and interact with the older kids. It's probably reasonable to guess that these kids might very well stay in the care center or orphanage without a permanent family for most of their childhood years. The orphanage becomes their home. Most often, when they become adults, they are forced to leave this "home" and make do on their own. Without ongoing support, they struggle with self-sufficiency, including finding a job, managing finances, securing a place to live, health care, finding friends, building relationships, and basically keeping safe. This leaves them incredibly vulnerable to crime and exploitation, including human trafficking, prostitution, the drug trade, and begging on the streets. Every organization I spoke with in Addis, including AHOPE and CHSFS (and a brief conversation with Melissa Faye Greene) said that this was one of the most pressing and most neglected issues in working with the orphaned population.

In response to situations like this, IOFA developed and implemented a creative and comprehensive orphanage transition program called Project Prepare!, first in Serbia, and now hopefully in Ethiopia. Project Prepare! is a multi-facted support program that meets the vast needs of this vulnerable population. The Project Prepare! curriculum teaches youth how to search for jobs and manage finances, how to differentiate between safe migration and human trafficking, how to avoid drugs and violence, and to create a safe and supportive network.

My husband and I had the wonderful opportunity to visit centers where Project Prepare might take place in Ethiopia. Below are some photos of us at Children's Heaven - a wonderful program that works with adolescent girls, providing them a safe and loving place to call home. We would love to bring Project Prepare to these fantastic women!

I know the holidays are upon us and the economy is rough. However, I just realized that Big Woo gets about 150 to 200 hits per day. If each Big Woo reader would click on the link below and donate maybe $5 to $10 dollars to IOFA, we could raise a good amount to support the launch of Project Prepare in Ethiopia. If you have any questions about the program, my experience in Ethiopia, or IOFA, let me know ( All support, no matter the amount is most welcome!

About IOFA -

To donate -

Thanks for your support and readership! Now back to gratuitously cute pictures of Little M and my hubby.

1 comment:

Lyn-Dee said...

You are such a role model. Claire Huxtable has nothing on you!