While we were out we went to visit a compound for one of the African Widows and Orphans Projects (AWOP). http://www.awop.org/ It's known locally as the Firewood Woments project. The women here make a living weaving long scarves on manually operated looms. We had been blessed to see this place the last time we were here and now they are much bigger and doing more. There were many tiny preschoolers who came out to greet us and each took turns shaking our hands and saying "Hello!"
The women, prior to coming to this place, used to earn money walking miles up the side of the mountains next to Addis, to gather firewood to sell on a daily basis. They would be fortunate to make the equivalent of about $1 a day. They would then have to figure out how to feed their babies and themselves. The project has come from the Lord to give them a way of making a better wage and having a safe place for their babies while they work.
This project now has a little school and few other buildings that we didn't see the last time we were here. The loom frames were made from slender, rough hewed poles. Now they have metal frames. The buildings are still rather dark and arcane, but I'm sure that can be remedied as funds become available. Each of the scarves sold will pay for so much more than the women could ever make selling firewood. It gives them a little more independence and provides a learning place for their little ones. This is Pam's passion - women supporting women - doing for themselves rather than backbracking labor, begging or selling themselves in order to survive.
Many Westerners are reluctant to help other countries when they believe that they are perpetuating a problem. I understand that feeling, I used to feel that way myself. Until the Lord showed me what real need is, what real compassion is and what people will do if given an opportunity to help themselves. This project is one of the best examples of people who are in real need, receiving real compassion and doing something positive about.