July 2016, update

Having spent 2 weeks each in May, June, and July on sight, I am way overdue for an update! As you have probably seen on FB, the build is well underway. We have a US based green builder, Erik Keller, on sight, and that has had a very positive impact on our build. Erik volunteered to go over for 3 months to get the build moving, but after being there and realizing that everything moves significantly slower without having a local Home Depot, Erik hired on as our building manager and is in the process of getting a 2 year visa so that he can be on sight until the village is built. He has been a HUGE asset to Uryadi's Village! The first two buildings are well underway, at last! The realistic goal in place is that we will have 4 family houses build by the end of the year, and our goal is to move our children on sight before the end of 2016. I can't wait to get them there!

Our amazing permaculture expert, Warren Brush, was there with the team for the 2 weeks in July, and as always when he is on sight,so MUCH was accomplished! The "earth works" is now complete, the irrigation system is in place, and the precious rain water is now being harvested for times of drought. It is currently rainy season in Ethiopia, and we are loving ALL the rain falling! We are growing enough veggies on sight now to supply our kids with great variety, it is such a blessing to see them harvest and eat off our land, such a major step forward!

Another big step is that we have joined with the local government, and become licensed to place babies with local families for adoption! As you all know, the very best thing for a baby is to grow up within the love of a family, and we are grateful that we are now going to be able to provide this for some of our infants! It will be a slow process as we will need to provide training and support for families interested in adoption, and are currently working on implementing a screening and monitering process for prospective families. Local adoption is rather new in Ethiopia, but through the local churches, we have many interested families. Such a blessing for the infants in our care! (if you and sponsoring one of our babies who is lucky enough to have a family interested in adopting them we will let you know )The local government also asked us if we would be willing to provide "forever homes" to eligible (i.e. orphaned) street children in Soddo. These are the children who desperately need a home, an education, and a chance at life.... We were very happy to step up with a resounding YES!

On our trip in July we brought the first of these children home to our center. 12 year old Tigist was basically sold by her homeless mother to an older lady as a house maid, when the older lady died a few months ago, Tigist was left on the street. In that her mother had also been homeless, Tigist had no idea where she may be. Two months ago Tigist was hit by a car and brought to the government hospital. They kept her for two months, but when it was time for her discharge the local police were called as this young girl had nowhere to go.... We got the call and went up to the government hospital to pick her up and bring her "home'.... Tigist was still wearing the cloths she was hit in, complete with blood stains... Sorry for the graphic description, but I do want to share real life there with you all. We popped her in the shower and gave her clean cloths and many hugs...She was very timid at first, but quickly adjusted and is now happily bonding with her care center "sisters" Hannah, Jerusalem, and Lem Lem. My heart aches for children like Tigist, and I am grateful that we are able to provide homes for these children who SO deserve them.... There are more profound stories I would like to share with you, but I don't want to make this message too long, so I will share them over time :-)

Our team on the ground in Ethiopia are the real backbone to this project, Director Henok Desta, Program Manager Sister Amarech Gabrela Bikamo, Project Manager Terefe Dagne, and their teams, work tirelessly and with so much dedication to the project and the children we serve. We could not do this without these amazing individuals and our staff as a whole!

Thank you for your interest and support, thank you for being part of our village and helping support this amazing community of children.....

With So Much Gratitude,


Most welcomed addition to our Care Center

Its taken me some time to write about the newest addition to our care center, Edigatu, as there was much about this beautiful baby boys first 48 hours that I had to process in my mind and heart before I could share his story. On the second day of our trip we were asked by our regional MOWA office (MOWA is the government branch in charge of orphaned children) if we could take in a baby boy who was headed to our town of Soddo by ambulance. Technically we are full, until our village is built, when we can expand to double our current capacity of 30, but we are the only care center who accepts infants.

Edigatu arrived a few hours later and I was there to greet the ambulance outside the MOWA office. I was handed a tiny baby boy, umbilical chord still attached, maybe 48 hours old and covered in dirt. He was starving and the sugar water he had been fed was not filling his little tummy! His fists were clenched and he was trying desperately to find something to suck on that would satisfy his hunger. It wasn’t long before our wonderful Sister Amarech arrived with cloths, blankets, and a new- born bottle full of formula. Edigatu may be tiny but he is a strong little guy and latched on to that bottle, drank half of it, snuggled up to me and fell into that sweet baby sleep, formula trickling down the side of his mouth.

Edigatu was found alone and naked in the forest. Were it not for his extremely loud cries heard by a kind-hearted woman passing by, Edigatu would likely have faced the same fate as many abandoned babies in rural Africa, hyenas. I hesitate to share this as it is so heart breaking and shocking to those of us living in the western world, but life in rural Africa is HARD. It’s survival of the fittest, period. I had two great friends give birth to babies here in the US within days of Edigatu’s birth. These two precious babies were born to families who had been anxiously awaiting their arrival, these babies were born into true love and will grow up loved and cherished with all of their needs met. It seems so unfair that this beautiful baby born wasn’t born into love and warmth, but spent his first hours alone in the dirt and dark, hungry, bewildered and scared. I just can’t wrap my head and heart around how unfair life can be. One might ask, what mother could do this to her baby? A mother who is herself alone, scared, and probably starving as well. A mother void of love and safety. A mother in so much pain that the pain of losing her child actually seems like the easier path. I pray for Edigatu’s mother, I can only image her pain…

I know this is the story of most of the children in our care, and when I experience it first hand it breaks my heart… BUT, it also makes me stronger and more determined then ever to make SURE we get our village built and can care for more and more children. Every child DESERVES to be safe and loved… This baby boy WILL grow up knowing love, sadly not the love of his mother, but he will grow up in our village and we will love and protect him, this is the promise I whispered in his ear as he slept in my arms….

This sweet baby boy needs a committed sponsor who will stick by his side as he grows up. If you are interested in sponsoring Edigatu, please email me (Jennifer@uryadisvillage.org) as our sponsorship coordinator is currently traveling.

With Love and Gratitude,

Thank you to all of our supporters and sponsors!

Having just returned from Ethiopia and having spent time holding and snuggling all of our children, I would like to personally thank each and everyone who has stepped forward to generously sponsor one of the children in our care. Our babies are growing like weeds under the watchful eye of our head Nurse, Sister Amarech. Our toddlers are toddling away :-) We have 10 toddlers now walking (and running) around the care center! Potty training is in full swing (as you can see in the pics) and educational toys are in full use! Our older children are all in school and progressing at quite a good rate, our deaf children are now well versed in sign language and the other older children have also learned to sign so that all the big kids can chat and play. They are quite the tight knit rough :-) It melts my heart to watch our older children loving their little care center siblings, so nourishing for all involved. We are so lucky to have Sister Amarech leading such a loving and dedicated team of nannies.... I can't tell you the impact your sponsorship has on these children's lives....You enable us to ensure our children have proper nutrition, medical care, and LOVE!!!! Your dedicated sponsorship really is saving lives.... Some of our sponsors have already met their children, and it is my hope that one day each of you will meet your child and see first hand the difference you have made in the life of a very special child....

All of these pics were taken at our rented care center last week, it is our hope that by the end of the year all funds will have been raised and our new children's village will be complete so that our children will be living in their permanent home with loving house parents on a beautiful hillside just outside of town.

With Gratitude and Love,

Return to Wolayta Village

Its always so wonderful to return to our village sight and see all of the progress! The team on the ground at Wolayta Village (the name of our sustainable orphan village in Soddo, Ethiopia) has been hard at work since I was last there 8 weeks ago. As you can see in the pictures, the earthworks and water catchment systems are almost complete to ensure year round water. The swales which slow, spread and sink the water to keep the food forest moist and growing are all in place, and the team on the ground already has food sprouting! We are so grateful that we have Erik, an experienced green builder from the US, on the ground at Wolayta Village to manage the village build which has officially started! We are as motivated as ever and working hard to raise the additional funds needed to see our village to completion so that our children can move to their forever family style homes. It takes a village to build a village, please be part of ours and help us build Wolayta Village by copying and pasting the link below and donating, or donating through our website (www.uryadisvillage.org) and we would be grateful if you would share this post. every dollar helps!
With Gratitude,
Jennifer Crooks


Uryadi's Village at Paso Robles!

Paso Robles is coming quickly, and everyone here at Uryadi's Village is so excited to be partnering with West Palm Publications and Events for our Uryadi's Village BBQ. We would love to have you join us for the BBQ on June 3rd. Tickets are available either at the Uryadi's Village booth or the show office and are $20. We want to send a huge thank you to Dale Harvey and his awesome crew at West Palms Event Management for their support of Uryadi's Village. We couldn't do what we do without people like them!!! We look forward to seeing you there!

Things changing at Wolayta Village!

Since we left Wolayta Village in the capable hands of Henok Desta and Atiso Atumo Tesisa, our Agricultural Director, things have been changing and growing and just getting closer and closer to our vision of Wolayta Village. Check out the progress and feel free to share and comment, we'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tariku has been matched to a sponsor!

Our adorable little man Tariku has found the most loving sponsors in Sarah Gould and her family! This little man is not only super cute, he has the funniest and happiest personality! Thank you Gould family for changing his world and for giving him the security of a healthy diet, medical care, and the love that every child on this earth deserves... The whole team at Uryadi's Village sends you a heart felt AMASAGANALO!!! (thank you in Amharic)

Abduramane has found a sponsor!

Abduramane has found an amazing family to be his sponsor!!! Thank you to Uryadi's Village board member Molly Talla and her wonderful family for their generous sponsorship of this baby boy, thank you for changing his life in so many ways.... Looking forward to you meeting and snuggling this special little one in July!!!