Below is a message from Jim Miller,
President Emeritus of M.O.R.E.
First, I am pleased that you are visiting with us via the Medhen Orphan Relief Effort (M.O.R.E.) website. Please take time to “look around” so that you can learn more about our small, grass-roots organization and our undertaking to improve the lives of orphaned children in one impoverished area of Ethiopia. We invite you to come back here as often as you can to view updated photographs of the children and the facilities, and to connect with us through our events and publicity. We would love you to get involved with us in any way that you can. Everything given to us, from a prayer to a contribution, is appreciated and is valued. Some huge hearts drive this work.
Now to the theme: Uniqueness
Strangely, this has been a difficult letter for me to write, and because of that, there have been many drafts that have ended up in my wastebasket. Each time I tried to put pen to paper to describe this remarkable program, the mission, the children, the staff in Ethiopia, the “what” and the “who” of the Medhen Orphan Relieve Effort (M.O.R.E.), I have found myself overwhelmed by all of the incredible stories that need to be told, and the miracles that have occurred that should be described. During my ten years on this journey, there have been so many people (children and adults) and so many events (small and large) that have reached to the core of my soul, and that have collected around my heart, that I simply did not know where and how to begin to inscribe it in print. I have finally solved my own dilemma by choosing the simple route of pledging to choose a theme, and do a quarterly letter for each. With all of the brilliance and light that shines on our little initiative, it will be easy to fill volumes of these “messages”.
The Medhen Social Center’s (MSC) “Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC)” program was founded from the unique concept that the plight of the children need not be handled in the customary way of institutionalizing the little ones in buildings constructed behind orphanage walls, but rather that the children and the community can be healed together. This idea grew not from a strategic plan, but rather from the circumstances at hand. The MSC was started decades ago by the remarkable, compassionate, and energetic Sr. Senkenesh Mariam who began by giving care to those afflicted by leprosy in an impoverished area outside the city center of Addis Ababa. About a dozen years ago, and with the scourge of the HIV + AIDS virus waging a fierce war against the people of the community, distant family members and neighbors of children whose parents had died began dropping children off at the MSC Center. With no program or facilities available to handle this phenomenon, but with the compassion to aid these distressed children, the idea was born to ask married couples, who could not conceive their own children due to the effects of leprosy, to take the orphaned children into their homes. In return for this, the hope was to be able give them a small amount of funds, which could then help improve their own desperately impoverished conditions. This plan has worked exceedingly well, beginning with two children, a five-year-old boy and his three-year-old sister who a dying aunt had left at the Center .The program carries on all these years later and continues to prosper through the OVC program that is now fully funded by the M.O.R.E. organization. The program currently supports 592 children, but many more have “graduated” over the past years and are now living productive and healthy lives!
This exceptional home-based care program allows the children to be raised in family settings by foster parents who come to care and love the children as if they were their own. The OVC gives financial support and child-raising counseling to the caregivers, and the children receive all that is necessary for a full education (books, uniforms, special tutoring, and college scholarships), food, medical care, and skills training. As importantly, the program offers every child psychosocial support to deal with the issues associated with being orphaned and offers the tools needed to keep the memory of parents and their last words before death within the heart of the child.
In the process of providing aid for the children, hundreds of extremely impoverished adults are not only provided with the financial support to enable them to live healthier lives, but they are also privileged to experience the merciful love of children that they might otherwise not ever have experienced. This is truly unique and all encompassing with benefits to the children, the adults, and the entire community!
Unique also is the small group of individuals who began M.O.R.E., and the hundreds of supporters who have come to the rescue of the precious children that we serve. The organization is now in the second year of official status as a 501c (3) US Not-for-Profit. It truly has been awe-inspiring to be in at the beginning and my gratitude to these concerned supporters cannot be expressed in words. Well, maybe it can.” I’ve seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives.” These “angels”, and all that they do, is the subject of my next message, so please stay tuned….
With much love,
M.O.R.E. Founder / President