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Blog : Global Family Initiative

2014 Summer News!


Greetings GFI Friends and Family! Summer might be winding down but we’re still in full force! For many, summer is a time of warmth, spent with friends and family, and our kids would want us to mention that summer is also a time for freedom.
You’d likely get a different answer from each of our kids if you inquired about the best part of summer break, though I have a feeling Mikiyas (pictured left, our resident football fan) has an answer that relates to a certain internationally popular game played without hands. But most importantly for us, it’s a time to reflect on the brilliant achievements of our Betasab kids. So if you’ll permit the indulgence, we’d like to brag for a moment about their accomplishments.
Our kids have made enormous strides this past school year. To give you a sense, here’s some data from the report cards of our Origins children:

  • Two ranked #1 in their classes.
  • Nine ranked in the top five of their classes.
  • Five received straight A’s.
And more important than numbers is the culture of enthusiasm surrounding education that our staff and supporters have worked so hard to engender. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of Solomon, one of our older boys.

Solomon the Wise

King Solomon was known for wisdom, but if King Solomon were still around, we’d tell him to watch his back – because there’s a new King in town.

Solomon has had a particularly outstanding year. After receiving high A’s across the board, he was named “King Student of the Year” for having the school’s highest average. The entire Betasab family shares in Solomon’s success, which inspires his brothers and sisters, classmates, and teachers alike. We hope you’re impressed by his hard work as well; we’re blown away by this young man.

Young Philanthropists at Work — 2nd Annual Bake Sale Raises $400

8th graders Nora Draper, Ada Anderson, Emily Laframboise, Grace Widelitz, and their helping hands, Lorraine Tobias, Theresa Anderson, Katie Isham, and Tracy Isham, put together a terrifically successful bake sale offering their hand-made cupcakes, cookies, and sweet and savory pastries at the 2014 Peasant Market in Middlebury, VT.

These friends of the program (pictured above, giving the proceeds to GFI’s co-founder, Claudia) took to the market on July 12 to help Betasab raise money for the second consecutive year, and at day’s end they’d raised almost $400 for GFI. This roughly doubled their earnings from last year. We’d like to thank them for their effort and enthusiasm!

Letter From Lafto

Here is a report from three friends who have now joined our ever-growing Betasab family. After visiting Addis Ababa for two weeks and volunteering their time and energy doing science projects and social work projects with Betasab, they had some reflections that we’d like to share with you. This is their letter:

Jean Baptiste Massieu once said, “gratitude is the memory of the heart.” After two weeks volunteering with Betasab, our hearts overflow in memories, in gratitude, in thanksgiving. We are overwhelmed by our time with this wonderful organization and know that while we attempt to put it into words, the true experience lives in our heart memories.We are Sara Woldt, Mark Siegel, and Kelsey Siegel, long time friends all hailing originally from Wisconsin. We have shared the common desire to volunteer abroad and heard about Betasab as it was developing. Sara went to high school with Eric Hoest, one of the original founders of Betasab. We became interested in volunteering with Betasab with our various backgrounds of education, family therapy, and engineering after hearing about the focus on community and creating family homes for children. From our first day volunteering and everyday after, we were welcomed with open arms and kisses by the children, mothers and aunties, and staff. We were treated to coffee ceremonies and delicious meals. We prepared hands on, science learning activities to share with the children. They seemed to love exploring and learning and are eager, bright children. We also created some therapy activities which focused on relaxation, guided imagery, and feeling identification as strategies to cope with trauma. We saw first hand the resilience the children have, and how everyone supports and loves each other. We are so impressed by the organization, from the respect the children showed, to the hospitality of the mothers and aunties, to the passion the staff have for their work. We truly feel lucky to have had the time to understand the organization on such a personal level. We are excited and committed to continuing to advocate for Betasab and the Global Family Initiative, with a gracious heart full of memories.-Sara Woldt, Mark Siegel, and Kelsey Siegel
(Photo Credits: Kelsey Siegel)

Betasab Focuses on Monitoring and Evaluation

One essential component of a successful program is understanding what works and what needs to be improved. To that end we’re benefiting from new data provided by our intern Adam Porter, a recent MPH graduate from Boston University. He spent the spring semester with us conducting extensive health, education, and development research in the community, updating earlier survey data and developing a robust monitoring and evaluation plan for our Learning Lions program.

The best news of all comes in the form of a confirmation: our kids are safe, eating well, and learning in school. And this fuels our commitment to build upon our model and expand our impact. Pictured on the left, one of our Learning Lions with her mother.

Thank you Adam!

One final note of thanks: to our wonderful intern, Priscilla Odinmah, thank you for all your hard work this summer. We wish you the best of luck in your final year at Middlebury College and hope you’ll remain a member of the extended GFI family!

Of course the end of the summer brings the start of the next school year. Imagine BACK-TO-SCHOOL times 45! Our kids need supplies, clothes, and tuition fees. Please consider helping us secure bright futures all around by providing our kids with an excellent education. If you’re able to give—and any amount helps—you can contribute to Betasab’s education fund by clicking on the button below.

We also have a number of children still in need of sponsorship—for more information on the Origins Sponsorship Program, click here, or to become a sponsor, click on the button below. We can’t express the depth of our thanks for your generosity; you sustain us.

Warm regards,

Nick RogersonCo-founder and Director
Claudia CooperCo-founder and Director


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We’re launching our Origins Sponsorship program

Dear GFI Friends,

I hope the new year is bringing you joy and laughter. For many of us, the winter has been rough. But at Global Family Initiative’s Betasab project in Addis Ababa, we’re working hard to keep the sun shining for our Origins children, and the local women and students who rely on our community development programs.

As the ice melts from this intense, snowy winter, I’d like you to consider an exciting way to spread a bit more of the burgeoning sunshine around. At GFI, we’re launching our Origins Sponsorship program, and would love for you to share in our excitement. Sponsorship is a great way to connect personally with our project and our children. By pledging at the ally, humanitarian, or luminary levels, you become a meaningful part of the life of a Betasab child. Some details:

  • Ally: $400/year or $34/month, and can provide nutritious food for an Origins child.
  • Humanitarian: $800/year or $67/month, and can provide an Origins child with school tuition in addition to food.
  • Luminary: $1200/year or $100/month, and can provide food, school tuition, recreation, medicine, a savings account, and clothing for an Origins child.

With our base sponsorship set at just over a dollar a day, you’ll be able to follow the progress of the individual child you’ve sponsored through videos, photos, and letters. And most importantly, each child will sleep soundly with the knowledge that someone has his or her future covered.

A few dollars a day might not sound like much. For us, it’s a cup of coffee, a gym membership, an item on the grocery list. But that amount can feed a Betasab Origins child for weeks.

Follow this link to learn more about how you can keep the sun shining for an Origins child, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with our giving officer, Jeff (by email at jeff.stauch@betasab.org or at 802-377-7090), or directors Claudia and Nick.

From our family to yours, we wish you the best!

Warm regards,

Nick Rogerson
Co-founder and Director

Betasab kids in “friendly” soccer match

Our kids at The Betasab Project paid a visit to Don Bosco’s Children’s Village this Saturday to take on their fellow former orphans and street children in a “friendly” soccer match. The Betasab team, decked out in special red uniforms, emerged victorious, 1-0; however, the day was more notable for the new friends and the memories made on both sides of the ball.

Recreation is a key component of our holistic approach, giving kids the opportunity to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle – and, in circumstances like this one, to form new bonds. $10/month covers the cost of recreation for one child; if you’d like to give our children the opportunity to engage in events like this in the future, we hope you’ll consider making a monthly donation.

Your gift will go toward our The Math Makes Sense campaign. And, if you give on behalf of a loved one, an anonymous donor will match half of your total. (Just fill out the form after you check out.)

Below are a few pictures of Saturday’s event!

Betasab is now The Global Family Initiative

Dear Friends,

We have great news! Over the last eighteen months, we’ve shared success stories from Betasab’s work in Addis Ababa: orphans thriving in their new homes, outcast women now accepted by the community, unorthodox families celebrating the traditions of Ethiopian life.

Since its launch in May 2012, Betasab has exceeded our wildest expectations. We are particularly proud that eight of our 17 school-aged children placed in the top three of their classes this past year. These children would not have had access to education – and the chance to excel – had they remained in an orphanage or on the street.

Today, we are pleased to announce an expansion of our vision.

Betasab will now become a part of a new nonprofit: The Global Family Initiative. The GFI’s mission is to empower orphaned children and vulnerable women in developing countries through access to education, healthcare, and families.

Our first endeavor – which we’ll continue to call The Betasab Project – has given 21 orphaned children and six vulnerable women the means to a secure future. We have also created jobs for five talented staff members and given educational access to over 45 children who would otherwise not go to school due to their extreme poverty.

Our rebranding will allow us to spread this rewarding model to other areas throughout the world, all under one umbrella: The Global Family Initiative.

The GFI and The Betasab Project are funded entirely through donations from supporters like you. We ask you to consider a gift to mark this exciting occasion.

Claudia, Nick, Keith, Jeff, and I are so grateful for all of the support you’ve given us, and we’re excited to address the problems facing orphaned children and vulnerable women on a much broader scale. We hope you’ll join us in taking the initiative.

Sincerely yours,
Eric signature

P.S. Be sure to follow our new social media accounts!

Photos from Ethiopian New Year 2006

The Ethiopian calendar is much different from ours. It has twelve 30-day months, and a five- or six-day “special” month at the end. Ethiopia’s tourism tagline, 13 Months of Sunshine, plays off this.

New Year’s Day is called Enkutatash (እንቁጣጣሽ), which means “gift of jewels” in Amharic. It usually falls on September 11, or on September 12 in leap years. The country celebrates the date with special traditions, one of which is wearing brand new clothes.

This Enkutatash, marking the beginning of the year 2006 on the Ethiopian calendar, our families participated in this tradition, which represents a clean slate for the coming year.

As you look through these photos, we ask you to remember that a little over a year ago, these children had very little hope for the future. Now, thanks to Betasab, they are excelling in school, are in superb health, and serve as vital members of their community.

Please consider giving us a donation to mark this happy occasion.

Thank you again for your support! This celebration would not have happened without your generosity.

Betasab Enkutatesh 2006 - 01

Betasab Enkutatesh 2006 - 02

Betasab Enkutatesh 2006 - 07

Celebrating one year with three families

A year ago this week, we welcomed a dozen children from the government’s Kibebe Tsehay orphanage. This group formed our second and third Betasab families.

Joining us were Teddy, a top student who moonlights as class clown; Ketemash, at first shy but full of personality once she gets to know you; Mohamed, his goofy grin belying a heart of gold; and nine others. We’re so blessed to have them with us.

They have far exceeded our expectations. In just one year, their assessment-scores have gone up over 50% on education, and nearly 20% on behavior. They’re happy and healthy. They help and love their new mothers and siblings – their family.

All of this thanks to you.

We now serve twenty-one children in our Group Homes. Will you help us celebrate this milestone with a donation of $21?

Donate 21 dollars

Thank you again for your generosity. We have some exciting initiatives in the works, and we look forward to sharing them with you over the next few months.


Keith Williams signature white

Keith Williams
US Program Director

P.S. If you are able, we’d like you to consider a recurring donation. Your gift of $21 each month will allow us to better plan our financial needs on a regular basis.

Donate 21 dollars monthly

Excellent educational results


With the school year coming to an end, our schools showered our young scholars with accolades!

8 of our 21 group-home children finished in the top three of their classes, with three being named “star students”. One of these, Solomon, was first among all children in grades 1-4 with a grade of 99.25%!

In addition, two of our children graduated from kindergarten.

Your past generosity provided our children with this opportunity. Please consider a donation to support their continued education and personal growth.

We offer two different levels:

Why it’s important
Monthly cost
What it purchases
Learning Lions
Aside from running our group homes, we cover school tuition for nearly 100 other local students.
Full support for one Learning Lion.


The centerpiece of our approach. We see an enlightened mind as the key to a secure future.


High-quality instruction for one child.


To give another amount, please visit our donation page.

You can check out our children’s certificates (and like us!) on Facebook.

Great educational success

Today we received word that Solomon placed first in his class of 37! We are very proud of his work.

Solomon is a great “older brother” to the younger children in his house. He will not hesitate to assist a sibling who’s struggling with a new concept, whether it’s math, English, or science. In fact, he taught a counting game to some of our American staff, which helped them to learn the Amharic numbers up to 100.

Here is Solomon holding the certificate he received for his outstanding achievement.

Solomon certificate