Days 9 & 10- the Journey Home

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As we make ourselves ready for our journey home I have some time to reflect on the entire experience and try to put into perspective all that has happened since we began preparing for this trip way back in October. I will most likely repeat this exercise again over the coming weeks and months as there is just so much to process.

We traveled to Ethiopia with the World Vision Micro team and the Leadercast Live team to help tell a story about how small entrepreneurs and individuals can have profound and lasting impact in the lives of families in economically struggling communities. The story is true unscripted 'reality'. With little or no hope, these small entrepreneurs are looking for a helping hand - not a hand out. They are forming small cooperatives, taking loans and paying them back. For the first time many of them have what we take for granted - they have hope. It is the start in looking "Beyond You", the theme of the Leadercast Conference this year. Without hope, how can you look beyond?

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A generation ago the parents we met would not be able to find the means to support their families. Despair and divorce would be the only option. Children growing up in these homes would not have the concept of nor the ability to dream of becoming a doctor, scientist or teacher. They do now and it is wonderful to see the parents beam with pride as they look at their children. They are no different than us.

I came to Ethiopia hoping to learn; I didn't know how just how much. On the night before we left, our son, Luke, when asked what his hopes were for this trip, said "to have my preconceptions changed". Luke, it has been a successful trip!

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Now, more than before, I have an appreciation for the work needed to mobilize these communities, beyond digging wells, building schools and medical clinics. In order for these communities to thrive, they must take personal responsibility for its success, and they are doing exactly that.

If we wanted an example of how to solve the economic crisis we are experiencing domestically look no further than Tiya ADP and Firehiwot with her expanding retail business. If we want to impress upon families the importance of education then turn to Yadashi from the Wonchi ADP who won't even let her children do chores so they can dedicate themselves to getting an education. If we want to show how one family can change and mobilize a community then spend some time with Neguse from the Angolola ADP. If we want to show how determination in the face of despair can turn to hope then turn to Kelemua from Angolola who helped build a dairy cooperative to support her neighbors when times became tough.

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None of this would have been possible without the infrastructure on the ground to implement the programs required. I consider myself a well informed donor having researched the charities we support and selecting only those that are the best. Even still, I had no idea just how much work is involved to get each dollar donated to the place it is most needed. As a donor I make decisions more with my heart than with my brain. I am thankful that World Vision works to improve the lives of those that live in the Area Development Projects with a clear and well thought out plan - they make decisions with their head - and change hearts in the process.

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As a child sponsor and a funder of micro-loans, I have enjoyed reading the updates and seeing the impact that our donations have had on the community. I am moved when I see how many children have been helped. I can tell you now though that these stories are just the tip of the iceberg; they are real stories with real impact on real lives. It's one thing to read about the need for a heifer to increase milk production so the family can sell butter and yogurt, it's another to meet the cow!

We have been truly blessed to have the opportunity to work with World Vision Micro and look forward to walking alongside the many entrepreneurs that we will 'meet' through our funding of loans.

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We met and spoke to a dozen children this week from four families. They want to be doctors, scientists, engineers and teachers. For the first time these children have hope of a better life. There is still a ton of work to do but there is no question that with continued effort the work will get done.

As I write this we are making our final descent into Newark International Airport; this chapter of our journey is coming to an end but with all great stories there are more chapters to be written.

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Join me at Leadercast on May 9 in Atlanta or find a simulcast location. There will be a number of great speakers there. I would love to meet you there and discuss just how you can go "beyond you" in ways that you can scarcely even imagine.

Until next time, peace!

Bob Ferretti Newark, NJ February 23, 2014

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:

“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

2 Corinthians 9: 6-15

Do Good, EthiopiaBob Ferretti