Local woman works to build community in Ethiopia

BRISTOL — For most of us, it is unthinkable to imagine growing up without a family, but that is the sad reality for many children. To learn more about a program addressing this problem, the public is invited to attend “The Betasab Project: The Global Family Initiative Helping Orphans and Women in Ethiopia” with Claudia Cooper on Thursday, Nov. 29, at the Lawrence Memorial Library from 7-8:30 p.m. 
Claudia Cooper is a co-founder of Global Family Initiative and has been visiting and working in Ethiopia since 2003. She also teaches in the Education Studies and English departments at Middlebury College, where she focuses on literacy, global education, and writing and literature for children and young adults.
GFI’s first venture is the Betasab Project, located in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia. Betasab means family in Amharic. The Betasab Project provides marginalized and vulnerable Ethiopian women and children with the means to a secure future through a holistic community-building approach, halting the cycle of poverty and lack of education by empowering women and children with infrastructure, resources, and educational opportunities. 
The program provides permanent family homes for 20 orphaned and abandoned children, with the child care coming from two full-time staff positions, a mother and an auntie, for each house. Through the family model, GFI seeks to provide stability and love for children who would otherwise miss out on knowing what being part of a supportive family means.
During the presentation, Cooper will discuss Betasab and the Global Family Initiative, explaining how it was formed through a combination of her personal story, her work in Ethiopia, and her teaching. She will highlight the programs’ successes as well as its hurdles and share stories and photos of the children it serves. Cooper will offer an overview of GFI’s programs and explain where the organization is now as her daughter Meskerem, who she adopted from Ethiopia, is about to take the helm.
The Nov. 29 event at Lawrence Library is sponsored by One World Library Project and supported by the Vermont Humanities Council. It is free and handicapped accessible.
For more information about Global Family Initiative and The Betasab Project, see globalfamilyinitiative.org.
For more information about this event or One World Library Project, contact the Lawrence Memorial Library at 453-2366 or go to OneWorldLibraryProject.org or the One World Library Project Facebook page.

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