Let’s bless some mamas, shall we?

This might be one of the most exciting posts I’ve ever written here. I’ve started and stopped it so many times because I want it to be just right, and yet the words aren’t stringing them together quite the way I want.

But you all are great, so I’m just going to plow on through already and get on with it. Ready?

There’s a village in small-town Ethiopia with our name on it. And by that, I mean WE, as a community of people who read and write the Simple Living blogs, have the chance to specifically and extraordinarily bless another community of mamas and babies who need a bit of our help.

Seriously. It’s amazing and humbling and everything in between.

We are officially partnering with Compassion International to sponsor a Child Survival Program in Woliso, Ethiopia, which is not too far outside Addis Ababa. And we can all play a part in a seriously cool way.

What’s a CSP?

A Child Survival Program (CSP) is how Compassion helps mamas and their babies when their little ones are younger than the age to be individually sponsored.

When I was in the Philippines with Compassion, one of my favorite days was when we visited a CSP and witnessed how it works in action.

The mamas learn things in weekly community groups like how to keep a clean and safe home, the importance of nutrition, and how to interact with and educate their children at the time of infancy. They often also have the opportunity to learn crucial income generating skills in order to support their family.

I remember sitting in a rickety chair in the corner, watching moms learn how to clean their water so that they can bathe and feed their babies without worry that they might not live.

I loved helping bag up some produce for each of them to take home. And each of them had a chance to show their babies to a pediatrician.

Honestly? I remember thinking that these CSP meetings were like MOPS on steroids. Moms get time with other moms, but they also learn how to keep their children alive and healthy. Major stuff.

The Fitche Evangelical Mekane Yesus CSP

In Ethiopia, thousands of girls in poverty are growing up without good role models. As these girls grow up and have babies, they lack the basic skills and knowledge needed to raise a healthy baby.

Poverty is holding mothers back from the resources they need to be the parents they long to be.

This is where Compassion’s CSP steps in. They’re coming alongside mothers to help them deliver and raise healthy babies.

Mothers in this CSP are trained how to:

  • Provide a healthy and safe environment for their child.
  • Improve on their self-esteem so that they can in turn create trust between their baby, allowing for a healthy attachment.
  • Create activities for their baby which will promote closeness, growth and a loving environment.

As for the physical needs of the baby, the CSP, steps in and provides:

  • Monthly supplies of food.
  • Training on nutritional planning.
  • Training on hygiene habits for the parents and for the baby.
  • Activities that will allow the baby to develop his/her motor skills.
  • Medical checkups to babies and their mothers, and pregnant mothers.
  • These are the needed critical steps for breaking the cycle of poverty.

How we get to be involved

Our CSP outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia needs $25,000 annually to operate. This blog network gets over a million unique visitors monthly. If everyone who read gave a dollar? Well, you can do the math.

We are partnering with Pure Charity, and I’m going to tell you more about that on Friday. But for now, know that when you sign up for a free account with them, part of the proceeds of your everyday purchases from thousands of stores (you might have heard of some of them—places like Target and Home Depot) will go to your Pure Charity giving account.

You can then choose to give that money to whatever project you like—like the mamas and babies in our CSP in Ethiopia.

It really is the coolest idea ever, and if we all signed up, this village would have its needed funds in a heartbeat.

More on that in a few days.

When you support this center, you’re not just sustaining the life of an infant, you’re providing a chance for mothers and babies to thrive.

Meet Birtukan and Bethlehem

As a child, Birtukan never knew her real parents. She grew up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood, and in her twenties she left and soon became pregnant by a man who eventually abandoned her and their new baby girl, Bethlehem.

Without any income and little knowledge as to how to be a mom, life seemed hopeless.

That changed when Birtukan joined this CSP. Her and her baby’s physical needs were met, such as food and vitamins, along with their spiritual, emotional, and social needs.

Birtukan was asked how the social activities with other moms in the CSP helps her as a mother. She replied, “The activities that we do help me develop good communication skills, we get to share and hear our life experiences, and I learn friendship, love, and tolerance. We drink coffee together in cultural way, prepare nutritious food for our children, and I get joy and happiness.”

So… what do you all think, friends? Wanna help me bless these fellow mothers? Should we make sure all the Birtukans in this village have a fighting chance?

We all have so much. Let’s walk alongside these women and help them give life to their little ones.

I’ll go in to more detail about Pure Charity on Friday, but for now… Do you have any questions about Compassion? About Child Survival Programs? About our CSP in Ethiopia?

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. I think the local Compassion office is nearby (I’m in the Philippines), I’d love to hopefully drop by their office and see how I can get involved. I used to work with children’s NGOs and I’ve always said how I missed that life. Thanks for this post. Hopefully your visitors give at least a dollar each. 🙂

  2. They are sooo beautiful.

  3. I just signed up last week to sponsor a little girl in Ethiopia through Compassion. My daughters and I have already written her two letters- so this project is something I’m really excited about. We also were assigned a correspondent child in Honduras through Compassion. I am very excited to learn more about the project and help in any way I can. Thanks for letting us know about this opportunity. All the best…xoxo, Erika

  4. Wow! This sounds like an awesome charity! We are hoping to sign up to sponsor a child soon, what a great service they provide.

  5. You are right, right, right. This is seriously cool. I’m thrilled at the idea of a CSP getting their funding within days. (I mean, it could happen in a day, right?!)

  6. Beautiful, beautiful idea, Tsh! I will donate and I’ll be excited to hear updates about the village’s work. I work with disadvantaged mom’s and babe’s, so their needs and strengths are in my heart and mind always. 🙂

  7. Compassion is one of my favorite charities. This is a great idea.

  8. I’m in! This so resonates with how I’m growing and stretching right now!

    • Awesome! I love how Shaun Groves describes what he does: “Connecting the first world to the third world for the betterment of both.” I completely feel like I’ve been just as blessed by being part of Compassion.

  9. Question: Is their a religious education/evangelical piece to the work/CSP? Just needed to know because that would influence my giving. Sounds like a truly amazing program!

    • Good question. Compassion’s tagline is “Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name,” so it definitely has that aspect to it. When families are part of Compassion, they receive a Bible and learn about the teachings of Christ. HOWEVER—there’s no requirement to believe or agree with what the Bible says, nor are they required to attend a church. They simply bless families in the community with no strings attached. Does that help answer your question? Let me know if you have more specific questions or feedback. I could also get Shaun Groves over here to answer stuff…

      • Thanks! That’s exactly the information I needed. Thank you so much for using your blog as a way for all of us to help others!

  10. I love this! As a momma to two kiddos from Ethiopia I am so excited to see this project here-thank you!

  11. Tsh, I love how you’re rallying this network of moms to support another network of moms. And I especially love how this is not just handing out help, but offering tools that last beyond dollars. I’ll be spreading the word. Glad to know about Pure Charity too!

  12. This sounds wonderful! I signed up for Pure Charity while at the Allume conference. What a great way to bring together several opportunities, blogging, charitable spending, great needs and Mamma’s! I look forward to reading more!

  13. This is beautiful! I shop at Target frequently, so I will definitely sign-up to back this project. Thank you for sharing so much of your heart, soul and passion in your blogging work.

    • I do, too—it’s pretty much a no-brainer because it doesn’t really ask me to do anything extra, except for maybe a click or two. Our purchases will cost exactly the same, but a percentage will go to our giving fund! Pretty amazing of these major companies to get involved.

  14. I am so excited for this! And that you are partnering with pure charity for it! Awesome!

  15. I like this idea too. We sponsor a child through compassion and have friends who live in Addis Ababa : ) I do have a question about Pure Charity though- Do in-store purchases made through their sponsors give a percentage back or only online purchases?

    • There are a few participating stores, but not a lot—each store has to sign up individually right now, so it depends on if your local store is one of them. Pure Charity is working tirelessly to get more and more signed up… One thing I’m doing right now with our home renovations is buying our supplies from Home Depot and Lowe’s website and then selecting in-store pickup. That way, Pure Charity can definitely get a kick-back.

      I’ll talk more about Pure Charity on Friday, so maybe that’ll help clarify?

  16. So excited to see this post — I signed up and plan to start helping this village tonight! Thank you for sharing.

  17. Tsh,

    is “backing the project” the same as simply donating money? or are there different things involved when you are a “backer”? I own a small house cleaning service in the Phoenix area, and as a momma to two little men, I’m very passionate about clean homes and healthy kids…this is definitely something that I want to be a part of!
    you mentioned more details coming on Friday, so I will wait for that post to see if it answers these questions, but just in case…I wanted to ask you directly 🙂

    what an awesome thing to be a part of!

    • How your business might get involved is a question for the Pure Charity people, and I’ll let them answer that. But yes, “backing” the project is the same thing as supporting it—financially, but spreading the word, by generally caring. I’ll go into more details on Friday, and feel free to ask a million questions then. 🙂

  18. For the last ten years or so, my mother has asked my family to give or serve in some way for her Christmas gift. Usually by now, we’ve done so. Not this year. I’ve had several ideas, but when I opened your post, I knew this was it.

    So excited to learn more!

  19. We sponsor through Compassion, too, and I’m familiar with the Child Survival Program. But I didn’t know there was a way to specify which area of the world those funds go to. I thought when you donated to the Survival Program, all the funds went into one big pool. How do you designate a particular program, apart from the Pure Charity–like if you want to donate directly to Compassion for this program?

  20. This is fantastic! I was excited to see how this network can be used for SO much good for some other mums and babies. I know how much I benefit from getting together and learning with other mums, I want to make sure that can happen there too.

    Thanks for the heads up, and I’m looking forward to reading more about Pure Charity on Friday. =)

  21. I love this Tsh! Literally made me smile ear to ear. Three of our sponsored kids are in Ethiopia and it’s really close to my heart. Can’t wait to see what God does here. I want to help too!

  22. That’s awesome!! Ohh . . . my heart aches and longs to go back to Ethiopia one day (or adopt from there). I spent 2 1/2 months there when I was 19, working with an orphanage and with the underground church (the country was still under communist rule back then. Think: guys with machine guns all around town – guarding places). I fell in love with the country, the people and especially the kids. And after experiencing one of their coffee ceremonies (when I didn’t like coffee) – I came back to the states and found out that coffee here actually does taste good! 🙂
    Oh . . . and injera . . . mmmm . . . Haven’t had that in over 20 years!
    Thanks for sharing about this project. I will look into it more! What a great thing they seem to be doing for these mamas and kids!

  23. Just curious–is there a way to give without going through Pure Charity? I’m not necessarily against it, but I wanted to know my options! Thanks!

    • Not specifically to our CSP in Ethiopia, no. But you can just give money directly to the CSP without having to spend money at a store. You can head here and click on “Fund This Project” to give money directly. It all goes to the CSP.

      • Lorri Martin says:

        Hi Tsh,
        I’m trying to just give directly to the CSP by clicking on “Fund This Project” at the link you provided about, but I don’t seem to be getting anywhere. Not sure where to go from here. Will you give more instruction later?
        Thanks, Lorri
        By the way, this is a great idea!! Thanks for putting this out there.

  24. This is just a beautiful idea. I LOVE it. You are inspiring me to use my (much smaller, but still) influence for good, to the best of my ability. Thank-you! We also sponsor two Compassion kids – one in Philippines and one in Tanzania (where hubby and I lived for several months). I believe so strongly in this organization, and am really, really glad to see you working with them. We don’t have a lot of extra money in our family right now, but I hope that we can give even a little bit – I know that God will bless whatever we can do! Thanks for this, Tsh. I love it.

  25. brooke wagen says:

    we are in!!!!

  26. Love this!

  27. This may have already been answered, but… will we be able to just give without shopping? I would like to donate, but I don’t typically shop online. Thoughts?

  28. Rebecca Park says:

    This is great. I am half Ethiopian my Dad was born and raised in Addis Ababa. My first child was stillborn something that happens to mothers in developing countries so much more often than necessary. Every year at Christmas I try and donate to an organization helping mothers have healthy babies in memory of my first daughter Maggie. What a great gift for this year and years to come. Thanks Tsh.

  29. Since CSP works directly with mothers and infants, can you tell me about, or direct me to where I can learn about what they do to support breastfeeding among these mothers? What is their policy on artificial baby milk? Do they have a program in place to help these mothers to successfully breastfeed, and for those babies who do not have access to the breast, is there an education program in place to teach caregivers how to safely handle artificial baby milk?

    • I can find out more details, but for now, if you watch the video on the CSP’s page, the woman (I think maybe the director of this CSP?) mentions that they the teach the importance of—and how—to breastfeed.

  30. Tsh, I think this is a wonderful idea! It’s so bonding and community-oriented, and a great way for moms to help other moms. Being home raising my own little ones, it really gets me where it counts to think of other mothers struggling to keep their kids healthy and safe. Thanks for doing this. I am proud to bed apart of this community.

  31. LOVE THIS. What an amazing way to use your platform, Tsh. I am thrilled.

  32. I love you more and more every day 🙂 What a wonderful thing you are doing here!

  33. Why must we have so many questions answered before we simply “give”? I don’t get it. Tsh, you are way more patient than I. We’re not talking about thousands of dollars here. And what if it’s not all about Jesus for them? If it’s all about Jesus for you (as it is for me) than why does there need to be strings attached? Can’t we give out of the goodness of our hearts without worrying about if these mommies are being encouraged to only breast feed? Remember that Jesus said when we are giving to these least of these, who we are giving to. HIM.

  34. I think this is a really neat idea, and Compassion has such a heart for ministering to those in need. However, since Tsh asked for questions about the program, it seems a bit unfair to criticize those who are indeed asking questions. Yes, when we give, we do give back to the Lord, but it is His money. From a stewardship perspective, it’s wise to consider to whom and the method by which the money is going, and how efficiently it will be used for Kingdom purposes. For our family, we only give to charities that are expressly Christian, approved by the ECFA, and have a decent rating on Charity Navigator. The issue of moms breastfeeding (and improperly using formula) is often in fact a life-and-death situation in developing nations- while that may not be a dealbreaker for me toward giving, it doesn’t mean that it’s not a good question to ask. Indeed, we are talking about tens of thousands of dollars for this program ($25,000 annually), and the greater the amount of openness and clarity we can have about how those funds are used, the better.

  35. How can I give to the CSP without going through Pure Charity? I’m not planning on doing any online shopping soon…funds are limited and I’m about done with Christmas shopping. However, I would like to give a few dollars. I clicked “Back This Up,” expecting to find a place where I could donate after I set up an account, but I’m not seeing that option. Thanks!

  36. Done! I love this Pure Charity site! What an easy way to give! Thank you for sharing this opportunity. I read your post with my 6 year old daughter and before I could finish she was interrupting me telling me we should help them. It was a wonderful moment brought to us by you, thanks!

  37. Thank you for sharing this giving opportunity with me. I will check it out.

  38. Verdie Curtin says:

    I’m about done with Christmas shopping.


  39. Great work tsh! love you!

  40. Oh my goodness I love this! I am an international trip leader for Compassion International and I’m headed to Woliso, Ethiopia in a week with a team! We will likely be visiting the CSP you mention here! While looking up images of the area I came across pictures from this blog and saw it was your blog! I’ve been following you for a bit and can’t wait to follow your round the world trip! I just messaged you through the blog too but I know you are CRAZY busy right now 🙂

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