Chicken Hatchery

Putting Down Roots


This year's “Permanently His Campaign” has me thinking a lot about our work in Ethiopia. More specifically, I've been thinking about  the Kota Ganate Agriculture Project - something we started almost six years ago - because permanency is what this project is all about. Where we're from, “putting down roots” means to establish yourself permanently somewhere - to make a place your home. You make friends there, make a home there, start a family there - you become part of the place just as much as the place becomes a part of you.

I guess you could say my family and I have put down roots in Ethiopia in more ways than one. With Kota Ganate we're “putting down roots” for a generation of children who desperately need the permanency TFC provides, children like Abel, Sossina, and Metu.

Kota Ganate provides long-term sustainability to ensure these kids and many others will find the permanency they need.


Apple farm

Chicken hatchery collage


As we literally put down roots with each crop we plant, pray with us for God to deepen our financial roots through Kota Ganate so we can continue to offer street children in Ethiopia the chance to become Permanently His

Mama and Daddy Birds

I am happy to report we have a very important flock of chickens at Kota Ganate right now. These chickens will be the parent stock for the hatchery we have been developing for several years. We received this flock at the end of June just after they hatched. For those of you who aren't in the poultry biz, parent stock are the chickens that lay the eggs which are then hatched to produce chicks for the hatchery. They are the mama and daddy birds, if you will.

By the end of the year, we will be able to start hatching chicks ourselves and selling them to local farmers! Our short-term goal is to hatch 1000 chicks per month. Then we will quickly increase our production throughout next year. Each chick sold will produce 75 cents in income for Onesimus (each chick bought and raised by a farmer will produce significant income for him and his family as well, helping the local economy).

Early next year we will actually be producing a profit at the Kota Ganate Hatchery!  As we increase production, all of the profits will help fund Onesimus' ministries to children living on the streets. I'm excited about that - how about you?


A new flock of parent birds


toothbrush in pocket


Finally, I want to thank those of you who have been praying for me. For two months I've been struggling with a knee injury, which has kept me confined in my house for the majority of the time.


Here's a look at Jonathan's swollen


Despite being unable to do much myself, the work on the Kota Ganate Agriculture Project has continued. It is a good reminder that this is God's work, not my own. Please continue to pray for me as my knee is still weak.

Farm Life in Chencha

Farm Life in Chencha

People often shutter when we mention our living conditions in Chencha; no running water, pit latrine for bathroom, electricity most of the time, internet if we’re lucky, and a lack of most modern conveniences.

On the Farm Update #3 - Chickens


Although apples were the idea that sparked the project initially, poultry has now taken a leading role in our plans for the farm. It is actually a dual strategy, a one-two punch, if you will. Apples are a long-term sustainability strategy, requiring about 5 years to produce significant income. Chickens, on the other hand, are our short-term strategy. Poultry production is the only thing that promises sufficient profit to make sustainability in the near future a possibility.

This is why the Chicks for Change Campaign was so important over the past year. Due to the funds generated through that campaign, we have the potential to generate enough income within the coming year to make the farm itself self-sustained.

Shortly thereafter, the farm will realize the goal of pumping money into the larger organization in support of all of Onesimus' projects. The Chicks for Change designation will remain open on our website for those who wish to continue to give. So don't put those change jars away just yet! Additional funds that are designated to Chicks for Change will go toward much needed operating expenses.

New Hatchery Building

Back of the hatchery building

Dawit checking on the chickens

Adamasu monitoring the incubator

Aregahegn with chicks

Chickens all grown up

Local chick

Tarekegn loading the incubator

Me checking the incubator


To learn more about the farm, read On the Farm Update #1 – Welcome to the Farm and On the Farm Update #2 - Apples.

To support the farmers, donate here.

On The Farm Update #1 - Welcome to the Farm


Cow Grazing in the Mist We've drifted into the new year here in Ethiopia. The celebrations are over now, and we are settling into the pace of life in 2005. (That's not a typo - the Ethiopian calender is about 7.5 years behind the Western calender). The rains should stop this week, which signals a time of wait and watch as crops which were planted during krempt (the rainy season) grow to maturity. The end of the year is a busy time for farmers in Chencha. The month of Nahase (August for us) is the time to plow and plant a second round of crops. It is known as the month of “goom” (fog). The rains subside a bit, but, being perched at the top of a mountain, we are consumed by a heavy, misty fog off and on throughout each day as clouds drift by. Nahase was a busy time on our little farm, known officially as “Children, Community Strengthening and Income Generation” project (or CCSIG) - even the acronym is hard to say. We simply call it Kota Ganate (KG), which means “Hidden Garden”, and that is what it is.


The sign and main gate to the farm

When you turn off of the rutted, muddy road and enter the gates, you are welcomed by green grass, flowers, young apple seedlings and fertile beds of vegetables. Some days you may catch the community children playing soccer in our small field. The staff will offer you a seat and some tea in the sunshine just outside the office. As you wander through the site, you'll pass the apples to your right and the poultry compound to your left, with lots of noisy chickens inside clucking away.


Our house and the rest of the farm


On the way down the hill, you'll find my little house, where we love visits -partly for the visit, partly because it makes a good excuse to have a coffee ceremony. After my house are rows and rows of vegetables: potatoes, cabbage, garlic, onion, beets and carrots. Past those, on the far side of the property, you'll find women and children cutting the lush green hay to take home to their cows.



This is the first in a series of updates about our “Hidden Garden”. As we worked through the month of Nahase, I tried to capture everything on film so you can see for yourselves how far we've come.


The Office


The Office - Backside


Aster - Secretary


The KG Staff


Aregahegn - Assistant Coordinator


Tarekegn - Project Coordinator

Tarekegn running with the kids.


The new road


Working on the road

The front door to our house.


I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of the farm. Stay tuned. In the coming weeks I will show you some of the different things we are working on.

K-Kids Part II


  By Randall Johnson

K-Kids, a group of select 2nd through 4th graders at Germantown Elementary school who have joined with the Kiwanis Club to serve underserved children, presented Heather McGugan of The Forsaken Children with a check for $1,800 on Friday, May 18.  This was the culmination of their work to promote "Chicks For Change" and raise money for the chicken hatchery in Chencha, Ethiopia, that our own Jon and Jess Bridges have started.


The purpose of this hatchery is to provide sustainable support for our partners in Ethiopia who work with at-risk children.  So it is a perfect match with the stated purpose of the Kiwanis Club and for the K-Kids group at Germantown Elementary school.


The children went above and beyond expectations and brought great joy to Ms. Jordan and Ms. Feathers, their sponsors for K-Kids.  Ms. Feathers is Nicci Feathers, who has been to Onesimus, our partner in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and worked with our children there.  She is planning on returning in June with a team from Central Church.



We are very grateful to the K-Kids group at Germantown Elementary and say thank you on behalf of the children of Ethiopia who will be beneficiaries of this generosity.  Together, we can make a difference.


Two Worlds Collide


The minute I left Ethiopia last June, I began praying for God to show me every way possible I could advocate for the children I loved so dearly from thousands of miles away. I wanted everyone I knew and loved at "home" to love and care about the children the way I did. I shared stories with anyone who would listen. I longed for everyone to understand the great need that was in Ethiopia, even if their own eyes had not witnessed it. Some listened. Some did not. But, God continuously poured opportunities into my lap.

One of those opportunities was sharing in a place I least expected. As a public school teacher, I never dreamed that I would be able to share my stories with the children at school.  Luckily, God had things planned long before I ever traveled to Ethiopia.

In August of 2010, I became co-sponsor of our school's service club, Kiwanis' K-kids.  This club participates in a variety of service activities on a local, state, national, and international level. So, because of God's amazing provision, I was able to introduce the children in Ethiopia to a group of 50 4th and 5th graders here at home, sharing ways that they could help them!  I can't describe the way my heart swells to watch the kids I love here working and serving the kids I love all the way across the world. It is humbling, in fact, to know that God wanted this!

In October, I was able to share photographs and stories, and it was heartwarming to answer their questions and share with them how different things are in other places for children their age. Then, as a club, we decided to participate in the Chicks for Change campaign. They were so thrilled!  We collected empty milk jugs from the local Starbucks to use as our containers. Then the kids started collecting their change!




Also, our K-kids hosted a school-wide Chicks for Change campaign. Letters went home with over 800 students about Chicks for Change and its goal. Eight hundred new families learned about TFC and the work that is taking place in Ethiopia. God is so good. All week I watched as the change poured in! Each day the number grew and I thanked God for His provision and sovereignty.

Truthfully, I am overwhelmed by the way God has provided in allowing my two worlds to collide. I pray that He will continue to allow me to advocate for the children I love so. Listening and watching my students' excitement about being involved is absolutely amazing. Giving back is a good lesson for someone of any age, and, as they give to the children in Ethiopia, my students receive an invaluable lesson. My prayer is that God will continue providing ways for hundreds of people to learn about and support The Forsaken Children. Truthfully, I never dreamed that my students here would be able to help serve the children in Ethiopia. But, God allowed it and the GES Kiwanis K-kids were able to raise $1,828.38 for the Chicks for Change campaign. To God be the glory!

"'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then, the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" Matthew 25:35-40

The 2012 change campaign is called Give Me Five.  Your change gives hope!  Please read more here.

Moving on Along


Meeting with the KG crewIt is so exciting to finally be at this point. When we topped the $30,000 mark last month we got the green light to move forward with this project. It seems like we've waited so long for this moment and it is finally here. This month has been really busy. Tarekegn, Kota Ganate's onsite manager, traveled to Addis Ababa and we've spent a lot of time together planning for the ground breaking that should take place in just a few weeks. We have been pricing and purchasing equipment, negotiating with building contractors, and doing lots of planning. Tarekegn and his assistant brought three of their staff to a local agriculture research station to receive training about hatchery operations.

This has all been great, but my favorite part is the tinkering. Of course, some equipment must be purchased, but in order to reduce costs and increase sustainability we have decided to make a few critical pieces ourselves using primarily locally available materials. The first of these are the incubators, hatchers, and brooders.

Brooder - Set up Brooder - Parts View The first creation is a brooder. These are used to keep young chicks warm until their feathers come in. The first picture is in actual use. The second picture shows the working parts, which are a simple heater coil and temperature control. Everything was bought locally except for the temp. controller, which I brought from the US. The temp. controller more than doubled the cost. The next model will be all local and cost less than $20.

Incubator - Initial construction                      Incubator Controls

This is the beginning of the incubator. I contracted a local cabinet maker to build the housing. I just received it on Monday.  Laid out in front are the heater, ventilation fans, and water pan. These are all installed now and testing is underway. Temperature and humidity controls are working like a charm. We are still working out how to get the ventilation and air circulation just right. Then we'll install the egg trays and do a real test.

In just a few days I'll be heading to Chencha to help break ground for the hatchery building. I'll also be bringing 300 chicks with me for a broiler grow-out trial. This trial will give is an opportunity to give our staff extra practical experience, to collect growth and economic data for the area, and to start training some local farmers.

There is so much going on here it's hard to list it all. Suffice it to say that with God's help and yours this project is moving on along in a big way. I am so excited to see what the next few months will bring.