Tamara Lackey, Beautiful Together

An update on Beautiful Together & the Build An Orphan Feeding Kitchen Project

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In February, my husband, Steve, and I flew from Dubai to Ethiopia. Almost immediately upon landing in Africa, we learned of the urgent need for a kitchen in the new feeding center in Korah that Beautiful Together helps to support through our partner organization, Life To Live for Korah, a grassroots feeding program in the village.

More specifics from our project page here:

“Korah is one of the poorest communities in the world, built around a large trash dump that people have used for years to find food and to scrap plastics for money. Originally a small community for lepers, Korah has now grown to over 120,000 people, all within a few miles’ radius.

One month ago, the trash dump was moved away from Korah. This was for a good reason, so new government programs could create energy from the trash. But the removal of the trash dump has been absolutely devastating for the people of Korah, who had depended on the mountains of trash to mine for scraps and food.

Suddenly children and families, who were barely getting by, now have no possible way to generate monies needed to buy the even the smallest portions of food and clean water. And those children without families, those who have relied on relatives and villagers, are now the most vulnerable of all.”

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We immediately set up the Build an Orphan Feeding Kitchen project, and the response was overwhelmingly amazing. In just a few days, we were at 200% of our goal, and that number kept climbing! That enabled us to immediately shop for appliances and fixtures and lock down additional needed items while we were still on the ground in Africa.

And, side note, I also learned that you sometimes have to go to over a dozen stores to find a water filter that you can purchase, since nearly all of them are just for display only. (Who knew?!)

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We also had the opportunity to visit more homes throughout Korah and film some of the conversations we had with people throughout the village. In the video below, I was able to chat with a young widow with two small children in her home. She lives in one of the many “plastic houses,” homes where the walls are simple sheets of plastic, or coverings found from industrial wrappings (like a very large bag of rice).

We learned later that she and her family are receiving support, which is wonderful. There are so very many families like hers, and we would very much like to create an income-generating opportunity for them.

Due to the additional donations—and the imminent food crisis in Korah—we were able to move forward immediately with what was originally considered a longer-term plan. We started making plans to purchase a separate, larger oven that can be used for baking, invest in additional bread-making supplies, and open a small bakery just a few minutes away from the care center. That will (1) allow women in the town to go to work, (2) supply these people some daily food, (3) give a community that currently has no easy way to buy bread a bakery nearby, (4) create an opportunity for these individuals to make money (keep impoverished families together/LESS ORPHANS) that will also be shared with the feeding center … to (5) support more children.

We have also made some great strides in securing distribution connections for roasted coffee. More news to come on that very soon, which includes the emergence of a new coffee shop in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that will have close ties to Beautiful Together.

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We also filmed a tour and walkthrough of the new space that Life to Live for Korah has leased. Check out my conversation with Cherenet, who runs this feeding program in Ethiopia, to see what we started with when setting out to start building a new kitchen. You can see the whole walkthrough of the space in this video:

After we left Ethiopia, things kept progressing quickly in Korah – and the developments have been incredible. Changes included ripping out the blue plastic walls surrounding the rooms, clearing out the ground, laying concrete, and installing clean new flooring in the kitchen.

The biggest shift is that the new kitchen capabilities will allow for more children to be fed every week – and for them to be fed more often.

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Beautiful Together, Tamara Lackey Photography, Korah, Ethiopia, Tamara Lackey

When I got back, I shared this video of this adorable little girl who is just one of the children who is a part of the Feeding Fund that Beautiful Together is grateful to support. I absolutely *love* her incredibly shy smile, her sweet little voice, and what she shares as her favorite food:

If you haven’t seen a lot of these faces, you can check out this short Animoto video describing the program and showing more photographs of the children. And here are the very latest images of the kitchen and the feeding program, starting with a before & after of the kitchen! It’s definitely coming along, which is pretty incredible:   Before and After, Beautiful Together, Tamara Lackey Photography, Korah, Ethiopia, Tamara Lackey Beautiful Together, Tamara Lackey Photography, Korah, Ethiopia, Tamara Lackey Beautiful Together, Tamara Lackey Photography, Korah, Ethiopia, Tamara Lackey

I can’t stress enough how much every donation counts. The Beautiful Together websiteFacebook page, and Twitter account have the most up-to-date project information, and we work hard to keep them all current, including the specific Korah Feeding Kitchen Fund.

Also, we’ve been honored to have various photographers and friends from around the country organize events and give back a percentage directly to Beautiful Together; you can learn more about them by simply scrolling to the bottom of this page. (We have even been able to sell some very cool-looking and great-quality merchandise to support our efforts!) And now there is another great, new way to do something great for yourself and for others:

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Our newest Beautiful Together partnership is with Story First Blogging, blogging templates for the professional photographer. Their process is built to help photographers find the words for each blog post using a system of forms and client questionnaires that you can purchase and use in your photography business. They give back 50% of each sale with the code: BeautifulTogether. Their goal is to help photographers find their client stories with each blog post, and we love how in-line that is with our mission to help families find their stories. They are also quite good at what they do, which doesn’t hurt.

Thank you, Story First Blogging, for caring!

It truly takes a village, and I am so appreciative of the support we receive from all parts of the world, in addition to the encouragement and backing from friends and family. I am looking forward to seeing how these improvements will help not only the orphans but the entire population of Korah.