Changing Lives In Ethiopia With Eggs From South Dakota
"He has a big heart even though he's just a little guy..."
Think back to when you were about 10 years old… what were you doing?
Maybe you were hanging out with friends, watching TV, soon to be enjoying the summer. For one little boy, he’s spent the last two years changing lives on the other side of the world.
It’s almost 8,000 miles from the Canton area in South Dakota, to Wuchale, Ethiopia. While it may be on the other side of the world, for Biruk Van De Stroet that distance isn’t keeping him from helping those less fortunate.
“You’re never too little or too big to start a project.”
Before he was adopted, Biruk lived in Wuchale, Ethiopia, with his brother Tadesse and his mother Alem.
“My mom usually do some chores and that stuff to earn some money. Me and my brother, we’d be playing with friends,” said Biruk Van De Stroet. He also says that sometimes his brother would do chores as well and split the money that he made in half with Biruk. He says sometimes his family would also look for money on the ground. They would find what they could so that they could buy food, which was usually bread.
“I didn’t really like it but it was fun… [more fun] than going to school,” Biruk said, giggling. But, because of poor living conditions and not being able to properly be able to provide for Biruk and his brother, Alem made the difficult decision to put them up for adoption. And in 2013, Jerome and Tami Van De Stroet welcomed Biruk and Tadesse into their family.
“We just felt a call on our hearts,” explained Tami Van De Stroet. “We’ve been to Haiti before and visited orphanages down there and we just felt a draw to Ethiopia.”
And when Biruk’s english got better, he asked for something.
“He asked for a few chickens because that’s something he was familiar with from Ethiopia; it was pretty normal to have some chickens and he asked for eight,” says Tami Van De Stroet, Biruk’s adopted mother.
Tami said that her husband, Jerome, who is a farmer, thought that eight chickens might be a lot of work but fifty or sixty wouldn’t be that much more work. Instead of eight, fifty or sixty, Biruk got one hundred chickens.
Over time, those one hundred chickens grew to four hundred. Each one laying over 500 eggs over a lifetime. And the 10 year old had a plan for each one of those eggs.
“Biruk said, ‘I want to send it back to Ethiopia to the kids that are like me.’ Who didn’t have enough money to eat and things like that so have food and clothing,” explained Tami Van De Stroet.
Thus, Biruk’s Egg Project was hatched.
“Alright, just put it in there anyways.”
They collect freshly laid eggs.
“Have you ever heard people say, ‘When you have chickens you get kinda addicted to farming’? Who knew?!”
Which lead them to create a subscription service, “We started delivering eggs to Canton just accepting donations for them and we’ve expanded, expanded, expanded cause we keep running out of eggs because people keep supporting us,” said Tami Van De Stroet, Biruk’s adopted mother.
Because of the support, Biruk’s Egg Project deliver eggs to the Sioux Falls area as well with 100 percent of the donations going to the Wuchale village.
“In Biruk’s village of Wuchale, they didn’t really have any major relief organizations working there so we found a mission,” Tami Van De Stroet explained.
And over the course of a year to a year and a half, Biruk’s Egg Project has raise and sent back nearly $41,000.
“Right now the project supports 25 kids; sends them to school, gives medical care and food, a food allowance,” Tami Van De Stroet, Biruk’s adopted mother, explained.
Because of one little boys project and big heart, he gets to see what a dozen eggs or so can do, “I’m really exicted when we get new photos of them dressing up like in their new clothes and that stuff,” said Biruk Van De Stroet, smiling.
“The kids, every time we get a new picture of the kids, they look to see if they know them… they haven’t found anybody they know yet,” says Tami Van De Stroet.
“Do you want to hand them to me and I’ll put them in?”
“He has a big heart even though he’s just a little guy,” Tami Van De Stroet said, laughing, “even though he doesn’t like to be called a little guy… but he has a big heart for other people.”
Since they don’t technically sell the eggs, donations can vary from a couple bucks to 5 dollars for every dozen eggs. Tami says that because reception from the surrounding area has been so good there’s now a waiting list for people who want some of Burik’s eggs.
If you’d like to make a donation or get on the list to receive eggs, you can like Biruk’s Egg Project.