Lovegrove & Cotton maintain their commitment to Hope For Children the Ethiopian H.I.V. N.G.O. Orphanage.
Lovegrove & Cotton provides assistance to the organization Hope for Children (HFC). An article featured in the legal magazine, Law Talk, summarises the plight of impoverished Ethiopian children and the response of HFC. “HFC focuses on helping Ethiopian children affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Today in Ethiopia there are approximately 4.6 million orphan children. The parents of many of these children have died from HIV/AIDS. HFC is dedicated to empowering the most desperate and vulnerable children to live with dignity and develop self-sufficiency and independence.” In achieving this end HFC “has established an orphanage that provides a home and sustenance for some 600 children affected by the epidemic. It also provides a large number of home carers who are domiciled with small groups of children with the view to providing those children with quasi-familial support, kindness and opportunity.”
There are many issues concerning desperate vulnerable children and thus “one of the most critical tasks performed by the organisation is child advocacy.”An article featured in the national newspaper The Australian written by Debbie Guest recognises the support and commitment the firm has given HFC. “The firm has sponsored [Rahel] Berhanu” the HFC lawyer for a number of years. Rahel’s involvement with HFC is critical as she supports and advocates for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Rahel has performed invaluable work in some of the most adverse circumstances. Rahel has to tackle a vast range of issues with her role, from securing the inheritance of orphaned children to helping prosecute criminal acts committed against the children. Kim Lovegrove said, “One example involved [Rahel] Berhanu taking on the case of a nine-year old girl whose mother had died of HIV and whose father was sexually abusing her. Berhanu successfully prosecuted the father and helped find the girl a new adoptive family.” Rahel demonstrated exemplary character and courage to pursue this complaint against the man in question. Kim Lovegrove was quoted in The Australian on point, “Rahel did receive death threats from him (the father) but the fact was, he was ultimately jailed – it’s very, very challenging work, it’s terribly confronting”.
Current progress of HFC
The Ethiopian people are a proud race surviving in some of the world’s harshest conditions. This is a one of the paramount reasons that this type of pro bono work allows for a sense of accomplishment. Lovegrove quoted in The Australian said “underwriting the costs of a legal advocate who will appear in court to protect the fundamental rights of children, like Rahel does, that is a serious endeavour….There is nothing esoteric about it, it’s real and it’s tangible.” happy girl in white.jpgThe strength of character and tenacity of the Ethiopian people shines through vividly as they are placed in some of life’s toughest circumstances. Kalkidan Forward daughter of the HFC founder Jacqui Gilmour, spent her gap year volunteering in Ethiopia for HFC. Kalkidan provides an anecdotal story epitomising the positive outlook of the Ethiopian people. “One little girl, lives on a tiny balcony, the size of a table, outside a home owned by a man who took pity on them, with her mum brother and sister. Even though she has absolutely nothing, Fiker still takes great care to dress neatly in her uniform every day. She is passionate about going to school and learning.”
Lovegrove & Cotton’s Commitment to HFC
The Law firm has a strong philanthropic commitment. Professor Lovegrove’s childhood experiences in Africa have manifested themselves in the firm’s affiliation with HFC and the philanthropic culture of the firm. HFC is making a difference where it counts. This year due to the significant jump in the exchange rate with Ethiopia, HFC has been able to pay “for each child to have a new blanket and for each school age child to have a new uniform, shoes and school books”. As Kim said in The Australian, with this type of endeavour “one is getting a lot of humanitarian bang for one’s buck”.
The Story of a Remarkable Recovery
The story of Brazil, is a compelling tale of recovery made possible by HFC and Lovegrove & Cotton. Brazil had a distended abdomen caused by a HIV tumour. Lovegrove & Cotton undertook to pay AU$350 to place her in the care of the HFC hospice, for antiviral treatment and nutritional support. The tumour has all but disappeared and Brazil has experienced an extraordinary recovery after entering the care and custodianship of HFC. Stories such as Brazil’s are far to infrequent as HFC simply does not have the resources needed to fund all the people suffering under the scourge of HIV/AIDS.
Kim Lovegrove, visited Ethiopia and made a documentary based on the scourge of HIV, and the remarkable work Hope for Children is doing. The aim of the documentary is to bring the plight of these people into the Australian consciousness. TVNZ on the Court Report program recently played a segment of this documentary, and Kim explains why this type of work is so important, and rewarding. As Professor Lovegrove said, “What I find remarkable is that for the cost of a pair of designer sunglasses one can both save and turn a person’s life around and the dividend for humanity is colossal.”