We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Simon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
Our organization operates in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and seeks to free children from poverty by supporting their academic, physical and spiritual development. The pandemic exacerbated the challenges that the families we serve were already facing so this work became more important than ever. A year ago, our organization added an Income Generation Program for the parents/guardians of the children we serve. This program enables parents/guardians to start or grow a small business by providing financial access as well as basic business skills training.
Elshadai Child Development Inc. has had a tremendous impact on the community in which it serves. Our relief and developmental efforts are empowering children and their families to break the poverty cycle and raise up their own community.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am incredibly proud of where Elshadai is today. Over 200 children and their families are currently being supported and empowered to reach their full potential. Dozens of other children have graduated or completed technical or trade skills training so that they can become self-sustaining. In my experience, anything that makes lasting changes in people’s lives doesn’t come easy. I don’t think anything about starting or running a nonprofit is easy. Overcoming challenges for me has required growth in patience and perseverance as well as grit.
Another key ingredient to success in nonprofit work is being ready to learn and listen from beneficiaries. Elshadai Child Development really grew out of the needs of the children in the particular community in which we serve. The needs were observed and then discussed with parents/guardians to create a program that met those specific needs. The relationships with beneficiaries and the trust that is built between all parties involved is of the utmost importance.
Lastly, I would say that I had to let go of my perfectionistic tendencies to be successful at my role. What’s most important is freeing children from poverty; allowing them to dream and have hope for their future. And although I know we don’t do everything perfectly, the staff of Elshadai are committed to fighting the good fight. I think our success has been the result of our commitment to the God-given vision from which we began.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Colorado Springs and love the outdoors here. There are so many amazing hikes west of the city but also within it! Pulpit Rock and Palmer Park are a couple of my favorite places to walk around with a friend and a coffee. Located downtown in a beautiful old church, Carter Payne is the perfect place to spend an evening of good food and wine.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Elshadai Child Development was not my idea. I felt God leading me to do something about the poverty I observed on a short-term mission trip to Ethiopia in 2008 after finishing my post-graduate studies. Through that experience, I got connected with a women whose heart it was to serve the most vulnerable in her community. After sharing the heart and vision of supporting children in Ethiopia with their basic needs and access to education with friends and family in the US, Adanech and I started what would later become Elshadai Child Development. Also, I would like to give a big shoutout to all of the amazing sponsors and donors over the years that have supported this organization with so much generosity. It would not have been possible without them.