Friday, September 2, 2016

Korah Sponsorship Graduation

Written by Sponsorship Coordinator, Kelly Blevins: 

On Tuesday, August 26th, Ordinary Hero's first group of Korah Income Generation families took center stage and accomplished a feat that many people in developing countries, as well as those in first world countries dream of doing: starting a business and keeping it profitable for over a year. We couldn't think of a better way to honor these precious families for all of their hard work and determination than by throwing them and a few other income generation family hopefuls a graduation party that they would never forget. 

I was leading our last summer team so we put the gears in motion by ordering 3 cakes, orange Mirinda soda, and gift bags for each of the 4 women who were graduating. I wish during the prep that I had prepared a little speech to give as well since Pastor Tesfaye, the ministry leader, asked me to give one, but one from the heart and off the cuff is generally better anyways. And this one was truly from the heart as one of the women graduating was a lady my family has been sponsoring for 3 years now. 

Meseret Musa has got to be one of the strongest and most fiesty women I know, but this wasn't always her story. When we first met her in 2013, she was shivering and cold, sitting underneath a blue metal roofed church, holding her then 3 year old son with her two older children beside of her. She looked timid, and scared. My husband took one look at her and her children and leaned over to me and whispered "them...let's sponsor them. There is something in her eyes and I think that is who God has picked for us." From that point on, they became our family. We loved her like she was our sister and her children were our own. We saw something in her and began praying for her future and her children's. Little did we know that just 1 year after choosing them Meseret would become a strong, independent woman with a spunk for life! And we certainly never imagined that 2 years after starting sponsorship that she would be selected to draft a business plan, be given the capital to start it up, and then be given a year to make it profitable while sponsorship continued. Now here we are at the 3 year mark and she is a smart business-woman who is making it in this tough world by selling seasonal vegetables and home goods. I recently visited her business and was blown away at the line of people standing there waiting to purchase things. God is so so faithful!! And her story is much like the other 3 women's who graduated on the same day. Zenebech, Abebe, and Workinish are all women who just needed someone to stand in the gap for them through sponsorship, pray for them, and then believe in them as they worked towards their goals. 

Back to the party though... after I delivered my speech of how these women are ALL Ordinary Heroes and that even though sponsorship is ending that they will ALWAYS be part of the OH family, they were called up one by one to receive the gift we had for them...an Ordinary Hero T-Shirt, a letter from their sponsor, and a photo. Completely expecting them to take the bag and sit back down, I was shocked when they ALL put their shirts on right away as everyone clapped in unison.. The guests were genuinely thrilled for these sweet ladies and it continued on as they cut their cakes together and everyone enjoyed this sweet treat along with the soda we brought plus the coffee ceremony which the ministry prepared. There was so much joy in the room we were in that it radiated from everywhere!



As the party ended, the ladies met with me and Pastor Tesfaye for a little pep talk about what would be happening over the next few months as sponsorship phases out. They all are very ready and appeared excited. I just say watch out world - these ladies are fierce, they are smart, they love God, and they are on a mission to grow their businesses - and I couldn't be any more proud of them! Betam gobez ladies, betam gobez!







Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reut's Story: The Goal Is Love

Written by field director, Lincoln Vallett: 

Reut has had to overcome many obstacles in her life. Her parents passed away at a young age. After that she spent some time with an emotionally abusive relative before entering and growing up in an orphanage. If you met her on the streets of Addis Ababa you wouldn't guess that though. You would see a sweet and loving young woman in fashionable clothes that fits in with the rest of Addis' rising generation.
 
When I met Reut 8 months ago she was helping some friends get registered for college. She told me her story and how she was learning to become a nurse. She was about to graduate from another non-profit program but was not ready or qualified for the work field.
 
I asked her former program director if she could be entered into our program and he graciously gave me permission on behalf of his organization.
 
After that Reut entered into the Addis Ababa program of our partner, Talita Rise Up, living in an apartment with another young woman who had a similar story. From there she was able to focus on growing personally and finishing her education.
 
A month ago, Reut completed her nursing education and wasted no time going on the job hunt. Within 3 weeks she had taken a job at a day care. Now she is out and living her life on her own, as she says she has wanted for a long time.
 
But to just focus on these physical accomplishments would only be a small part of the full picture.
 
In the half year that she was in our program, I watched her become transformed by love. She gained many friends, mentors, and a family through her time with Talita Rise Up. When I asked her about her time in the program she said, "The most special part about the Talita program was love. They became like my family."
 
When I asked her where she grew the most in the last year she said, "In my knowledge of God. I learned that I can depend on God for all things." During her time in the program she received the gospel of Jesus Christ and got plugged into a church where she is regularly attending services and a bible study.
 
She is also grateful for the person who through support, empowered her to grow to where she is. About her sponsor she said, "I love her. When I think about her I think about the good heart that she has."
 
Though we have seen success in her steps to independence, something much more important has happened for Reut. She has grown in her faith, her confidence, and her own love. All this has come through the love she has received.
 
Physical support is nothing if it's not given with love.
 
And though Reut is more independent, she is not on her own. She has a family now, and families don't just forget their kids when they leave or "graduate". They stick by them, look after them.
 
Independence is not the goal. Love and life change is the goal. And in that we all have something to celebrate in Reut's story.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sponsorship Is More Than Money. It's Love.

Written by team member, Shannon Collins:

Awhile back Lincoln, Ordinary Hero's field director, shared a story with me about a girl named Etenesh. The story took my breath away. It was harder to hear than any story I have ever heard. I spent days thinking about his words and this girl across the ocean. She needed a sponsor and I knew our family would help. Mark and I talked about her and decided that we would commit to sponsoring Etenesh. We have six children and already sponsor a family in Korah, but we just could not let this girl go.

In June, I traveled to Ethiopia with Ordinary Hero and met Etenesh for the first time. My children, Macall, Brynn and Hudson, all got the chance to meet her too. We spent special time with her. We were able to spend time with her amazing foster family. They have poured love into her and helped her heal. At first Etenesh was timid, but she soon opened up and danced with my girls as they sang Taylor Swift songs in the backseat of the car. Before long, she was sticking her tongue out for pictures and having so much fun.




She would reach for our hand as the trust merged between us. She went to church with us. Etenesh had been hurt and spent many months recovering from surgeries and this was the first time to church in a long time.  

We spent an evening in her apartment being prayed over by a friend. It was a holy night and one that we will never forget. All of these experiences connected us. Saying good-bye to Etenesh that last day was difficult. She holds a piece of my heart. We know God has amazing plans for her life as He promises in Jeremiah 29:11. We will walk each step with her!


I urge others to sponsor a child or family. It is an amazing opportunity to open your heart, give hope to someone and be stretched in an incredible way. If you would like to sponsor a child through Ordinary Hero, you can email kblevins@ordinaryhero.org to do so. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How To Change the World With Us



“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

From Founder, Kelly Putty:

I believe all of us want to see change in the world. Change in the lives of the hurting and the forgotten, the hungry and the orphaned. Some of us may even have names and faces that come to mind. But in order to see real change, the change has to start with us. We at Ordinary Hero believe in the importance and power of one life, and I personally want to invite you on a journey with us to continue changing the world for one life at a time.

If you have followed along with Ordinary Hero the past year, you have seen some amazing miracles taking place in the lives that we are blessed to be a part of and serve in Ethiopia. The number of families sponsored across our communities has more than doubled in the past year, impacting thousands of lives on a monthly basis. 

We have reached a huge plateau of need that surrounds us and those we serve. But with the need comes lots of opportunity, and with opportunity comes a chance for all of us to link arms in partnership.

So what is the solution for this need? Monthly Change Partners (and free gifts)

We have re-named our monthly donors to 'Change Partners' and the reason is simple: monthly donors are the reason we get to see change through Ordinary Hero. Every month, our Change Partners receive an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the stories unfolding in Ethiopia that they are making possible.

Our goal is to raise $10,000 in additional monthly support. For all that choose to join us this month in a one-year commitment, we have created many perks to show our appreciation.


Become a Change Partner Today and Receive….


Level 1 - (100 People Needed)

Give $25/month and receive…

Exclusive link to our recently premiered documentary, Ordinary.

1 Ticket to our annual CTWFO Event 

Level 2 - (50 People Needed)

Give $50/month and receive…

Exclusive link to our recently premiered documentary, Ordinary.

2 Tickets to our annual CTWFO Event


Level 3 - (25 People Needed)

Give $100/month and receive…

Exclusive link to our recently premiered documentary, Ordinary.

4 Tickets to our annual CTWFO Event

Level 4 - (10 People Needed)

Give $250/month and receive…

Exclusive link to our recently premiered documentary, Ordinary.

10 Tickets (One Table) at our annual CTWFO Event



As we mentioned, every single person that signs up as a Change Partner this month receives an exclusive link to our brand new documentary, Ordinary. This documentary captures our family's summer in Ethiopia, and all that we experienced in an effort to serve those in need in Ethiopia. It also captures the emotional reunion of our adopted son, Nathan, and his mother. This film is the very heartbeat of what we do, and we would love to share it with you.

video

If video is not working, click HERE


So what is the change we're aiming to create? 


We want to see hope for the hopeless, love for the unloved, food for the hungry, friends for the lonely, Christ for the lost, and a future for the orphan. 


We will continue to strive to make this a reality in the communities we serve in Ethiopia!

To Become a Change Partner Today, click HERE
For more information about our CTWFO 2016 Event, click HERE

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. I can't thank you enough for your continued support and partnership with us. Together, we can change the world.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Finding Hope In Korah

As many of you know, the Ethiopian government recently shut down the city’s trash dump and relocated it outside of the city. Though it’s hard to fathom, this relocation has impacted thousands of people who relied on the dump for food or recyclable materials. Many are now begging. The amount of hardship that these people have endured, in addition to their already difficult circumstances, is devastating. 




Our ministry leader in Korah, Tesfaye, said that he has never faced anything like this in all his years of ministry. He told us that the day it shut down, he had families lined up at his gate  pleading for help.

But we believe that there is always hope. Focusing on the problem in it’s entirety makes it seem too difficult to make a difference, but when we focus on one life at a time, we begin to see light in the midst of the darkness. We begin to see real people and real lives. As a result, we start to see change.

Since hearing about the relocation two weeks ago, we have been able to meet many immediate needs through Tesfaye’s ministry through a relief fund and through sponsorship. Within one week, 48 families that were directly affected by the closing of the dump received enough wheat, macaroni, oil and soap to sustain them for the next few months. Our field director and a few of our team members were able to be there and assist with distribution.






Of those 48 families assisted, we have been able to place the 22 families pictured below with sponsors that will support their needs monthly. 

Focusing on changing the world one life at a time is not just a good strategy, it is the ONLY strategy. Among the thousands are mothers that want to feed their children, boys that want to go to school, girls that want a place to call home, and people that want a hope and a future. Through your support, hope was found in Korah for countless lives.



When families that survive from day to day because of a trash dump have that taken away from them, it’s hard for us to understand how good could come from such hardship and despair. But God sees the whole picture. He knew that in fact these very lives would now be able to see a future past the dump. We are lucky to play a part in these beautiful people’s lives. They matter to us, and they matter to God. 

We are still looking to match remaining families with sponsors. If you would like to become a sponsor for one of the remaining families needing immediate assistance in Korah, please email kblevins@ordinaryhero.org. Among the waiting families is the one pictured below, featuring 10 year old Brikayu and her family.


Brikayu Menayu is 10 years old and lives with her mother and 2 little brothers, Mabratu, 5 years old, and Melkam, 11 months old. Brikayu never started school because they were unable to afford it. With sponsorship, she will be able to begin in the fall.

She says some of her favorite things are: playing on swings with her friends, eating noodles, and the color green.

Brikayu's mother is 27 year old Adadet Shetu. She worked in the trash dump prior to its closing but is now begging at night. Medically, she reports having a history of epilepsy but the children are all healthy.

Email kblevins@ordinaryhero.org to sponsor Brikayu and her family today.


#ChangeTheWorldForOne

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Trip to Ethiopia Through A Child's Eyes

This guest blog was written by a very special 9 year old girl that got the chance to travel to Ethiopia on an Ordinary Hero trip with her momma, our Sponsorship Coordinator. We hope this inspires you to involve your children in the different works God is doing around the world, both locally and abroad!
This summer I went to Ethiopia with my mom and dad for two reasons. We went to adopt my baby brother, Bissy, and to do missionary work with Ordinary Hero. I had a fun time while I was there for a month, but there were also parts that made me sad.
My favorite thing we did with our mission team was visiting people at their houses on Entoto Mountain and in Korah. I liked doing this because I got the chance to see how other families live. Their houses were very different than mine. First, they were made of mud and straw, or plastic instead of bricks. They also didn’t have lights or windows like mine does and it was very dark in the homes. A sad part though was that lots of people live in a very small house and most of them sleep on the ground. They didn’t even have a bed or mattress for everyone to sleep on.
 Entoto Mountain is one place we visited a lot. It was really fun and I liked playing with all of the kids. I even got to see my friend Meki who stayed at my house for 2 months last winter. She came to America with my mommy for heart surgery. She is like a sister to me and I have missed her a lot. I also got to finally meet my brother who we have sponsored for two years. He gave me a big hug and was happy to meet me. He doesn’t have parents like I do so my parents are like his.


I was really surprised at how tall Entoto Mountain is and that the kids have to walk up and down the mountain to go to school everyday. My mommy drives me and my brother to school and I am thankful.

             

When we were on Entoto, we played with the kids at the feeding program. Some of the games we played were hopscotch and I taught them how to play it the American way. We also did jump rope, gymnastics, and played soccer. The kids are really good at soccer. When it was time for the kids to eat I noticed they all went into the building and sat down. The food was passed out and they ate it really fast. We eat 3 meals every day and the kids there only get one meal every day if they don’t have a sponsor. But the kids there were all very happy and playful and having fun no matter what.
 Another place I liked was Hope for the Hopeless. The girls there wanted to play with my hair and put it in braids. It was really pretty. I liked their room a lot because it was decorated in Bible verses and crafts they had made. It was lots of fun to hang out with them. They love taking pictures and laughing just like I do!
One thing that I learned is that the people I met seemed happy even though they had so little. My mom says its because they have Jesus and that is all anyone really needs. I think so too. My one wish for everyone in Ethiopia is to get the things they need to live and be healthy.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ordinary Hero's Christmas in Ethiopia

Ethiopia celebrates their Christmas holiday on January 7th. It is typically a day filled with family, feasts, worship, and play. This year was a special year, as we got to bless families and children within our programs with a special holiday meal as a result of your gifts during our #GivingTuesday Campaign.

One of our ministry leaders shared, "One man named Tesfaye, who is HIV positive, said he had never seen anyone doing this for people (providing chicken on Christmas). He said that it had been a long time since he had had chicken for his children. He was on the verge of tears telling us."

What could have been a Christmas marked with lack and burden, was instead a Christmas filled with blessing and joy. We want to thank everyone who gave this holiday season. Your money went further than you will ever know, feeding over 500 people on Christmas. 

Enjoy these snapshots of Christmas in Ethiopia!