Thursday, July 14, 2011

Team 1, Day 4 Ethiopia....Headed South to the Country

Today was our day to head South. There is a VERY rural, country village that has stuck out in my mind since my very first visit last July. There is an orphanage I visit out there, but the kids outside the orphanage have caught my attention more than anything. They are so poverty stricken that they had no clothes or shoes and the children ranging from around age 6 and up carry babies around on their backs. BUT, their smiles will melt your hearts. I made a promise to myself last time I was there that I would come back and help that community somehow. 
So off we headed south for the day.

When we arrived I immediately spotted one of my favorite little girls. There are at least three sisters that look alike. One of them is with me on the header picture of my blog. They are simply precious. The children in this community barely have clothes that fit or don't have holes in them. Most babies are naked. None of them have shoes on. 

Before we left Amy, from TN, brought a boy in from the street and gave him a new pair of aqua shoes and Vanessa made a little friend as well.
We first arrived out in the country at one of the orphanages I help advocate for the children in. I brought along my adopted son's sister, Hewit, with us throughout this week in order to show her the importance of giving. She has been so great. She knows a bit of English and has helped translate for us to the children. She has really enjoyed giving to the children as well. It was only one year ago that I found her living in a mud shack, herself. Now she is giving back to those who are just like her. All of the team loves her. I had handed her a bag of bows to put on all the girls in the orphanage and you can see Clay, above from TN, has gotten a laugh out of her.

I found some of my sweet little friends I had met on my last trip here. If you all purchase items from our OH store, these little ones are the children featured on our thank you insert.

These children just break my heart with their dirty, torn clothes.
I have found that the very young girls are the ones that care for the babies during the day while their mothers are out doing some kind of hard labor. The babies have no diapers and are dirty, but the sweet little girls just love them and care for them as if they were their mother.
We went in and did some crafts with some of the kids in the orphanage. This orphanage is a little bit outside of the city and rarely gets visitors. They love it when we break out the crafts.

Chris, from Illinois, brought along bible stories that played on a recorder, spoken in Amharic. What a great idea! The kids sat and watched in amazement. I'm not sure if they had heard about Jesus before as this is a Muslim community.
Hewit enjoyed painting nails for some of the older girls. It so blesses me to see her serving those in her own country.

We pulled the babies over to the side and washed them off and put cloth diapers on them. Some of them cried and were afraid of the Fringe (white people), but at least their little booties are covered now.

Everyone on our team made a new friend.
The most amazing thing for me in ALL that I do for OH is to advocate for the waiting children. I had the privilege on this trip to tell one of my little buddies that has been waiting for years to be adopted, THAT HE HAS A NEW FAMILY!! This little guy is 10 or 11 and has been on our wait list for the longest time, simply because he is older. We have continued to advocate for him and one of the sweetest families ever has fallen in love with him. He will join their family soon. This little guy has the sweetest spirit and my heart has always broken for him and another boy that are left in this orphanage because I watched them wait. With each visit I had here there they sat and waited. Now this little guy is going to go home to his forever family.....and the best part is that we will be neighbors! He is coming to TN. He was really nervous when we asked him to sit next to us off by himself. He didn't know what was going on. I brought the translator over and began to talk to him. I said "You know how you have been wanting a family, and you have been wanting to be adopted?" He said, "Yes". I then pulled out the photo album of his new family and flipped open to the picture of all of them with his new Mother, Father, two sisters, and two brothers and they were holding a picture of him, and I couldn't even get the words out as tears were filling my eyes. I sat there and gathered myself and then finally the words came. "You now have a family." I introduced him to all his family members and then at the end I pointed to him and said his name. He had the biggest smile ever and it was the most precious thing. All those on our team standing around and watching were crying. I can't even tell you what joy this brings me as I see this little boy out in the middle of no where, thinking that everyone has forgotten him, feel God's love and favor as he now knows he will not live there the rest of his life. There is one more older boy like this one that we are still advocating for. He is simply precious!

We finished up at the orphanage and went for a walk through the outside community where they are so poor. Some of them guided us through and we were able to go on a few home visits.

Of course I had to get a pic with one of my favorite little sweeties.
We found this Grandmother sitting in a mud hut on some blankets on the floor and that is all that was in there. She was tell us that God sent us to her. She was Muslim and we explained that Jesus loves her and is the reason we were there and she just smiled and said "Thank you and thank Jesus". She gave me a kiss before I left.

The flies that swarm these children is almost too much to look at. They are so used to them that they don't even swish them away. I can barely stand to look at them on that precious face.

This little girl below couldn't have been more than 6 years old with the responsibility of caring for her sibling.
Many children have no clothes at all.
They were very gracious to invite us into their homes.

This woman below lived in a mud hut with one foam mattress on the floor and that was it. She explained that she has 4 children and had to give 3 of them away to a relative that lives further in the country because she couldn't feed them. She has the one boy that remained with her.

These people are just so poverty stricken that there is not much hope in their lives. It is amazing what a little love and blessing can do for them. They had no idea we were coming that day and yet they openly shared their homes and their stories with us. We helped those we could by giving some birr and clothes and shoes and it brought such smiles on their faces.
This whole community lives down a dirt road back in the middle of no where it seemed.

We pulled out our donations and the kids came running from everywhere. We passed out all the donation combos some of you purchased with the fleece blankets and rain jackets and shoes. It got a little  congested so we moved to the orphanage inside the gate to finish. These people are so desperate for any basic necessity they can get, it is very sad.

They then pressed against the gate as they waited for us to hand them clothes and shoes. It was very sad to watch.

We finished passing out everything we had and quickly realized it wasn't enough. The people kept coming and waiting. There are several of us on our team that were so saddened and moved by this community of beautiful people that we have decided to start the beginning stages of a sponsorship program for them when I return to the States. I don't believe any of these children go to school or have a chance in the world if someone doesn't step up to help. I can't see all of this need knowing that a lot of you would step up to help, and not do something. Soooo, I'm excited to see it all come together when we return. We will be sending out folks to go into the community make contacts, find a school we can send them to, find a way to put in a well, etc, etc. I am very excited at even the thought of helping these sweet children in that capacity. It will be a place that those of you who sponsor, can come visit on our OH team trips and meet your sponsored child. This is all brand new but it is definitely needed and in the works when I get home. If you would like to sponsor a child from this community, feel free to go ahead and email me at and we will add your name to a list and contact you when I return with the updates of how all the preliminary set up is going and then match you with a child once we get it all set up. I'm super excited!!
The picture above is what we call a bath house, I guess. It is where several of them were gathered either bathing or washing clothes as we drove by on our way out.
You see a lot of the homemade buggies in this area being pulled by a horse.
We left and stopped at some kind of restaurant near by where Christian, from TN, made friends with the monkeys.
It was the funniest thing and makes a great video. He was feeding them Pringles and they would come up and take them right out of his hand. The whole team got a big kick out of it, especially the teenagers. .
It was another amazing, life changing, eye opening day in Ethiopia. More to come tomorrow as we head to Korah and pass out some crazy amount of sheep :)

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