Every time I arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia my eyes are opened to the poverty in this third world country. My heart breaks for so many that I see in the city struggling and existing to simply survive. As sad as my heart is and as much as I thought I had seen it all......
then we travel to the country. I took my team to experience it for themselves.
The countryside, as beautiful as it is, is simply a place of struggle, HARD labor, sweat, famine and survival on the deepest levels.
I drive down the road for miles seeing little faces out in fields,
children younger than my sons without any choice but to work as hard as they can to help their families,
Children herding cows their families must keep for survival, who are barely surviving themselves,
People washing themselves in the muddy river because that is the only place they can find water,
And I can't help but wonder how do they survive? Where do they go to the store? Does anyone even know they are there?
Then there are the children!
The innocent little lives who can't help where they are born, or the circumstances they find themselves in. They simply do what they are taught.....SURVIVE!
We had planned ahead and brought some pre-packaged bags to pass out to the children we knew we would see on the side of the road in the country.
We would pull over to the side and here they would come running.
Their little faces would light up and they would wave to us from as far as we could see.
Then they would come.
What joy it brings to put a smile on a child's face and give them an outfit when they arrive in rags.
Somehow word spreads quickly and you see the little ones running as fast as they can to catch us before we leave.
They show up, not knowing what to expect, just hoping that there might be something for them.
Then we give them the basic items like clothes and food that we take for granted every day.
I watch as a beautiful little girl standing in nothing more than rags and torn material, stares at her brand new outfit. I wonder if she has ever had a brand new outfit in her whole life.
We want to show them they are special. We want to show them they are loved and not forgotten.
We watch as they skip and laugh with joy all the way back home as they can't wait to show their Momma their new clothes.
On these trips, it always comes down to staring desperation right in the face.
Seeing the need.....
and praying that God put us there just in that moment to show them He is there with them.
We see a struggling mother light up with a smile, not knowing what her very prayers were that morning that guided our steps in her direction.
Then, just when I thought I had seen the worst, we turn down another country road.
The children live in tiny shacks and come running from everywhere....in the middle of nowhere.
Still....a small act of kindness can light that little face up.
I wish I could see her in her new outfit.
This little one was heartbreaking!
She obviously had some type of infection on her beautiful face and rotten teeth that her mother did not have the means to get fixed.....if she even had a mother.
Still.....we brought a smile :) We showed her that God loves her and that she is beautiful.
Every time we handed out a package, these kids were soooo grateful.
Each one stole a piece of your heart.
This woman walked across a field to get to us.
As we traveled down this country road I saw three tiny figures in front of us on in the middle of the road.
As we approached these three my heart just broke. They were naked, starving, and playing in the dirt.
We did what we could.....but you always wish you could do more.
We are passing out these pre-packaged bags that are so great.
Some of the girls on the trip took up donations and had each bag come labeled with the child's size and a complete outfit with socks, underwear, and a treat.
If you would like to send us pre-packaged donations to hand out to these children on our future trips, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org . This is how we will hand out all our donations in the future.
At the end of the day our hearts are heavy for these kids but we at least know that our steps were guided. As much as they needed us. We needed them more.
New International Version (NIV)
15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
1 Samuel 2:8
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. “For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s; on them he has set the world.