Written By: Lauren Putty, field director for Ordinary Hero
Today was a free day since the next team doesn’t come until tomorrow morning, so we decided to go see ‘The Fault In Our Stars’. I tell you this because it’s one of the saddest movies I have ever seen, leaving me crying even AFTER the movie, so I’m approaching this heavy blog topic with an already heavy heart. Should be interesting.
I said in my previous blog, “Even though on mission trips we meet hundreds of kids, God always has a way of allowing just a couple to go beneath the surface and grab a hold of our hearts. This unexplainable connection keeps us pursuing them through both action and prayer.” This is proving true yet again, even in the short time I’ve been here. Last blog I told the story of Temesken and Buruk, two boys that stole my heart on the side of Entoto Mountain, and I briefly gave a glimpse into Temesken’s life, including HIV positive parents and a 4 year old sister with an infected burn.
A few days ago fate unexpectedly brought our team back to the home of Temesken for the story to continue. When we first met Kalkidan, Temesken’s sister, and saw her burn, the doctor on our team gave Temesken the tools and instructions to keep the wound clean and allow it to heal. About a week later as the team did home visits we decided to go visit their family and check on the burn. Instead of finding a Neosporin covered, healing wound, we found that it was about ten times worse than it was before, now oozing and pussing and wrapped in a head cloth.
This isn’t the type of thing you just throw money at or pray over. You don’t walk away with a heavy heart. These responses alone would have been much easier. Our hearts were heavy and we did pray for her, but Kalkidan is a little girl who fell in a fire, burning off the skin of her neck and shoulder. The only logical response was to bend down, pick her up, and help her. Love her. Kiss her. And this is exactly what we did.
As we drove to the hospital, Temesken and Kalkidan were like Americans seeing Addis for the first time. They had always been stuck on Mount Entoto, just on the outskirts of Addis, having rarely ever seen their own city. As I fell into a trance watching their bug-eyes glued to the window, I couldn’t help but notice Kalkidan’s shirt collar that was falling over her limp body in my lap. It was covered in the ooze, infection, and blood that was all over her neck, and the smell allowed me to grasp just how bad it was.
After arriving at our third clinic, the only one we could find open (at noon on a Saturday?!), we were finally making progress. It came time for the nurse to clean the wound, and so began one of the toughest hours of my life. As Temesken, her 10 year old brother, and I rubbed the little hands of Kalkidan, the nurse begins spraying alcohol on her wound and what was simply squeezing her hands turned into pinning her body so that she couldn’t flail out of reach. In order to fully clean the wound, they had to remove the infected scabs that had formed over the burn and it was almost unbearable. Here is this four year old girl, screaming at the top of her lungs, being held down by me whom she barely knows while these doctors perform on her head. I told my mom, “She’ll never trust us again after going through all of this. There’s no way.” After about 45 minutes of literal blood, sweat and tears from everyone in the room, the process was over and she had fresh bandages covering her sweet neck. I approached Kalkidan expecting a dart in the other direction, but what I found shocked me. She fell into my arms and clinched me. She was limp, exhausted, and simply just wanted the comfort of being held.
I held her tight, experiencing a similar comfort that she still trusted us, and rubbed Temesken’s back telling him what a good brother he was for being there. The small group of us took a good look at Temesken in his tied on, hole-y pants and Kalkidan who had put back on her blood covered shirt and decided they needed a moment of Oasis… The OH Life Center.
I could go into tons more detail about their afternoon of getting bathed, fed, dressed, and played with but this would easily turn into a novel, and I think the pictures speak for themselves. Sarah Venable did an amazing job at providing a mother’s love, clipping their toenails and sponging their bodies. They had a blast. They felt loved and cared for. Uneasy and anxiousness changed to carefree and alive. Everyone involved was changed that afternoon.
The beautiful picture of that day is that we got to see their full potential. Full bellies, healing wounds, glowing smiles. The tough reality is that it wasn’t permanent. We gave them an afternoon to remember but we then sent them back to their mud hut of seven. I asked Mesfin, the ministry director, how the family reacted when their children came home clean in new outfits and he said they were overjoyed, but immediately started asking if he could just take them to an orphanage because they couldn’t give them a full life like that.
It’s heartbreaking but it's not hopeless. Ordinary Hero is focused on empowering ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference for children in need. In this case, we are focused on empowering Temesken and Kalkidan’s parents to take care of their five children, despite their circumstances. Their 28 year old mother, Mimi, has just begun a new clay works program through our partnership with Endihnew Hope, so that she is employed rather than begging. The next step is sponsorship. Sponsorship will provide money for their most basic necessities, so that their extra income can go towards caring for their family.
I’m not being cliche when I say sponsorship is a miracle. That God would send us clear across the globe, for a few encounters that change the course of a families life is a God ordained miracle. That God would touch people’s hearts through a blog or Facebook post, enough to move them to action, is a God ordained miracle. My prayer is that we don’t skip out on the miracles God is trying to include us in, towards bringing families and children to their full, God given potential.
For more information on the details of this sponsorship, or if you are interested in sponsoring this family, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.