Friday, July 10, 2015

Ethiopia 2015 Day 4

On Monday June 15th we all woke up early and excited to serve.  We were going to work in a community called Korah.  I've wanted to visit Korah ever since
I heard of it 5 years ago. 

This excerpt from the Hope for Korah blog describes this community:

What began as an outcast, leper community seventy-five years ago has now grown into Korah, an urban slum with an estimated 130 000 people in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. To this day people infected with leprosy continue to flee to Korah for treatment and to escape from those who believe that they are cursed. After three generations, leprosy is not the only disease found here; people suffer from starvation, TB, HIV/AIDS and many other preventable diseases. These people have become outcast and forgotten.

Those living in Korah are extremely vulnerable. The area is consumed by poverty, leaving many widowed and orphaned. Illness spreads quickly due to scarce and tainted food, filthy living conditions and a lack of clean water. Most who survive do so through begging, prostitution and living off of the city’s garbage dump; a place many orphans call home. Men, women and children spend their days searching and sifting through the trash, desperate to find food or discarded metal and plastic they can salvage and sell for pennies.
All is not dark… there IS HOPE

The conditions people endure here are unimaginable.  But there is indeed hope.  That hope is being found through a ministry called Hope for Korah
We had the amazing opportunity to spend the day at this ministry learning about all of the wonderful ways they are reaching these people who once lived amongst the garbage.
The first program we visited was the BERTA Breakfast Program.  This program works to ensure that children who may otherwise go hungry receive a nutritious start to their day.  Most of the nearly 200 kids that are served here were only receiving one low quality meal per day at home before joining this program.  They now stop by each morning on their way to school to eat a meal of BERTA (a highly nutritious pancake like food formulated especially for malnourished kids).
We arrived to the compound just before 7:00 am to help serve the BERTA and tea.  We also brought bread, bananas and the crowd favorite, mangos
This sweet little girl ran right up to me and raised her little arms up for me to hold her almost as soon as we walked in the gates.

After so many years of wanting to visit this place, she felt like a little angel in my arms, a precious gift of God.

This woman rises early in the morning (like 4 or 5 am early) to begin the process of preparing the BERTA for the kids.

This is her sweet little child.

The kids began to gather in the community center room and waited patiently for the
 BERTA to arrive.

We told a bible story about how much Jesus loves children and wants them to come to him and how all are precious in his sight.

Then it was time to serve breakfast.

The kids really enjoyed looking at pictures on our phones.

After they ate, the circus tricks began.  There are some pretty talented boys in the group.

Followed by some games.

Boys will be boys!

And then it was time to move on to visit the other ministries in the compound.

Next stop was the Home for the Disabled.  This is a place where some full time residents with disabilities such as blindness as well as those requiring temporary medical care and a healthy place to recover reside.

Before we visited Hope for Korah, we viewed this compelling video detailing all that is going on with this ministry.  You can watch it here.

 We were so excited to meet several of the people that were featured on the video while we were there.

Alayhu, pictured here with Shemelis, is one such person.  His story is told around 2:30 minutes into the video.  He is now a permanent resident in this home and is thriving following a terrible accident with a bulldozer that left him without a left foot.

The wounds on this young man's leg are from the horns of a bull.  He lives in the country side, but is in Addis now recovering from surgery to rid his leg of infection.  As a nurse practitioner, it saddens me to think that with basic medical attention, surgery would have possibly been unnecessary, but because he was unable to access health care, the infection spread to such a degree that he is still in need of additional surgery because his knee is now contracted and unable to bend.

Thankfully, he is receiving treatment now and will hopefully recover movement in the future.

This sweet girl is also recovering from surgery to correct a genetic orthopedic condition.

After this, we headed down to the Elderly compound to visit with some amazing gentlemen who have lived difficult lives and have suffered from leprosy, blindness, and other illnesses.  Despite their challenges, they graciously welcomed us in and were a blessing to us, even singing praises and praying while we were there.  Jeanie also blessed them with holy water and a scripture reading.  You could feel the Lord's presence in this place.  They are featured at the 9:45 minute mark of the video above.

We spent the rest of the day at the amazing income generating compound which also houses the daycare and kindergarten along with the benefit sook, clinic and Hope for Korah store.  We were so amazed at all that is being done here.  The women work on crafts, weaving baskets, making jewelry and scarfs that are sold to benefit Hope for Korah ministries.  Sponsored families then receive housing and can also earn points through their hard work to redeem in the benefit sook (thrift store) to purchase items like shoes and clothes that their families need.  While they work, their children that are not yet in school attend classes upstairs in the nicest daycare I've seen in Addis.  So much of this makes sense.  The families are provided for, they learn a trade and gain knowledge that will help them one day become self sustaining, their children are safe, clean and educated and they are redeemed in a dignified manner in a supportive community.

This is Dawit.  He stuck close by our sides during our visit and almost always had a hand of one (or two) of our team members while we were there.

Weaving looms.

Paper beads for beautiful necklaces, each one hand rolled.

Basket weaving.

These beautiful women honored us with a coffee ceremony and several of them shared their stories of redemption with us.  You can see some of their stores starting at the 4:00 minute mark and again around the 8:00 minute mark of the Hope for Korah video linked above.

For the most adorable video, start watching at the 6:00 minute mark as these precious babies sing the "welcome" song.   They sang it as soon a we walked in to visit the daycare classes. Absolutely one of the most precious things!

You'll notice some of these kids were at the BERTA feeding program as well.  They are then bathed and given clean clothes for their day of learning once they arrive at the center.

This is one of the center were able to send a cd player, music and books to thanks to the generous donations of our friends.

Heidi's daughter Brooke and several of her friends gathered to make over one hundred bracelets to share with the kids that we met.  They were a big hit.  Thanks for sharing your love all the way across the world girls! 

Our last stop was the benefit sook (store) which works on the point system and allows the women to shop for their families.  We were able to help sort and organize the store with beautiful Rahel (two beautiful Rahels in this picture, but the one on the left is the director of the programs here).

We also brought two suitcases full of jeans, hoodies and some shoes that were again donated by the many generous people who helped make this trip happen.

Shemelis is an amazing man with a huge heart for Korah.  He has dedicated his life to serving this community.

We had done a girls night fundraiser before our trip and the outpouring of support was overwhelming.  Because of the support, we were able to purchase mattresses, sheets and materials to build a bed for a single mother in great need, stove burners and an injera oven so that food no longer has to be prepared in one spot and carried to the other compounds for the Disabled and Elderly compounds, lights and electrical wire for the Berta Feeding room, a ping pong table, paddles, balls, a basket ball hoop and basketballs for the community center, We will also be donating the remainder of the money raised to help continue the efforts of the Berta feeding program and nearly 200 prescription medications were purchased to restock the clinic.  Of all of the things we bought, the medication is what got me and after this emotional day I broke down crying in the pharmacy (of all places).  It was just so overwhelming to be able to purchase so much medication for only $250 US dollars.  Here that may only pay for one prescription mediation, but in Ethiopia, a little goes a long way.  That is why I always say everyone can do something.  You don't have to be able to do it all.  Change the world for one!

And finally it was time to leave.  Little Dawit meets big Dawit (our awesome driver).

And one of the best days comes to an end.

We will never forget you Hope for Korah.  Such a beautiful example of God's redemptive love.

He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.
Job 5:9