Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Ethiopia 2015 Day 5 part 2

So one question I hear often about sponsorship is, "how do you know where the money actually goes?"  That's a good question.  My best answer is that as far a Children's HopeChest in Ethiopia goes, I've seen with my own eyes many times where the money goes.  I've seen the changes in the children over time.  I've seen projects that we've raised money for completed in the country.  I've met the in country staff and they are some of the most dedicated and caring individuals that I know.  I've seen the diligence with which resources are handled.  I've seen sponsors inquire about health issues or concerns and receive updates.  My experience with Children's HopeChest Ethiopia is that they consistently do what they say they are doing and the children in their programs are thriving.

Meet Firezer.  He's a little boy who has been sponsored since last October through the I Care for the Nations care point.  The first picture is his original profile picture and the one that follows was taken by our team in June.

He has been sponsored for only 8 months, but his eyes and smile show the difference it is having in his life.
 Firezer after sponsorship!
As Heidi and I sorted through the hundreds of pictures we had taken, we went back to the profile pictures at times to match up kids in our photos.  The next few kids really stood out to us.  We were just in awe of how different some of the kids looked after less than a year of sponsorship.
Likea before sponsorship
Likea after sponsorship
Their faces were brighter, their skin looked healthier, often times their hair had grown and they had visibly gained weight in many cases. 
Yeshialem before sponsorship
Yeshialem after sponsorship! 

You could see the hope they now have on their faces.  These kids are now starting to understand what it means to be sponsored.  They were already receiving the discipleship, character training, supplemental nutrition, educational support and many other services at I Care for the Nations, but the partnership that now exists between our church, the sponsors and Children's HopeChest has provided a consistent source of financial support , spiritual guidance and relational encouragement that has  allowed the kids to begin moving towards their community goal of thriving in independence.
Martha before sponsorship
Martha after sponsorship!
Like I've mentioned in previous posts, this care point is in the beginning stage.  The families who are served her are literally in survival mode.  HopeChest's goal during this crucial phase is to focus on meeting the very real and very basic needs of food, clean water, clothes, basic medical care and discipleship.  As we worked with HopeChest prior to our trip, we realized that these kids are hungry.  Most of them are not receiving adequate amounts of food each day.  Most of them are living in suboptimal conditions, some even live on the streets in make shift housing. Their clothes and shoes are worn out.  Their families live in daily fear of not being able to meet these needs and this is why sponsorship is so important.
Betelhem before sponsorship.
Betelhem after sponsorship
Sponsorship helps to stand in the gap for these families.  You are not only helping to change the life of a child, but you are also helping to keep families together and helping to empower them to hopefully one day be self-sufficient.
This picture below was the most dramatic for me.  I remember seeing Daniel and advocating for him on my blog when we first got the kids' profile pictures.  He just looked kind of sickly and underweight and something stood out about him to me.  I was thrilled when he was chosen for sponsorship and even more thrilled when we met him in person.  He looked so much healthier and it was amazing to see the changes in him.
Daniel before sponsorship
Daniel after sponsorship
The relationship you are forming with these children as sponsors is one that may very well change the trajectory of their lives, their families' lives and their community.  We witnessed this first hand on our trip and encourage you to continue your commitment to these children by praying for them regularly, writing to your child (click HERE for more details) and continuing to support the projects that HopeChest and I Care have planned for the future.
The effects are far reaching and we may never fully know the impact that sponsorship has, but I want you to know that it matters and it's worth it.

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