Haddis March 2021 Trip Update
It’s hard to know where to begin as so much transpired in the week that we were in Ethiopia. First of all, we are so thankful that we were able to travel. The Ethiopian staff has done an amazing job keeping our programs running and caring for the kids in the 14 month since we last visited. Yet, there is nothing like being there in person. We work across languages, cultures and continents from day to day so it’s nice to be able to see first hand all that is being accomplished as well as all that remains to be done.
We always feel like the lucky ones that God has chosen us to be a part of what He’s doing in Ethiopia. Our hearts are so full after being with the kids, families and staff. Even among hardship and heartache, their beauty and strength shine through.
Our first stop was Gondar, a more rural area north of the capital city, home to the campus of Gondar University and a historical castle making it a popular tourist destination. It’s also home to the Bridge of Hope Orphanage. It is the dry season and you can see the river is nearly empty. The river is one of the water sources for many residents in Gondar.
We started our time with the kids who are orphaned and live at Bridge of Hope. These kids are particularly special to us. The teens welcomed us with beautiful songs, leading the rest of us in worship.
It’s hard to explain how deep bonds can be formed when we spend so much of our time apart, but these kids feel like our family and we love them all so much!
We were taken on a tour of the completed water well, tanker and shower house. We were pleased to see the new handwashing station that the school aged kids now use and learned that the well provides water not only to the orphanage, but also for both schools on the property. Access to a clean, reliable water source makes such a difference for our kids!
On our second day in Gondar we got to profile 25 new kids for our program. Earlier last year we were told that there were at least 100 kids in the surrounding community in need of support. We know that many children and their families are trying to survive on as little as a dollar a day, commonly only eating one simple meal a day of shiro and injera (chickpea stew and traditional flat bread). While our hearts’ desire is to meet the needs of as many kids as possible, we decided to start by adding 25 new kids for now. Even while we were there we learned that the government has asked for 18 additional kids who are in extreme need to be added. We are trusting God to provide new sponsors and for the capacity to care for these kids well and we will follow His lead as we grow.
For our current sponsors, one big way you can help us is by sharing your story of sponsorship and what it has meant for you with others. Every one of us has our own circle of influence, opportunities and resources and we should use them for the benefit of others. You can direct new sponsors to haddis.org.
Then we met with the physical therapist who is doing a great job working with our special needs kids. He comes three times a week and is so good with the kids. We were so happy to see them getting this vitally important service.
That afternoon we had the privilege of taking 38 teens in our Bridge Program out for lunch. It was a special time where we shared sponsor letters and they had the opportunity to write back. We encouraged them by sharing the story of the Ebenezer stone in which the Israelites set up a stone to memorialize God’s faithfulness, declaring, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” from 1 Samuel 7:12. We want them to know with God, they are never alone and He will never let them down.
We learned how very important it is for these teens to have a sponsor. Many of them are preparing to leave the orphanage for universities and expressed their apprehension about this. We are working on ways to prepare them for this transition.
We interviewed each child or care giver of the child in our program and distributed water purification tablets and jugs to all of our community kids as well as new sheets and blankets for every child in our program.. It was great to be able to learn more about each one and see their progress.
Beautiful nannies who joyfully and tirelessly mother these sweet children.
We also got to see our breakfast feeding program in action and observe the kids in school. We are so thankful that our kids have the opportunity to be nourished and receive a quality education.
Then we spent time with the babies in our Tesfa Project which seeks to provide temporary care for abandoned
babies with the hopes that they will be adopted by a local Ethiopian family.
We learned that many babies are abandoned and often left in the hospital. Bridge of Hope said that not a week passes by that they do not get a call to take in an abandoned baby. Sometimes 5 or more babies are in need of placement in a week's time and are left in understaffed and under resourced hospitals receiving minimal care by overwhelmed nurses. We were told that unfortunately babies die in the hospitals due to lack of care. It’s hard to imagine and hard to understand and it is absolutely not ok.. Bridge of Hope has the space to take up to 70 more children, but they don’t have the staff or the financial resources to do so. We currently support the cost of caring for 3 Tesfa babies and the salary of their nanny which is about $400 a month. We committed to funding 3 additional beds and one more nanny to provide an opportunity for additional babies to be cared for. This is a complicated issue and we are committed to working with Bridge of Hope and the local government and churches to help alleviate this problem further. If you’d like to join us in this cause, go to http://haddis.org/tesfa-project/#.
After a very busy three days, it was time to head back to the airport. Just prior to our departure one of the mothers of a newly added child in our program approached us and asked us to tell her more about Jesus. This was the third opportunity that we had in Gondar to share the good news that God had sent his son Jesus to take the punishment for all of our sins and that whoever believes in him and surrenders their life to the Lordship of Christ then they will be saved. This is particularly noteworthy because when we started working here two years ago we were told we couldn’t even talk about Jesus as this is a highly Orthodox area and they are suspicious of anyone trying to change their religion. The mission of Haddis is not to change anyone’s religion, but for them to know the love of Jesus and so that is what we have shown them through the overflow of Christ’s love for us, we love them and now they are coming to know Jesus! It is amazing!
The next day, we began our work in Addis at our new project Yenigat Birhan, which means “Morning Light.”
At Morning Light, the founder Meseret works with impoverished families, many of which are headed by single mothers, to support the educational needs of these children through after school tutoring. A quality education is crucial for these kids to overcome their challenges and break the cycle of poverty. It is particularly important for the girls in our program who are vulnerable and often have fewer opportunities. All of our children in this program attend government schools and tutoring allows them the focused attention they need to be better prepared for graduation, national exams and eventually university.
This was our first time meeting the kids in person and of course we fell in love with them with each interview.
The Ethiopian staff did home assessments for each child and the level of poverty these children live in is just heartbreaking. Most of our kids have inadequate housing, almost all exist on one meal a day outside of what they receive at Morning Light, most sleep on dirt floors in crowded, shared spaces, surviving on the daily labor wages their parents earn.
After hearing their stories, we know that a key aspect of this project will be family empowerment through income generating activities and job skills training. The needs are great within these families and the best way that we can help is to come alongside them to equip them to become self-sufficient and able to provide for their own families. he sponsored child is just one piece of the puzzle and while having one child sponsored does help the whole family, we believe that God is leading us to do more to empower the entire family unit.
We are thankful that 58 kids have been sponsored here since launching the project 5 months ago. We have 17 additional kids waiting for a sponsor family at haddis.org.
We leave you with this final story of redemption, of beauty from ashes. One of our beautiful mothers that we met while in Addis has been struggling to feed her young son and having no other options had turned to prostitution as the only means to provide for him. As she told her story and the unbearable things she has endured while in this position tears just streamed down all of our faces. She had been abused and robbed at the hands of evil men. She hated every minute that she lived in this tragic situation and was so, so sad. Her anguish was evident and no translation was needed to convey her heartbreak.
Picturing what she had to suffer through we all wept with her and decided right then and there that she would never again have to subject herself to this type of work. We decided that there was no way that we were ok with the fact that we get to live like we do and any other human would have to live like this. For just $300 we were able to pay her monthly expenses for two months and provide her with the supplies needed to start her own injera business so that she will never again have to work in prostitution. We prayed over her and you could physically feel the presence of the Lord in the room. The word “Haddis'' means ''new” or ''renewal” and we saw its meaning put into action as this woman was freed to new life and hope for a future for herself and her son.
And this is why Haddis exists.
We are praying that everyone who is a part of this ministry, both in Ethiopia and America, will experience the freedom and redemptive power found only in the Lord Jesus. We are so thankful to all our sponsors and supporters who allow this work to continue. You are truly changing the lives of many people and we are forever grateful!
Misikir and his beautiful family!
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5
Join us at: haddis.org