Earlier this year, Amos + I were able to travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with 3 of our close friends. Our main reasons for going to Ethiopia were “the boys” (see below) and to provide photos for organizations to use in their fund-raising efforts. We also hope to bring awareness and extend a hand for you to join us in caring for those who are suffering. We felt despair at the sheer amount of needs, yet we know there’s much hope for Ethiopia!
To be quite honest, I’ve dreaded blogging about the trip. Last week I was interviewed for a magazine. When asked about my trip to Ethiopia, I was soon weeping in the middle of a coffee shop. How do you describe the sight, smell, and subsequent despair of a dump where 100,000 people live? How do you recount what it’s like to hold hands with children who are literally starving? Somehow, there was still joy. Ethiopians are such happy, thankful, and kind people.
Neatly packing the trip into a blog post feels strange, but here’s my feeble attempt to “sum it up” via photos (and at times, a tear-stained keyboard).
***WARNING: Some graphic content below.
A church in Bismarck funded a well at a school, so we stopped there briefly to take photos to send to supporters. What awaited us was the most shocking part of our trip. We learned only 100 of the 3,942 students are fed lunch every day (due to a lack of funding). All the students live in either the neighboring dump or the slum across the road, so the chances they are getting even one good meal per day are pretty slim.
Above: the dump where 100,00 people live.
Teachers told us students faint during class due to their hunger. It’s hard to believe, but the kids at the school are “the lucky ones”. Public education in Ethiopia is free, but the required uniforms are not, which prevents a vast amount of kids from receiving an education. (The cost of a uniform is about $16 USD.)
Labeling this a “sad story” and filing it away doesn’t feel right. We’re wanting to figure out how we could sustainably help these precious kids and their families.
When our friends Kasey + Kristen lived in Ethiopia last year, they met two little boys with a serious condition called epidermolysis bullosa. In short, it’s a genetic protein deficiency that causes blisters in response to friction (like waistbands on pants) or minor injuries (like bumping your knee). The blisters cover their bodies and the boys were kicked out of school because people feared it was contagious (it’s not).
Sleeping on the dirt floor of their house and not having access to clean water for bathing means they are susceptible to life-threatening infections. Kasey + Kristen did research and had doctors in the U.S. diagnose the boys’ condition. K+K gave the boys their first-ever baths and they started to see some improvement with regular care. One of the main reasons we went to Ethiopia with Kasey + Kristen was to check up on the boys, bathe + bandage them, and bring more medical supplies.
Very specific bandages are needed for their condition (regular gauze and bandaging rips their tender skin off). It costs about $600 USD (!!!!!!) each time the boys are bandaged 2 times per week. If you want to give to their medical fund, you can do so via Kasey + Kristen’s ministry, 8:7 Africa.
Children’s Hope Chest identifies vulnerable children in some of the poorest regions of the world. When you sponsor a child in the slum of Jemo (or any of their care points), you’re giving them access to education, food, clean water, medical care, discipleship and job skills training. Far from being a “hand-out”, you help empower the next generation. Additionally, your relationship with them will grow into something so special! We did a medical clinic for the 250 kids in the program, and hung out in the community a whole bunch.
CONNECTED IN HOPE
There are women who gather fuel wood in the forest, haul it on their back, and make $1/day.
I CARE FOR THE NATION
I Care for the Nation, another Hope Chest care point, was founded to help support orphaned and vulnerable children and their families. The breakup of families and HIV/AIDS are two significant factors in the high number of orphaned and vulnerable children living on the street in Addis without access to regular food, healthcare, and education. Kids are waiting for sponsors here.
PROVIDENCE GUEST HOUSE
We had a safe place to lay our heads every night at Providence Guest House. The guest house hosts short-term teams, missionaries, adoptive families, or individuals. If you’re going to be in Addis, this is the place to stay! The best staff and homemade donuts await you.