Yesterday afternoon we went to Hope for the Hopeless, a Children's Hopechest drop-in center for street kids. There are about 15 boys and 2 girls who stay there. One of the girls in named Meron. Part of her story has been documented in a video at http://onechildcampaign.showitsite.com/#/alem-house/ Meron is the teenage girl who is the second in the video to share her story. She has one of the most horrible stories I've ever heard, but she is one of the happiest, most magnetic people I have ever met. While her story of redemption is certainly one of the most dramatic on the planet, the sheer number of lives that have been healed here is staggering. Some of the boys at the center shared there stories with us, and common themes from them and most of the other kids we have spoken with are as follows: born in the countryside, one or both parents died, they walked many (sometimes hundreds) of miles to Addis in hope of finding work, once in Addis they find no work, since they have no work & no money they sleep on the streets, it is very cold at night so they sniff glue or gas or drink alcochol or smoke cigarettes or chew chat in order to feel warm or at least forget that they are cold, during the day they beg for money or steal, bigger kids beat them up, they are alone and very afraid. Every single story is heart-breaking, but the great part is that the stories of the kids who get plugged in with the amazing ministries we seen don't end there. For these kids, the story continues often like this: Someone from the ministry found me on the street, he can and talked to me every day, after a while I started to trust him and came to the shelter he offered me, they gave me food and safety and love and sent me to school, when I started I was last in my class but now I am fourth and next year I will be first. I share this generalization to give you an idea of how lives of helpless children go from very bad to much better here. I am hesitant to do this, because every child is a unique person with a unique person and, most importantly, each was created for a unique purpose and is full of unique potential.
After visiting Hope for the Hopeless, we went to dinner with an American missionary couple who are getting ready to launch a ministry called Bring Love In. It is one of most beautiful models for caring for orphans that I've heard. In addition to the millions of orphans in Ethiopia, there are also (at least) thousands of widows with no one to provide for them, protect them, or care for them. Bring Love In will hire widows to live in homes with 6 to 8 orphans. The beauty of this model is threefold: First, it simultaneously helps widows and orphans. Second, it creates a family environment (rather than institutional care) for all involved. Thrid, the project is very scalable. Once one house is full, they only need to find and train another widow and find another small house to rent. Larger care facilities are expensive and hard to find, so relocation or expansion is extremely difficult. Today we are going to another carepoint/sponsorship facility and then we are going to meet Aster, the woman who founded the orphanage where Sam once lived. Aster has started a lot of other projects, so I am excited to see an old acquaintance and to see what she is up to now. Gotta run--thanks for reading!