Friday, December 4, 2009

Today, A huge Day

Going into an Orphanage from Tom Davis 

So my plan today was to write about the adventure of driving 20 hours on a bus over absolutely ridiculous roads, dodging livestock (donkeys, cows, goats) camels, and human beings all along the way. Ramming and killing a small cow (originally thought to be a goat) with our bus, getting pulled over by an Ethiopian police man, getting stuck in the mud and being pushed out by a few good Samaritans, driving through a river to get to our hotel, witnessing the most expansive and spectacular views mountain/valley views, seeing a village funeral procession with the men carrying a dead body on a stick strecher, crossing over a treacherous mountain pass with (at times) less than a foot to spare between us and disaster (apparently the guard rails are on backorder), observing people living in their mud huts and stick shacks, seeing hyenas on the side of the road and a man stopping traffic when he parked his truck right in the middle of the road to urinate (presumably because he was afraid of the hyenas that lurk on the side of the road). But today was so much more interesting than that.....

We started our day by visiting a facility called Hope For The Hopeless (HFTH) which is a ministry and 'rehabilitation' center for street kids. Boys and girls ages 5-15 who live in the streets of Addis Ababa. HFTH has staff members working the streets and identifying kids to come to there facility. If the kids choose to stay, they remain in the home for 3 to 6 months while they are rehabilitated (my words not theirs). Just to be clear, we're not talking about drug rehabilitation here. These kids get messed up and seriously abused on the streets (emotionally, physically, sexually) and HFTH takes them in and prepares them to live in an orphanage. Many of the boys are scarred from the abuse. One boy had scars covering his head - we are left to wonder what a nightmare that must have been. After living in the orphanage for about a year HFTH seeks to place the kids into foster care. Their ultimate objective is to get these kids into HOMES not just into an orphanage. That is key here - the ultimate goal is a family - not an orphanage if at all possible.

We visited what I view as their stage one facility which is where the (former) street kids begin their 'rehab'. They receive a bed, food, Christian education, counseling and hope. In an environment filled with so much chaos, this facility was incredibly organized. The pastor of the orphanage was so clearly genuine - the type of guy you love after meeting him for a minute. Currently this facility cares for 15 children (13 boys and two girls). Some of who you should have seen in the video posted above.

So we spent a couple of hours with these kids, learning about them, talking to them and playing with them. I was particularly taken by one boy who told me that he loved music (keyboards) - all of the other boys told me that they loved futbol or other games but this guy was different. After 20 minutes of all the kids playing I tracked him down and asked him if he wanted to listed to some music (I brought my ipod and a portable speaker system) - he was all over it. Over the next 20 - 30 minutes he and a small group 'jammed out' together. We had the kids playing air guitar, air drums and air keyboards. Some of the music was Ethiopian, some was American - they loved it all!

It was then time for us to leave, we had another facility to visit. So we gathered the kids up in a tight group, circled them with member of the team and prayed for them and their care takers. Then we hit the road.....

We went to this other facility (which I don't have the time or energy to get into right now) and hung with some younger kids. At the end of our visit we were all meeting as a team and once of the teammates voiced her concern for HFTH. She got the stong sense while we were their that they needed food - which we later confirmed with a phone call that they had little to no food. So after a brief discussion we decided to head back across town, buy some food for them so we could be certain they'd have some immediately, and give them some cash to buy more. We stopped at a market and bought 10 kilograms of bananas, oranges, carrots and some bread - then we headed back over to the Hope For The Hopeless Facility....

From then on the scene is very difficult to put into words and I'm a little hesitant to do so because I know I can't do it justice. What I can do is tell you the facts, but I'll never be able to fully describe the deep emotions of humility, gratitude, awe that we felt - and the spirit that was so ever present and visible like steam in a amazingly hot shower. We entered the facility courtyard and gathered up the pastor, staff members and some of the kids along with our team. We presented the pastor with the food that we bought and a wad of cash. One of our teammates explained that the cash was not just from the people present but from all the people back in the states who supported us with donations. The pastor, filled with emotion, went on to explain that they were out of food and they have zero funds in their bank account. I know that sounds hard to believe, but trust me, come over here for a few days and your belief systems will shift (radically) - and you will appreciate how this can happen. The situation here is desperate. He said that they prayed TODAY for help, for food. They received enough food and cash to keep the kids well fed for a just over a month.....

God's presence was so vivid in that courtyard today and I felt so humbled and honored to even be there. 

In many ways this city/country is a disaster - poverty, orphans, disease. But the irony is that God's presence is more apparent here than any other place that I've ever been. If you feel led to do so, please partner with Andrea, me and Childrens HopeChest to make a real difference. The video below was shot a few months ago but provides excellent insight into our mission here.

Ethiopian Orphans from Simon Scionka on Vimeo.

Presenting the money

Hope for the Hopeless Orphanage from Tom Davis on Vimeo.

Hope for the Hopeless Orphanage from Tom Davis on Vimeo.




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