The most sobering moments of my trip to Ethiopia with Compassion International were the three home visits I made. I want to tell you about two of them. The first was to a home in a village about 26 km out of Addis Ababa; a mud hut with a mud and dung floor strewn with fresh straw to cover up the odor. The “living room” of the 10’ by 10’ house composed three-quarters of its area and was separated from the “bedroom” by a dirty frayed curtain. There were holes in the corrugated metal roof and all the cooking was done just outside under a shelter to the left of the doorway. They had no electricity. We spoke with a young mother (I’ll call her Martha) and her 3-yr.old daughter, Hope, who was in the Compassion program. The father was off working somewhere in the fields.
Martha was a sad woman who had already lost a child to disease. When asked what her life was like before Hope entered into the child sponsorship program, Martha began to weep and could not speak. She eventually said that she and her husband would have no more children because life was too hard. She shared her testimony of coming to faith in Jesus. She also admitted that her little Hope was her only hope for the future. I question whether this family will ever break out of the cycle of poverty. However, if there is a chance at all it will be through the development of little Hope as a sponsored child of Compassion.
My second visit was to an extremely poor slum area within the city of Addis. It was like a city within a city with cobblestone walkways spider-webbing their way throughout the development; an open drain (sewer?) running along the walkways. Everything was on a hill so that the water ran down from top to bottom. All of the homes were owned by the government and leased to the occupants. We visited a household headed by 20-yr. old “Frank,” his 11-yr. old sister Zabella and a 14-yr. old brother “Ernie,” whom we did not meet because he was in school. Their parents died of AIDS several years ago.
They live in a very small dirt floor home, with a corrugated metal roof and walls made of cloth and other material that flapped in the breeze as we sat inside. There was one small energy-saver light bulb hanging from the ceiling. “Frank” (pictured above with Zabella) works a construction job all day to support the family. After he cooks supper each evening, he attends computer night school. The family was raised Muslim but Zabella has become a believer in Jesus because she is a sponsored child through Compassion. She proudly showed us a shoebox filled with letters and pictures from her sponsored family. We were told how important these are to a child because it reminds them that they are not alone in their poverty; someone knows who they are, loves them and prays for them.
They did a coffee ceremony for us and gave us bread to eat. Zabella loves music and so she sang us a song. It was a song of thanks to God in which she asked what she should give Him for all He has done for her. The song finished, “I will give Him my heart.” I think there is hope that this young family will break out of the cycle of poverty and I think Zabella’s gift will be used to accomplish great things in her small community because of the opportunities afforded her by Compassion.
If you support a Compassion child, you are making a difference. If not, give it some prayerful consideration. Next week I want to tell you about a relatively new initiative that Compassion is taking which may just change the entire nation of Ethiopia.