Monday, July 7, 2014

Entoto Mountain...What A Difference A Year Makes!

Let me take you back a year. It was the first week of July 2013 when I first met Endihnew, the founder of Endihnew's Hope. It was a chance meeting as he was interpreting for another friend of Ordinary Hero's. After he was finished, he told us a little about his ministry and asked us to come see his feeding program on Saturday. We gladly said "yes" and looked forward to seeing this program, serving the children, and learning more about their needs. We had no idea though what we would end up finding once we arrived!
We not only were introduced to the most beautiful children and a few of their mothers in Endihnew's Hope, but we were also about to witness the very literal definition and picture of "starving children in Africa". It was one of the worst things I have ever seen in my life! There were 160 children who showed up that Saturday to be fed by Endihnew, but only about 35 of them received food that day. There just wasn't enough to go around because, at that time, Endihnew had been funding this program by himself.
I was standing behind Endihnew holding an 18 month old child who ended up being one of the lucky ones. Before food was given to her though, she let out a shrill scream, tensed up, and started quivering when she saw the bags of food. She had a look of pure terror on her sweet little face. It was obvious that her innocence had already been stripped as she knew what it was like to starve. As soon as Endihnew heard her scream, she received her food bag and immediately her head rested on my shoulder and let out the biggest sigh of relief. Then came the grabbing, the screaming, the crying, and the sobbing. I saw some children sharing with their friends and some hiding their food in their coats or shirts, unsure of when their next meal would be.

what last summer's feeding program looked like







Right then I knew that I had to do something. This could not go on any longer. God had opened my eyes to the pain that He sees every single day and was asking me to do something. To be a voice for those who do not have one. And that is where I will bring you to present day Entoto Mountain...

It has been a year since that dreadful day on Entoto and many many things have happened for the good! God has been working in the hearts of lots of people on Entoto and in America and lots of forces have been joined all to make Entoto Mountain a better place for the women and children there.
For starters, as soon as I returned home, I emailed Kelly Putty, founder of Ordinary Hero begging (yes, I admit I probably begged) to start a child sponsorship program for the children in the feeding program. She instantly said "yes!" and I got to work getting the structure set up, photos, bios and information from Endihnew. A few weeks later we were ready to roll it out and within a few days our first child was sponsored! A few days later the second one was. Right now, as I type this, there are 35 children sponsored and that, my friends, is a God thing! He has called many of you to stand in the gap for these precious children and you have said yes in obedience to His call. Because of you, these children are no longer in the feeding program! They are now getting 3 meals/day, their school registration in paid for which allows them to go to school, and any medications they may take along with the house rent is paid. And all of this is done for just $50/month! You all are changing lives and I have seen the change personally. I just returned from making home visits of the sponsored children and the difference I see now versus a year ago is incredible. They are growing, they are confident,  they are smiling, and most importantly they know they are loved and have not been forgotten. If you are interested in sponsoring a child, you can email me at KBlevins@ordinaryhero.org for a list of children and their bios. We still need 125 sponsors.

sponsored kiddos meeting and/or receiving packages sent by their sponsor families










We know that sponsorship is not a long term answer though, so we wanted to encourage an income generating project for the women on Entoto Mountain that would get them out of their job of carrying the 180 pound firewood sticks down the mountain every day. This job is brutal for the women and generates about $1/day. This is not anywhere near enough to feed a family of even 2 people, much less a family of 4 or 6. Endihnew had started some of the women who carry the firewood in clay making but they had to stop because they weren't able to make a salary while they were being trained. Thanks to the generosity of some wonderful donors, we were able to take 8 women out of their jobs as firewood carriers and get them trained and set up as pottery makers - all while making a salary. Now, they are making beautiful pieces of pottery and selling them to tourists. The goal is to also begin selling them in guest homes, in a small shop at the base of the mountain which is a touristy area, and in the capitol city of Addis Ababa.






Another way that we are looking to help the women on Entoto Mountain become self-sufficient is through the weaving project. We have not been able to start any women in this though as we do not have any funds available...yet. We already have 3 looms though and a building so as soon as we raise $550 we will be able to train 4 women (3 on looms and 1 in dying the fabric) for 3 months and pay them a salary while they are being trained. After their training, the women will be able to make beautiful scarves, blankets, etc... Their items will be sold in the same manner that the clay products are.



And finally, because there are still children who are not sponsored yet, there still remains the feeding program. Endihnew works tirelessly, day in and day out, to serve the children and women of Entoto Mountain. The children swarm him the minute he arrives and the women want to know when their child will be sponsored. It is never ending. He answers them with grace and patience like I have never seen. It is only because of Christ that he can do what he does and do it so well. The kids still show up on Saturday mornings to be fed and he still is dedicated to feeding them with whatever resources he has or can find. If you would like to donate to the feeding program, please click on this link and follow the instructions. In the message section, just type in "Feeding Program". It costs approximately $175/week to feed all of the children a meal of injera and sauce.

this year's feeding program...drastic difference!!!








So, you see, very exciting things happening on Entoto Mountain and God has performed many miracles over the past year, but we STILL need your help and you can STILL be the vessels that God uses to change the life of a family on Entoto Mountain through sponsorship, donating to the feeding program, or to the weaving program.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email - KBlevins@ordinaryhero.org

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