Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ethiopia - Entoto Mountain Sponsored Kids

Today was a beautiful day. We spent our time on Entoto Mountain - my heart and soul in Ethiopia. The objective today was to make home visits on the children in the sponsorship program that I am in charge of and deliver the goodies that their sponsors sent for them. We also were going to assist the women who carry 180 pound bundles of eucalyptus branches on their backs down the mountain.

As we reached the top of the mountain where children were out and about, we heard someone call out to us. We looked over and saw Mesfin - the man who runs Endihnew's Hope, the charity organization we partner with on Entoto Mountain. He runs a feeding program each week for 145 children and looks after the sponsored kids as well by delivering them their food supply, checking on their grades in school, and their well-being. Beside of him was my sponsor child - Belete.

Belete came running up and immediately gave me a hug saying "mommy mommy, thank you mommy thank you." It was quite overwhelming and emotional to say the least. You see, Belete is an orphan and his grandmother kicked him out because she couldn't afford to keep him anymore. He is such a good boy, makes amazing grades in school, and is a volunteer in Mesfin's feeding program since he is no longer in it. He is kind, caring, and so loving.
His home was one of the first we went to. He shares it with his cousin and it is about a 8x8 mud hut. There was a small mattress on the floor that both boys sleep on and there was a large potato sack on the floor as well. I asked what the potato sack was for and they said that was their old mattress. Heart breaking... They had their school backpacks hanging on large hooks on their wall and that was about the extent of their home. No lights, no window, no bathroom, no refrigerator, no nothing.
His cousin, Temesgen is also sponsored so we gave both boys their gifts from us and Temesgen's sponsor and you would have thought we had given them 8 trillion dollars. Belete hugged us like crazy again and little Temesgen's eyes got wide with excitement and he kept saying thank you over and over.

After these handsome fellas, we headed over to little Biruk's home. He is quite the character! Love this little guy so much. He is sponsored by a lady in Virginia who has been to see Biruk before and goes to Ethiopia several times each year. It was fun to deliver something in the in between times from her. He was so surprised and happy! Sponsorship has made a huge difference in this little guy's life!

Next we visited the little girl my brother's family sponsors - Tigist. We were walking to her house when we met her along the way. She was coming back from somewhere carrying her infant brother on her back in a little wrap. I knew her immediately. And tears sprung in my eyes wishing so bad my family could be here to see this precious child. Mesfin explained who I was and who my family was. She smiled and then we all walked to her house together. Her mother met us at the entryway and was shy and mild mannered. I told Tigist that I had something for her from my brother and his family and I gave her the envelope. I showed her their picture first and she LOVED that, as did her mom. And then to make sure she knew that Adalynn, my 3 year old niece, made her the necklace in the bag, I pulled it out for her and pointed to Adalynn and told her that she had made it just for her. She grinned so huge and put it on right then. She loved it!


Then, there is Terworke. Sweet little Terworke. This child was so so happy because her sponsor was on our trip, but we were met with some decisions to make in regards to going to her home because of her family situation. Terworke reassured us that everything would be okay, and Mesfin agreed that we could try. So we went to her home and met her aunt. Things seemed "okay" but I still don't feel good about her living there with the aunt. I am praying for this child and her living situation. Without going into details, will you pray too?

The next child, is another one who has my heart as there is just something about her that is hard to explain. I don't know if it's that I prayed for so long for her to get a sponsor and then it happened in such a random way, or if there is just so much to her story that connects us. Regardless, this little girl is just a blessing a joy to me. Her name is Mekedse. She is a beautiful little girl who is quiet, reserved, and well mannered. She has a heart of gold and a smile that will melt a heart of stone. I was so blessed to be able to present her with not only the bag of things that her sponsor sent for her, but also several bags for her to be able to give to other children. You see, her sponsor wanted Mekedse to be able to experience what it feels like to be the giver. The one to watch a child's eyes light up as you give them an unexpected gift. That was a very neat thing to watch and the little girl she chose...well, her eyes spoke for themselves. They got HUGE! And her smile was contagious. Never did I realize what a beautiful picture this would create.
The one thing I needed to do today with Mekedse though was to assess her heart. I knew she had a heart problem but did not have any details except that she sometimes got short of breath while playing. It was all I could do to hide my shock the second my stethoscope touched her chest. There was not a real heartbeat that I could find - it was nothing more that a LOUD murmur. I knew instantly that she had a VSD (a hole in her heart) and possibly some other things. The wheels were set into motion regarding how to get her to a doctor and if I needed to, how to get her a medical visa.

We ended our time on Entoto today. We are excited to come back on Wednesday for some more home visits to take pictures of children who need sponsorship and to visit a few more kids who are already sponsored. We will also visit the clay program that is worked by women who used to carry firewood down the mountain.

After leaving Entoto, we came back to the guest house and got busy putting together blessing bags. These are 1 gallon ziploc bags that are stuffed with an outfit, candy, toothbrush, toothpaste, and a toy. We also have a ton of shoes to pass out so we organized all of them, along with the school supplies that were donated for the kids who do not have sponsors up on Entoto Mountain.

While doing blessing bags, this guy in the middle came in needing nursing care for a stab wound he had received 21 days ago...so, I got to work packing a wound deep with 4x4 gauze and explaining to him what would be happening over the next 10 days while I was there.