Counting our Blessings

We are filled with gratitude at the outpouring of generosity from our donor family this Christmas in providing much-needed essentials for the children. We want to take a moment to share some numbers with you: we think you’ll be as excited as we are!

28 pair of shoes to protect little feet

22 outfits to provide comfort and dignity

16 backpacks to transport books to school

10 bellies filled to keep bodies strong and nourished

12 hygiene kits to protect from germs and illness

20 toys to develop imaginations

54 months of vitamins to keep immune systems healthy

1 home repaired to keep a family safe and dry

Meat and eggs added to the school meals to provide protein that will help the children grow strong

And, many more blessings! Our BCI family also provided new bedding, rent, sanitary products, medical expenses, support for waiting children, and financial gifts to be used where needed most.

God is good all of the time!

 

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Praise Report: Fitsum Girma

We introduced you to Fitsum Girma two years ago. https://blessingthechildren.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/urgent-need-wounded-hiv-five-year-old/

Fitsum is a precious 7-year-old girl battling a serious health condition. Last year she underwent surgery on her leg after suffering for a year with a painful infection that led to the development of osteomyelitis.

As a result of donations from several compassionate individuals, Fitsum was able to move into improved housing and has been receiving additional grain support to keep her belly full so she can tolerate her medications. She is attending school regularly and her leg has fully healed. The impact on her quality of life is strikingly apparent in these photos. An empty stare has been transformed into a mischievous smile and we couldn’t be more pleased.

Fitsum in 2016

Fitsum in 2017

Praise Report: Walking by Faith

Bereket with his Leg Braces

Seven-year-old Bereket Bedo is a typical boy in almost every way, but sadly one of the things he most desires to do he cannot – that is to walk and run with ease. Bereket was born with an unknown musculoskeletal condition that makes walking difficult and running even more so. When he was very young he did not know any different, but now that he is school age he recognizes that he struggles to keep up with his classmates.

Earlier this year Bereket was blessed to receive a generous donation that allowed him to begin seeking medical consultation. He has since visited a doctor in Addis numerous times. The doctor has a plan to improve his condition. An important part of his treatment  includes wearing leg braces, which will be adjusted every couple of months. We are so excited to witness Bereket’s progress and look forward to him gaining more freedom as treatments continue to improve his condition.

 

The Search is Over

Our staff in Ethiopia has been busy interviewing and hiring staff members for the newly acquired Bethlehem School. After a thorough search, they have found the right person to serve as Principal of the school. Meet Principal Degu! Degu means “kind” in Amharic. Not only is he kind, he has an MA in Educational Planning and Leadership and has 26 years of experience education, including time in private schools as well as university. Please join us in welcoming Principal Degu and in prayers for a successful year of leadership for the Bethlehem School.

BCI’s 1st Wedding

When a child applies to our sponsorship program, we begin by meeting with the child and guardian for an evaluation. We look at their social and educational status, any health concerns, the financial need, and details of the living situation. Many times the children are shy and hide behind their guardians, or sit quietly and show little emotion. Sometimes they are so weak from malnutrition that they do not have the energy to interact with our staff. At this point, they are a new face and we know nothing about their unique personality. Once they begin receiving adequate nutrition and their minds are opened up through education and their hearts through ministry, they begin to blossom. A glimmer comes into their eyes; they may even run to our staff and smother them with hugs. It is by this point that are no longer strangers – they feel like our children.

We have now been serving in Ethiopia for nearly a decade and we have children who are beginning to grow into adults. Watching the cycle complete itself, from these beginning stages of a frightened, hungry child just struggling for survival, to a confident adult, is an experience beyond words. We feel so much gratitude for the opportunity to bear witness to God’s work in the children’s lives.

We have been experiencing a flurry of firsts lately – first child to turn 18, first child to attend university, first child to complete vocational school. We now have a new first to add to this list – first child to grow up and marry.

We first met Beruktawit Godana more than seven years ago. She lived with her mother and her brother and was affectionately called “Choo Choo.” She dreamed of having her own land someday and building a house to share with beggars so she could help and teach them. She is also a talented artist and enjoys basket weaving and beading necklaces. Beruktawit was raised at home while she completed her schooling. She went on to attend vocational school and during this time, she met the love of her life.

Now, at 21 years of age, Beruktawit has just married and started a new life with her husband. Although this brings her time as a sponsored child to a close, we feel so excited and hopeful about her future and are honored to have been a part of her journey.

 

Students Accepted to University

Summer is always an anxious season for grade 12 students at the BCI Academy. They study hard during the school year in preparation for the National Exam in June. The results of the exam determine whether they can proceed to university,  vocational training, or whether they must repeat the grade.

The Federal Ministry of Education in Ethiopia will pay for the university tuition for students receiving excellent grades on their National Exam. Since our students do not have the financial resources to attend university otherwise, entrance by exam is their only means of receiving a higher education.

We are thrilled to report that three of our grade 12 students have been promoted to university based on the results of their exam this year.

Congratulations to Esrael Yirga, Biniam Chekel, and Sitota Aschalew!

These students have been part of the BCI program for seven years and their hard work and the support of their sponsors has paid off. University is the critical final step in breaking the cycle of poverty through education. Please keep these students in your prayers as they begin this important next step in their education.

Esrael

Biniam

Sitota

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Answered Prayer

You know those powerful moments in life when you feel God reach in and intervene in a way that is almost too awesome for words – those times when something falls together at a magnitude that can only be explained as a “God thing”? We are having such a moment right now in our ministry and are still in awe over the unbelievable way in which God has responded to our prayers for our high school building project.

The cost for the three-story addition was more than $150,000 USD. This was an overwhelming task, which we broke down into three phases. The minimum amount of progress we could make in order to open the first floor of the building in time for the 2017-18 school year was the foundation, walls, and roof. The total cost of this bare minimum structure was $16,600.

With less than a month remaining before the doors were set to open for the new school year, just over $2,700 had been raised. A panic was beginning to set in – how would we keep our high school students in class come September?

Then, a call came from Pastor Tadesse, our Ethiopian National Director. Bethlehem School in Debre Zeyit had been released from its overseas management team and was being offered to another NGO in the area. No land lease, no tax; just the incredible gift of a school. The question posed was – would we support the acquisition of Bethlehem School and subsequent expansion of our ministry? It did not take us long to answer “yes!”

The Ethiopian government informed us that due to our strong record of success with the BCI Academy – with particular attention to financial responsibility – we were chosen from 20 NGO’s to take over management of Bethlehem School.

We prayed for months to have the funds to build the addition just to keep our high school students in class. God responded by putting an entire school in our hands.

It is an understatement to say that we are overwhelmed by His provision.

Bethlehem School

Bethlehem school is home to 1,000 students. Not only do we have another building to use to expand the BCI Academy, we will now be responsible for an additional 1,000 students, tripling the reach of the ministry. This is an enormous responsibility and the task of preparing to open the newly acquired school in a matter of weeks has been daunting. We are so proud of our Ethiopian staff for their tremendous effort in making all of this possible.

Our management team has been busy interviewing and hiring 45 teachers and staff members, cleaning the building, and making repairs to bring the school up to operational form for the new school year.

Pastor Tadesse Touring the Property

Our work on the new addition to the BCI Academy will continue. We will complete the pedagogical center, one of the requirements that had been set forth by the government, and will also have space for additional classrooms. We will be able to save money on this project by making the addition one story rather than three story, since we now have space available at the Bethlehem School.

In response to the good news of receiving ownership of the Bethlehem School building, Pastor Tadesse quoted Luke 12:48: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

We ask that you please keep the ministry in your prayers and pray for our Ethiopian staff and our nearly 1,500 students who are now a part of the Blessing the Children family.

$20 Buys a Backpack

For children across the United States, one of the most enjoyable parts of a new school year is the back-to-school shopping trip for new clothing and supplies. Picking out a new backpack for the year is especially fun.

Back to school shopping is not part of the culture in a third world country like Ethiopia. The children expect to wear the same clothes they have played in all summer, mostly torn and stained from the muddy rainy season. Many carry their school books, papers, and pencils, hoping not to lose them on the way to and from school. Those that do have backpacks use them until they are in tatters.

As our students head back to school next week, many will do so with backpacks that look like the one pictured here – held together by a safety pin and barely able to contain school supplies.

The cost of a new backpack in Ethiopia is only 450 birr; just $20 USD. It is our goal to provide 50 of our children with a new backpack this year. If you would like to bless a child by providing a new backpack through our “$20 Buys a Backpack” program, we invite you to reach out to us or simply include an additional $20 with your monthly sponsorship payment. Let us know if you would like this applied to your child or for any urgent needs child.

Online: http://www.BlessingtheChildren.org/donate
By Phone: 1 (888) 269-2719
By Mail: 2267 Fraser Road, Kawkawlin, MI 48631

Extra Support Needed

We introduced you to Meheret Lakew two years ago. Meheret is a sweet 14 year-old girl who contracted meningitis at the age of 6 months. Like most children in Ethiopia, she had not been vaccinated against the illness, and it left devastating effects. Her ability to walk, talk, and control her bodily fluids was compromised.

Meheret requires regular physical therapy and the use of diapers. Her sponsorship pays for two diapers per day, but this is not enough. She requires additional support to afford enough diapers to stay clean all day and night.

Meheret in July 2017

For the past two years, Meheret has been blessed to receive sponsorship to cover the cost of these additional diapers and therapy. Before the extra sponsorship, Meheret slept on a plastic sheet at night and went without a diaper. Imagine having to put your child in this unsanitary situation.

Unfortunately, Meheret’s additional sponsorship has run out. She is in need of $60 per month in additional sponsorship to keep her in a steady supply of diapers.

Meheret and her mother face many challenges in their daily life. Living in poverty in Ethiopia and having a disability are independently difficult circumstances. In spite of it all, Meheret is a joyful girl. She always has a smile on her face and enjoys attending church service. Her mother does the best she can with the challenge of raising a disabled child in extreme poverty.

If you would like to bless this family by providing the additional sponsorship needed to cover her medical needs, we invite you to reach out to us.

Online: http://www.BlessingtheChildren.org/donate
By Phone: 1 (888) 269-2719
By Mail: 2267 Fraser Road, Kawkawlin, MI 48631

Summer School

The doors to the BCI Academy don’t close when the school year ends. We make our facilities available for learning year-round. Many of our children take advantage of the summer season to advance their studies. In fact, 80 students ranging from grades 1 to 10 participated in summer school this year. In the midst of the slightly cooler weather and frequent rain, it’s great to see our students and staff making the most of their time indoors!