English Competition a Success

Hundreds of children recently gathered in the school courtyard on a sunny afternoon to hear the results of the annual BCI English Competition. After a week that featured multiple rounds of competition, winners emerged at each grade level. Our grand prize winner, Remedan Jemal, was thrilled to receive a laptop computer that will aid him in his studies. There were many eyes upon him as he received his prize, and no doubt these children returned home inspired to study hard for next year’s competition.

Congratulations to all of our competitors, and especially to Getaneh Yohannes – Grade 6 Champion, and Tinsae Teklu – Grade 7 Champion. Getaneh and Yohannes have grown up in the BCI program and we are delighted for their achievement.

 

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Growing Pains: Water Shortage at the BCI Academy

If you have bought a home or rented an apartment, you have likely felt the “joy” of those little discoveries you make after moving in: the noisy neighbors upstairs or the room that always seems to be mysteriously colder than the rest of the house. We made a discovery like this after opening the Bethlehem campus of the BCI Academy this past fall. As it turns out, the water line does not provide enough water to support the more than 1,500 students who attend the school, especially during the daytime.

The Bethlehem campus water line originates from a reservoir in town. Water continues to flow throughout the night, but we currently have no way of capturing it to save it for the next school day, meaning that this precious and scare resource goes to waste. This also means that the students run out of water during the day and are unable to use the drinking fountains and toilets. This creates a sanitation issue as well as a dehydration risk, particularly during the warmer months of the school year. Besides the health concerns, the water shortage is a distraction for the students. It is difficult to concentrate on your studies when you are physically uncomfortable in class.
In an ideal situation, we would install a well on the school property; however, this is a difficult task in Ethiopia, as the water is hundreds of feet below the surface and requires use of a $25,000 well-drilling device. There is also a 2-year wait list to use the drill.

Young BCI Academy Student

The current water usage for the school is more than 20,000 Liters per day. In order to provide an adequate supply of water, we need to install two tanks that each store 10,000 Liters of water. These tanks will collect the water that flows through the night and hold it for use the next school day. The cost to install both tanks, all accessories included, is only $1 per student. We think this is a small price to pay to enhance the health of more than 1,500 students! We hope you will consider partnering with us to make sure our students stay clean and hydrated during school hours.

1 Tank: $750
1 Grade: $125
1 Class: $30
1 Child: $1

Blessing the Children International
2265 Fraser Road
Kawkawlin, MI 48631
1-888-269-2719

http://www.BlessingTheChildren.org/donate 

 

Shoes for Every Child

Our social workers recently had a big task: fill up the BCI van with 200 pair of brand new shoes – one pair for every child in our program – and deliver them to each family. It took many days to get the shoes sorted and distributed, but it was a joyful time bringing this blessing to each and every child and family. We know that for the rest of the year all of the children have good quality shoes to protect their feet as they travel to and from school and around the town.

Children Receiving their Shoes After School

Happy Guardians Picking up Shoes for their Children

Shoes Ready for Distribution

Abenezer Kasu: In His Own Words

We first met Abenezer Kasu when he was 11 years old. His story is a sad one. His father died when he was 3 years old and his mother died when he was 6 years old. He has a brother and sister but the three children were split up after the death of his parents and were sent to live in different homes. Abenezer went to live with his aunt. When his aunt died, BCI intervened and brought his brother into the program and reunited the siblings.

Abenezer has no memories of his father and faint memories of his mother. His first memory of BCI was when he met a group of missionaries who were teaching English class and Bible study at his church. He also remembers the great excitement he felt when missionaries visited him in his home.

Abenezer Kasu – Age 13

Abenezer has been sponsored for six years and the transformation is truly inspiring. Our BCI President recently sat down and spoke with Abenezer, who shared what he has been up to.

For the past several years, Abenezer has been attending University. He will be one of the first BCI students to graduate from University. In June of 2018, he will receive a Bachelor of Science College (BSC) degree in Applied Biology. He plans to teach biology at the high school level for several years and hopes to return to university to receive his Master of Science College (MSC) degree.

Abenezer Kasu – Age 20

Abenezer is bright, articulate, and has dreams for the future. We hope you enjoy learning more about the impact of BCI on his life, in his own words.

“First of all, my life wasn’t stable when I lost my mom and dad. I was living with my aunt. Before I joined the program life was not stable. After I met up with missionaries I tried to communicate with them, so my English developed.

They (BCI) provided me with school materials, clothes, food, so I became more stable. It was very difficult to stay in university without having mom or dad or family. You have to have somebody who has to look after you and take care of you. No one was there for me but the program has supported me very well.

There were times when I wondered what would my life be (without BCI). It wouldn’t be like this. I might not get an opportunity to go to school. I might not get an opportunity to leave (his difficult home situation) because there were things that were not comfortable, even when I was living with my aunt. It (BCI program) has been a good help to my life.

My future plan is to have my own work and help my family, and if I get a chance, I want to support some kids who are in the program because I have been cared for by some people and I want to do back what they have done for me.

In 10 years from now, I might have my own family. I might have kids. I might have my own work.

I would like to thank (my sponsors) for supporting my education and everything for their support. May God bless their family and provide everything that they need.”

We invite you to watch the full interview at the BCI YouTube channel:

Abenezer is one of three BCI students graduating from university this spring. He will join Selamawit Teklemuz (Construction Management) and Mekedes Shisema (Applied Biology) as the first BCI class to graduate from university.

Selamawit Teklemuz

Mekedes Shisema

More Space to Grow

Last Christmas we told you about a mother and her two teenage children – Genet and Yohannes Bune – who had outgrown their very small home. Not only was there no space for the family, the condition of the house was very poor. Their uncle donated land to build an addition to the home, but they could not make use of this gift because they had no funds to build the addition. What a blessing it was when a generous donor stepped in and provided funding to purchase the materials. Their new home is sturdier and significantly more spacious. They can now come home to a more comfortable living environment and have space to study, which is especially important this year. Both teens are grade 10 students and are preparing to take the National Exam this spring. This exam will determine whether they can stay on track for university. We know this preparation will be a lot easier thanks to their better living conditions!

Genet and Yohannes

Mother Outside the Family Home in 2016

Inside the Home in 2016

Genet at her New Home

 

 

A Surprise Blessing

We love to receive good news. We were thrilled last year when a church from Arizona who had traveled with us to Ethiopia surprised us with a generous donation to purchase beds for the children.

You may remember that we asked for help in purchasing beds for Christmas in 2016. We were able to meet our goal of getting all of the children off from the floor and into beds. This was a great feeling!

Although we achieved this important goal, we still had situations that were less than ideal, such as teenage sons sharing beds with their mothers, and multiple family members sharing a bed. Receiving this unexpected gift allowed us to greatly improve the sleeping arrangements for so many children.

It is heart warming to know that others out there think and care about the children like we do, and take it upon themselves to help provide for their critical needs. Thank you to this special church and to everyone who makes sacrifices, big and small, to support the children throughout the year.

A Key to the World

In partnership with our global sponsorship family, we do everything we can to give our children the best chance for a bright future. We provide them with nutrition and medical care, we pour into their spiritual lives, foster social development, and give them access to a complete education. One thing that we feel is a key to opening up the world to them and helping them break out of the cycle of poverty is the English language. English is the most widely spoken international language for business, academia and tourism. By contrast, the national language of Ethiopia (Amharic) is spoken only in Ethiopia. By teaching our children how to speak English fluently, we are giving them the ability to communicate with the rest of the world.

Several years ago we established an English Quizzing Competition in order to motivate the students to study English above and beyond their work in the classroom. The competition is a big event within the community and takes place over a one-week period each spring. Top students from grades 4 through 10 at several local schools are nominated by their teachers to participate in the competition, which consists of many rounds of competition before winners are selected. The top six students in each grade receive a cash prize and ribbon, and the top two students in each grade are invited to a special banquet along with a guest and their teacher. Participating in this banquet is a big honor and is something that the students strive towards.

Due to the fact that we are now responsible for over 2,000 students at the BCI Academy and Bethlehem School, we have had to limit the competition to these two schools for 2018. There simply isn’t funding to bring in additional schools at this time. In fact, there is no funding available period. In past years, a generous donor financially supported the competition. When our competition sponsor passed away in 2017, we lost a dear friend and also the ability to support the English competition. We feel that it is critical to continue this competition in order to keep the students motivated to develop their English skills. Therefore, we are asking for partners to join with us in sponsoring the competition this year.

SPONSOR A GRADE: $85 per class for ribbons, medals, and cash prizes
SPONSOR A CHAMPION: $45 per student for banquet meal, including one guest and one teacher
SPONSOR THE GRAND PRIZE: $500 for a laptop computer for the 10th grade winner, to help with college preparation

We invite you to visit our YouTube channel to view a video of last year’s competition, including several touching speeches by the children: https://www.youtube.com/c/BlessingtheChildrenIntl

 

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!

 

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.