Appearances can be deceptive. Take a moment to think of a time when you may have seen a person and immediately drawn a conclusion about them that turned out to be completely off. Maybe you saw a large, gruff looking man with a grizzly beard and enormous hands. You may have thought he was mean and unapproachable but upon speaking to him, found out that he was a kind, genuine man – a big teddy bear!
Upon meeting people for the first time, it is normal to draw conclusions based on their appearance. Take for instance a young man named Henok that I met on my last trip to Debre Zeyit. I walked into a very dimly lit room and there lying on a disheveled bed was a young man whose head was too large for his body, his legs were atrophied and shriveled and his arms stilted in their movement. Although he had many physical disabilities, that didn’t stop his warm greeting and the kindness that beamed from his face. As his story unfolded, he was not the broken person I first imagined.
Henok was born a healthy baby boy and brought much joy to his mother and brothers. Henok’s fortunes turned at the age of six months when his head became enlarged due to a fluid buildup. His mother took him to a doctor where surgery was scheduled to put a shunt in the base of his head to help the fluid drain into the spinal column. The operation was not successful to the point of curing his condition; but it certainly reduced the amount of fluid buildup. Due to his young age he was unable to learn to crawl or walk because he did not have the muscle strength to hold up his head. Over the years he has lost the use of his legs and his arms have limited mobility.
As time progressed Henok’s dedicated mother took it upon herself to carry her 17 year old son to kindergarten everyday to try and provide an education for him. Twice a day she would make the trek to school with this precious burden on her back. This was between doing all her chores such as making meals, washing dishes, milking the cow, doing laundry, cleaning the house, shopping and many other numerous jobs.
After a time, the strenuousness of the journey to school twice a day took a toll on her back and she had to give up taking Henok to school. Missionaries came to visit him one day and realized that a wheelchair would make his life easier to bear so they provided one to him. When I examined the wheelchair during my visit, I found it to be in very poor working condition – worn out from years of use, traveling over the rough ground.
Upon assessing Henok we learned what his mother already knew… although his physical body is weak and distorted, his mind is capable of learning and developing. Henok remembers his colors and alphabet from kindergarten and is able to communicate in his native tongue Amharic. He is a sweet-spirited young man who loves the Lord with all his heart.
Because of his age and special needs, the BCI sponsorship program would not benefit Henok in the ways that he needs. But we believe every child deserves a chance, which is why we are asking for people to step forward and help BCI change Henok’s life. Henok needs a new wheelchair, a physical therapist and a tutor for schooling.
The cost of a good quality wheelchair to withstand the wear and tear of travel in Ethiopia is $600. A tutor will be $75/month for a total of $750/year. A physical therapist will be $85/month for a total of $1020/year. We cannot do this without you! Would you prayerfully consider making a one-time donation towards the cost of a new wheelchair for Henok or contribute to the monthly cost of improving the quality of Henok’s life through a personal tutor and physical therapist?
Please contact the Blessing the Children office by phone at 1-888-269-2719 or via email at Melissa@blessingthechildren.org. We praise God for the changes we already see in Henok and pray God will bless the efforts in changing this young man’s life. Will you partner with us in this life changing intervention?
1 Samuel 16:7 – … “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”