Praise Report :: Monthly Grain Support

Once a month the Blessing the Children office in Debre Zeyit, Ethiopia is packed with parents and guardians eagerly awaiting their grain support.  Thanks to the donors who sponsor a child each month, Blessing the Children is able to give much needed food and household items to each family in the program.

Eagerly awaiting their monthly grain support.

Eagerly awaiting their monthly grain support.

Each month the type and amount of grain support given out varies depending on the local prices and what was given recently.  This past month the families received teff (local grain to make injera, the local bread that most Ethiopians eat at every meal), oil, soap, school exercise books, and pens.  They receive the above items for every child of theirs that is enrolled in the BCI program.  For example, if a parent has three children in the program then she receives all of the items three times over.

Some months the families receive other items, such as: pasta, rice, local spices.  Teff takes up the bulk of the resources so on that month the families may not receive as many items but they are still receiving the same dollar amount of items.  Even though they receive less of other items, most families enjoy the months that teff is given since teff is a huge part of the local diet and it is greatly desired by the families.

Weighing out the teff for each family.

Weighing out the teff for each family.

The parents and guardians arrive at the office much earlier than requested because they want to be first in line.  It is a day of excitement for the families, especially this past month.  Because a new school term was starting, the children were very excited to be receiving new school exercise books and pens.

It is only because of you and your monthly sponsorship support that we are able to help these families in this way.  We thank you so much for your continued support and care for these precious Ethiopian children!

Thankfully receiving the monthly grain support for her family.

Thankfully receiving the monthly grain support for her family.

Eagerly awaiting their monthly grain support.

Eagerly awaiting their monthly grain support.

Pasta month!

Pasta month!

Flour month!

Flour month!

Team members helping out with the grain support distribution.

Team members helping out with the grain support distribution.

2013-04 Article Monthly Donation at BCDO office (33)

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A “Blessing” to Bereket

A Team Member Experience by Sue S.

“I was sitting on the sun-warmed rocks outside the Zion church waiting for the evening service to begin when a small posse of unkempt children came straggling into the courtyard. They paused in front of me and I surveyed their little dirty faces. One tiny girl caught my attention. The expressionless set of her face was in direct contrast to the brightly colored dress she wore. Her deep chocolate eyes were blank and emotionless. I picked her up and held her. I kissed her tiny head multiple times and began to trace her features with my finger while she remained closely snuggled to my heart. After awhile she fell into a peaceful sleep.

Sue & Bereket

Sue & Bereket

When the time came for the service to begin I carried her with me to the church. A lady stopped me and asked ” Do you know her story? ” I said “No” so she began to describe to me the living conditions of this tiny girl-child. A brothel was her home, her mother a prostitute, “Cockroach” was the name she inherited after her real name was forgotten, and she slept in a bed stained with filth and adultery. She was the girl that Jonnett had planned for me to visit the following week after discovering my passion for enslaved women. But the girl-child found me first.

She was given a new name Bereket and the meaning is “Blessing“.

A few days passed until I saw her again. On our way to a morning service we walked down the red-rock street where I picked her up and intentionally took her with me. Again within moments of being cradled close she fell into a deep sleep. After she awoke I noticed that she rarely made eye-contact with me and I had yet to see her smile, but she remained silent and still, while holding my BCI name tag, she studied my photo over and over again.

Bereket stole my heart. 

A few days later we were out on a day of home visits, we were walking to our last visit when we came to the bottom of the Red Light District street and I excitedly asked Nigist ” Are we going to see Bereket?” She said “Yes”. I scrambled to arrange my emotions in those next few minutes of approaching the brothel but I don’t believe anything could truly prepare one to appropriately process the conditions of these broken lives. We ducked past a stained sheer curtain, into the tiny bar area, a thin curtain partially concealed an unmade bed and a wooden door stood ajar leading into a darkened back room. We greeted Emebeat ( Bereket’s Mother) then sat down on the small wooden bench. A few minutes later a man emerged from the murky back room, followed by a young woman wearing a bright red shirt. Clearly a transaction had just been made. Bereket and a few of her small friends gathered around while four of the working girls lined a bench across from us. As I surveyed the scene before me and rocked Bereket in my arms, the tears began to fall unbidden down my cheeks. My heart bled for the children that innocently believed this was the way life was meant to be lived. And I cried for the sweet girls in front of me who were simply attempting to collect a few birr but somehow remained hopeless and stagnant in a place of disease and dirt. We took out a bright colored shirt, a small doll, socks and tiny boots and gifted them to Bereket. Again, she quickly fell asleep in my arms.

Bereket asleep with Sue.

Bereket asleep with Sue.

As much as I wanted to share my heart of love for the women, I couldn’t speak through the sobs constricted in my throat so my husband Randy began pouring words of life and hope into the women (thru Nigist our translator). He spoke of God’s love and care for them. He spoke of how God sees us as equals and how precious they are to Him. After abit more chatting, Nigist informed us that Emebeat had called her that day saying she wanted to get out, she wanted to change and she wanted a different job. Nigist told her she had to wait because the prostitution ministry/housing was not yet in place and the logistics needed to be worked out. We prayed with Emebeat, Bereket and the other girls then stepped out of that dark place. I broke down entirely, and as my husband and I walked arm in arm up that sad sad street, I ached to make a difference. A REAL difference. Later that night when asked by Jonnett about the visit, the tears flowed again and I said ” I don’t care what it takes, I want to get them out. ” Jonnett said we could start looking for rooms to rent and there was a slim possibility that in our remaining time there might be a chance of finding a place. With that knowledge I was able to rest and let go of abit of the awful ache that clung to my soul. The next day dawned bright and crisp in true Ethiopian style, and our day progressed like usual. It wasn’t until afternoon that Nigist contacted Emebeat to notify her that she should begin looking for a room to rent. I felt restless and truly American in my impatience to have things happen quickly, but all I could do was collect a few items from the donation pile and fill my polka-dot suitcase in hopes of helping to place these things in her new home. Only a mere 2 hours after notifying Emebeat, we arrived at our second home visit of the afternoon and there she was,waiting for us with a shining smile.

Almost immediately after we arrived she excitedly informed us that she had already found an available place. We decided to go with her to look at the room, so we crawled into the Bajaj and wound back to a small secluded area. The compound was surrounded by a tall green hedge with pink blooming flowers, just through the gate was a small, tidy courtyard shaded by a large sprawling tree . We were escorted to a mud room with a brilliant blue window.

Bereket & Emebeat's new home.

Bereket & Emebeat’s new home. 

The interior was decently spacious and smelled as though it had been freshly cleaned. In comparison to the brothel, it seemed to be a heavenly haven and the price was unrealistically fair. We agreed to pay half of the months rent that evening and then finalize details the following day. Meanwhile we had a chat with Emebeat alone in the Bajaj. “What is your plan for your life?” we asked. She expressed her desire to continue to learn how to read and write, to develop more personal skills along with her plans to search for a job, like selling potatoes or charcoal. She ended with “I have made the decision to leave and I will never go back. I simply want to follow Jesus.”

With heartfelt excitement we informed her that we would like to support her for a little while until she can be self-sustained but ultimately we want her to have abit of freedom to care for her daughter. Parting ways for the evening we agreed to contact her the next day with moving details. Sleep was chased away by my thoughts as I laid in bed that night. I imagined the excitement Emebeat must be feeling. How would it be to know you only have one more night in a place of dark degradation and pain? Only one more night in a bed wrought with semen and diseases? Only one more night on that dark, depressing street?

Zion street.

Zion street.

 ONLY ONE MORE NIGHT. 

Friday morning dawned clear and full of anticipation. The time was filled with washing and drying my own bed sheets and picking out some of my own clothes to give to Emebeat. A quick trip to town was made to buy a mattress, blanket, floor mat and other necessities.

Randy & Sue excitedly shopping for a new mattress.

Randy & Sue excitedly shopping for a new mattress.

Finally we were on our way to pick up Emebeat. She had her few belongings neatly packed up and swiftly loaded. A small crowd of women had gathered to say goodbye to Bereket and her mom.

Saying goodbye...

Saying goodbye…

I caught glimpses of some of the ladies faces, their eyes were laced with happiness yet displaying a deep , deep longing for freedom. I once again began to weep in my own inability to rescue them all. How could I only take one? I wanted to gather them all up and help them to freedom. But instead I held tightly to the small girl-child that was safe in my arms and thanked God that at least this tiny life would be eternally impacted that day. Another stop was made for coffee, sugar, lentils ,spices and a wispy broom and then we were off to their new home. The air was alive with life and hope and laughter! Even the Bajaj driver seemed intrigued and eagerly helped to unload the mattress and small mound of bins and washtubs. Emebeat and I quickly got to work unrolling the mat and fixing the bed.

How was it possible that a small mud hut could feel like a mansion? It did.

As dusk began falling on the courtyard we prepared to leave, waving goodbye with the promise to return soon for coffee! 

In the meantime Randy decided to surprise Emebeat and build her a bed frame. The next few days he worked on constructing it. On the day we scheduled to have coffee with Emebeat in her new home we added the finishing touches of stain to the bed frame. We added a personalized note written in Amharic on the interior boards.

Randy & Sue, hard at work.

Randy & Sue, hard at work.

What a sweet greeting!

What a sweet greeting!

We arrived at their home and found Bereket smiling at the gate! I was in awe at the change in both of them. They were both clean, fresh and glowing with joy! My heart was so so happy. Emebeat seemed thrilled with the bed frame and was nearly giddy as she began roasting coffee beans.

Doesn't get any fresher than this!

Doesn’t get any fresher than this!

I sat there not only drinking in the rich, sweet coffee but also the amazing changes in the two beautiful faces in front of me.  Faces that initially were expressionless were now overflowing with giggles and fun! Bereket scampered about and played happily on the bright yellow mat. She even threw a small temper tantrum when forbidden to touch something, even in that moment my heart soared because before me was an entirely changed girl. In place of the blank robotic face were the natural emotions and expressions of a normal child. Their surroundings had gone from bleak to bright and suddenly their future was full of a splash of normal and a whole lot of HOPE.

In the middle of so much desperate need, God broke through the darkness and shone his light into a wounded heart and allowed us the honor of being his vessels to set in motion the change of a lifetime. The joy of walking through the door of opportunity God opened before us. The chance to pour love into a woman who was lost in a world of mere survival and sin.

The incredible privilege of embracing the heart of a child and truly being a “Blessing” to Bereket!

Update :: BCI Academy Children’s Library

After many years of collecting books, packaging, and fundraising to send a book pallet to The BCI Academy and then another 9  months of organizing paperwork, shipping, waiting and some more paperwork, we are so privileged to say:

The BCI Academy has received the book pallet!

The book pallet was filled with over 3,000 books and the amazing staff of the BCI Academy are hard at work organizing and shelving the books.

Digging in!

Digging in!

It has long been a dream of Blessing the Children to stock a library for the BCI Academy. We believe that a good education is one of the most important things you can give a child. A good education will open a door to a bright future and that is exactly what we want our children to have!

We want to give a huge thanks to everyone who has made this possible.
May God bless you as you bless His children!

Hard at work.

Hard at work.

BCI Academy Principal Mulugeta, happily shelving the books,

BCI Academy Principal Mulugeta, happily shelving the books,

 

 

The Worst of the Worst

Sometimes I think I have seen the worst there is to see of the poverty in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia.  But then I see something new, something worse.  Recently, I was visiting one of the Blessing the Children International’s (BCI) sponsored children.  There was a lady and a baby in the house that I had never met before.  I started a conversation with the woman about her baby.  She told me her baby girl is 9 months old; however, I would have guessed her to be 6 months old.  I noticed the baby had a rather large skin tag protruding from her ear and I asked the mother if it caused pain for the baby and she said no. 

I continued with the home visit for the child I went to visit but I couldn’t stop staring at this little baby.  I went for a long walk around the village-the whole time thinking about the new woman and her tiny baby.  When I got back to the house she was standing outside.  I asked her which house was hers and she pointed to a small gate.  I asked her if I could come visit and she said yes.  I walked into the small compound and then she led me into her home.  I stopped dead in my tracks.

You have to understand that earlier, when I was talking to her about her baby, she told me that she has three other children.  The reason that I stopped immediately upon stepping foot in this woman’s house is because I was trying to understand how four children and their mother live in this tiny place.

The Girma Family home.

The Girma Family home.

The house consisted of two rooms.  The first room is probably 6×5 ft and the other about 2×5 ft.  I just stood there and looked. . .looked at nothing.  The only things in the house were a small pile of onions, a small cooking pot, two burlap sacks, and a tiny pile of clothes.  While I was just staring, the woman told me that she lives with her mother and sister.  I asked her again-to confirm I understood what she was saying.  I couldn’t fathom her living there with her four children and she has just told me that two other adults live there.  I asked her where they all sleep and she showed me by spreading the clothes and burlap sacks on the floor.

I walked outside because I was starting to feel really overwhelmed and as I walked out, two of her other children, mother, and sister had just gotten back from hauling water.  I asked my translator, Tigist, to help me with the next part of the conversation because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding anything.

We discovered that the sister also has a child living in the home.  That is five children (one of which is a teenager) and three adults living in this tiny house with next to nothing in it.  I asked them how they survive.  They told me that they have a horse that the teenaged boy uses as a taxi in town.  After buying supplies for the horse he brings home about 30 birr ($1.70) a day to support the family.  They use the horse manure to build a cooking fire because they can’t afford charcoal or gas.

None of the children are able to go to school because she can’t afford the tuition, books, or uniforms that are required for school.

This family is the poorest of the poor.  The mother said that she feels blessed that they have a house to live in, that they are not homeless.  But, they only have the house because when her husband was living there he paid the rent.  He recently abandoned the family though so now she is worried about where they will live.

I was able to collect clothes, food, and toys for the family but it’s not enough.  They need immediate help.

Can you help by sponsoring one of the children into the BCI program? In order to add a new child to the program, a full sponsorship of $90/month is needed.

The children in need of sponsorship are:
Fasika Girma (girl, 9 months old)
Meseret Girma (girl, 8 years old)
Elias Sintayehu (boy, 5 years old)
Weynishet Girma (girl, 10 years old)

If you are unable to commit to a full $90/month sponsorship, would you consider make a one-time donation to help provide this family with food, rent, bedding, and clothing?

If you would like to sign up for a sponsorship, make a one time donation or would like more information on how you can help this family please email Melissa Strawn at Melissa@blessingthechildren.org

By Jonnett T.

The Blessing of Water

Written by Marianne H.

When you run out of eggs – or any grocery product – what do you do? What about when you’re out of toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste or dish soap? My common course of action is to run out to the supermarket and buy more. It rarely happens that something I need cannot be found on the shelves of my local store. Actually, not only can I find what I’m looking for but there is generally a very diverse selection of each product available, sometimes to the point of finding it hard to choose.

The same goes for medical care. If I’m sick, I go see a doctor. If I have dirty clothes, I throw them in the washer and that is the extent of the effort it takes to clean my clothes. If I want to turn on a light or charge my laptop, there is power available. And whenever I want to shower, there is water.

I believe that those of us who grew up in first world countries, take a lot of things for granted. I grew up in a country (the Netherlands) where we have lots of water and where the water that comes from the tap, has been defined as the best drinking water in the world. Since I have been in Ethiopia for the last six months I have learned to appreciate the ‘little’ things more and have become acutely aware of what a blessing it is to have the kind of access to water that I do in my country.

We all know that water is needed for a lot of things but Ethiopia is not a country with a wealth of water. After I experienced a couple of days without water, I started to appreciate it more and realize that a lot of things are not possible without water. Things I normally take for granted. Without water there is no shower, no flushing the toilet, no laundry washing, no cleaning, no dishes, but most important: there will be no water to drink. Our body can only go a couple of days without water before it shuts down.

When there is no running water in Ethiopia, I am very blessed to be able to go up to the store to buy bottled water but this is not the case for most Ethiopians who can barely afford to purchase food.

According to a recent report of the world health organization, only 13% of the Ethiopian rural population has access to clean drinking water. The rest of the population is exposed to diseases that are connected to a lack of water, dirty water, bad hygiene or lack of sanitation. Dirty water is the number one killer in the world with a rate of 25,000 victims a day.

Families with their water jugs.

Families with their water jugs.

Women and children have to walk – sometimes 7 hours a day – to find a place where they can take water. And even then, that water is dirty and disease ridden. They fill up their cans and carry them all the way back home. All that effort, for water. In my country, the average use of water is 130 liter per person a day, whereas the average use of water in Ethiopia is 3 or 4 liters per person a day.

Even if the majority of Ethiopians had access to a tap for running water, the tap water in Ethiopia is not safe to drink. I have seen firsthand a lot of Ethiopians that are often sick, because of the bad drinking water.

Knowing this is a huge problem, Blessing the Children is working to prove aqua tabs for the BCI families. These tabs are dropped into any available water and effectively clean the water, thus giving the families access to healthy, disease free drinking water. These little tabs have prevented a lot of visits to the clinic and have improved the life standard for many of the children in the BCI Program. They have made a big difference for the families and we feel so blessed to be able to provide them.