Hope for Hiwot

girl-from-ethiopia-with-grain-supportDo you know a 9-year-old girl? Can you imagine arranging for her to marry a man, let alone one three times her age?

This was the sad reality for Selam, the mother of Hiwot Semeneh. Selam fled to Addis Ababa at the age of 9 after discovering that a marriage had been arranged for her. In a country where 41% of girls are married by the age of 18, her story is all too common.  Arranged marriages, child marriage, and marriage by abduction are still common practices in developing parts of the world, including Ethiopia.

Once in Addis Ababa, Selam worked as a maid to earn a living and felt safe until she was raped by someone in the house, resulting in the birth of Hiwot.  After this, she moved to Debre Zeyit where she worked as a waitress, struggling to support herself and her young child.

When she was older, Selam married and had a second daughter and a son. Her husband has since abandoned the family, and she has been forced to raise her three children on her own. She washes clothes for an income but only has two customers who call her once or twice per month.

Like so many others in Ethiopia, Selam lacks the education needed to move on to higher paying employment.  Every day she wonders how she will make it through the month.  Things have gotten so bad that she had to burn the family’s only chair in order to have firewood to prepare food for her children.

Selam’s first-born, Hiwot, is a 4th grade student at BCI Academy.  She is quiet and well behaved at school and loves jumping rope and playing hide-and-seek with her friends.  In spite of the family circumstances, Hiwot has not lost hope.  She dreams of becoming a pilot and is interested in environmental science and English.

Selam is HIV positive, which means her health will continue to decline.  By the grace of God, none of the children are HIV positive, but they will have to carry on and support themselves when their mother is no longer able to. As the eldest child in the family, Hiwot has an additional burden. She must take on responsibilities at home, such as food preparation and helping with her siblings.

The single rented room that the family shares costs $13 USD per month.  All four family members sleep in the same bed, and they share a toilet with their neighbors. The only clothes Hiwot owns are the ones she is shown wearing.
bed-shared-by-four-people-in-ethiopia makeshift-kitchen-table-in-ethiopia
Hiwot is currently partially sponsored. Because of her sponsorship, she is able to attend BCI Academy.  She also has access to the breakfast and lunch program, and she receives monthly grain support.  With only $2 USD available per month for all food, clothing, household items, and living expenses, there just aren’t enough funds available for Selam to provide much for her children beyond a roof over their heads.

Imagine for a moment the bravery of a 9-year-old child to escape the clutches of an arranged marriage, and the courage of this mother in the face of raising a family in extreme poverty. She is alone and her health is failing.  Without our help, Selam has no hope for a better future for her family.

We would like to replace the family’s chair and provide other furniture to improve their living conditions.  We would also like to provide a clean outfit and new shoes for each family member and send 6 months of grain support for her siblings.  Hiwot needs an additional $60 per month to be fully sponsored.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the needs of so many families in Ethiopia, but with support from our donor family, we can rewrite the story for families like this one.
two-girls-in-ethiopia social-worker-delivers-food-support-to-child-in-ethiopia
Hiwot’s Urgent Needs:
$320  Furniture
$120  Outfit and shoes for 4 family members
$180  6-months of additional grain support
$60/mo.  Complete Hiwot’s monthly sponsorship

Please prayerfully consider what you can add to Hiwot’s story.  If you are able to meet one or more of these needs, please make your donation online or by mail today!


Building Upgrades at BCI Academy

With the BCI Academy building now seven years old, it was time for some upgrades to protect it from deterioration. bci-academy-debre-zeyit-ethiopia-building-upgrade

The months of May through September are considered the rainy season in Debre Zeyit.  Most of BCI Academy is protected by shade, but some parts of the building are vulnerable due to exposure to direct rainfall.  Reinforcements were added to these areas as well as areas close to the ground, which are exposed to water during cleaning.  Reinforcement came in the way of cement, which will provide effective water proofing. New walkways were also added outside the school.

These upgrades ensured that BCI Academy is ready for the upcoming school year, and the building will remain standing solid for future generations.


Modern Technology for a Modern World

We live in a world where communication is faster than ever, where messages can be sent and received at lightning speed.  That is, unless you live in a third world country.  In countries like Ethiopia, modern technology is still considered a luxury.  This includes technologies that we take for granted, such as broadband internet.  Even for the minority of Ethiopians who own computers, broadband is cost prohibitive and is typically reserved for office purposes and businesses, such as internet cafes. 


 In an effort to improve communication with our donor family, we have recently installed broadband at our Ethiopian BCI office.   We are excited about helping our staff complete their tasks more efficiently and having a better line of communication to share information with our donors. 


World Humanitarian Day

World Humanitarian Day - August 19thWorld Humanitarian Day was established seven years ago by the United Nations.  It is a perfect example of what the world needs more of – turning despair into a vehicle for change.  Using devastation and hate as fuel for prosperity and love.

It was August 19th, 2003 when a truck bomb ripped through the UN headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, killing 22 and wounding more than 100. The deaths included Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and 33 year veteran of UN peacekeeping operations.

In 2009, the UN decided that the story wouldn’t end there.  By enacting World Humanitarian Day, they used this day of destruction and turned it into a day to honor the 130 million citizens of the world who rely on humanitarian aid to survive, and the countless aid workers who risk their lives while serving the greater good.

Each year the UN selects a special theme for the day.  The 2016 theme, One Humanity, was chosen in reflection of the World Humanitarian Summit, which took place this year.  The summit brought the world to Istanbul, Turkey for a discussion on how to best serve those in crisis and improve safety for aid workers.

World Humanitarian Day is a reminder that even today, there is more good than evil in the world, and by working together we can enact change.

If you feel God calling on you to be a part of global change through Blessing the Children, please reach out to us.  You don’t need to have all of the answers, just a willing heart.


New Equipment for Ethiopian Office

office-staff-at-blessing-the-children-international-ethiopia-uses-donated-computerAlthough a job well done is its own reward, it is certainly a joyous occasion to receive recognition. The Ethiopian government appreciates the efforts of our organization and has recently provided our Ethiopian office with equipment to support our continued mission. We received over 50 items, including a computer, photo copy machine, color printer, camera, and bookshelves. In addition, we received two motorcycles to improve our transportation.

Even though this was a donation from the government, some money had to be put down in order to claim the items. We are thankful to our friends at Blessing the Children Canada – Inc. for stepping in and facilitating this payment.motorcycles-donated-by-ethiopian-government-to-blessing-the-childrencopy-machine-donated-by-ethiopian-government-to-blessing-the-childrenThe government of Ethiopia knows that we are doing great work for the children and families in Debre Zeyit, and we know that this is thanks to our donor family. What a great example of a global community joining together to create change!

Filling a Need: Summer Grain Support

School is out for the summer!

While the students cherish the opportunity to take a break from their studies and spend time with their families, there is one downside to summer break: they lose access to the breakfast and lunch programs at BCI Academy that sustain them throughout the school year.

We can’t allow our children to go hungry during the summer months, so we have taken action to make sure they have a provision of food to carry them through until the new school year begins in the fall.


Thanks to the support of our donor family, we have been able to provide the families in our sponsorship program with nutritious and sustaining foods, including peanut butter, soup, pasta, macaroni, and rice.  Each family also received funds to purchase cooking oil.  It’s just one more way our sponsors have filled a need for our children.


Clean Water for Tokuma School

In Ethiopia, only 28% of the population has access to sanitation, a statistic that has improved just 3% over the past 25 years. Lack of safe water and sanitation means that diarrheal disease is one of the leading causes of death in Ethiopia for children ages 5 and under, and one of the top five causes of death overall, placing alongside HIV/AIDS.water-tower-for-children-at-tokuma-school-in-ethiopia

Not only is access to a safe water supply and sanitation in Ethiopia among the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa, it’s one of the lowest in the world. Many women and children collect their water directly from ponds that are shared with animals, and they often have to travel for several hours while carrying heavy jugs in order to retrieve water.

We recently became aware of a need for access to clean water at the Tokuma School, a local school in Debre Zeyit attended by seven children in our sponsorship program. When this need was brought to our attention, we installed a 2,000-liter water tank at the school. We are here to help all children in need and feel blessed to share this precious resource with our sponsored children as well as their classmates at the Tokuma School.