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.