Securing the Future

When we meet a child who has no food in their home and has never attended school, the priorities are clear. Immediate interventions ensure that the child’s vital needs are met. Once the child is in a safe situation, it’s imperative that we begin thinking beyond the immediate. It is our goal that each child graduates from our program equipped for a self-sustaining future.

Recently, we have taken an important step toward securing the financial future of our children by opening a bank account in each child’s name and depositing 100 birr in starter funds. We are educating the children on financial matters and encouraging their guardians to begin investing for their future needs. In a culture of day-to-day living, this is a significant event. Importantly, no one can withdraw funds from the accounts except the child, and the children can only access the funds after they reach the age of 18. This safeguard will keep the funds protected until the children begin their adult lives.

An added benefit of the bank accounts is that we are able to leverage the accounts to reward hard work and academic achievements. Already, top finishers for the 2020-21 school year were provided with deposits into their accounts in recognition of their efforts and success. We believe this incentive will result in improved academic performance as the students strive to earn rewards. The accounts can also be used to recognize important events such as birthdays and passing national exam scores.

If you would like to help your sponsored child or any child secure their future, you can make a gift at any time to help their seed money grow!

Rising Stars

L to R: Rahel, Kalkidan, Yordanos

We have three girls in the BCI sponsorship program who have excelled in academics over the past several years. Each semester, they continually rise to the top of their classes.

Rahel is 12 years old. She placed 1st in her grade 5 class, with an average score of 96.3%.

Kalkidan is 7 years old. She placed 2nd in her grade 2 class, with an average score of 96.2%.

Yordanos is 9 years old. She placed 1st in her grade 3 class, with an average score of 98.9%.

Classes at the BCI Academy include both sponsored children as well as children from the local community, most of whom come from more financially secure families and have advantages over sponsored children. This makes the accomplishments of these girls even more outstanding, as they have risen above a great deal of adversity on their way to success. We are so excited for their bright futures!

A Promise Fulfilled

It has long been our vision to offer a complete education from preschool through grade 12. In 2017, we undertook a project to expand the BCI Academy to offer grades 9 and 10. This meant that students could reap the benefits of an excellent education at the BCI Academy for two additional years. Since our school ends at grade 10, those who complete grade 10 and progress to university prep (grades 11 and 12) must switch to government school for their final two years.

Contractors working to finish the high school classrooms

A BCI Academy student shared his thoughts after transferring to a government school for grade 11: “I don’t hate the government school and I don’t like it either. I hate the racism and other things. Some of the teachers have taught for many years in the school and they are sick and tired of teaching. Some teachers give us one question and they sit and relax for 45 minutes, even though we only have class twice a week on that subject. The quality of the teaching in government schools is really poor compared to the BCI Academy and other private schools. There is a laboratory but we have not been to the lab since school year started. The school fees are really cheap compared to private schools so you get what you pay for.”

We have stepped out in faith and embarked on completion of the BCI Academy by initiating the building of grade 11 and 12 classrooms. Although great progress has been made, we are running out of time and resources for the 2021/22 school year, which will begin in mid to late September. If you are able to be a part of this special project to help fulfill the promise of a complete education at the BCI Academy, please reach out. You may send a check by postal mail, make a donation by credit or debit card by calling our US office, or make a secure one-time gift through our website.

Current Needs

Make a one-time gift:
You may also call us at 1-888-269-2719 to donate securely over the phone, or mail a check to: Blessing the Children International, 2265 Fraser Road, Kawkawlin, MI 48631.

Big Dreams, Bright Future

Bizuayehu is 24 years old. At the age of 12, his mother was hit by a car. She was unable to walk and could not earn a living, which made it impossible for her to provide for her young son. Sponsorship was an answer to prayer.

With his basic needs met, Bizuayehu was able to stay enrolled in school. Now, 12 years later, he has completed a 4-year training program in hotel operations at Technical and Vocational Training School.

Bizuayehu is an amazing young man with big dreams. In the short term, he has a goal to learn French, Spanish, Chinese and to improve his English skills. Long term, he hopes to open a small café or hotel.

IGA: Putting Moms to Work

As so many of our families have struggled to make ends meet during the past 16 months, we, too, have struggled to fill the dramatically increased need for food support. We have been challenged to fully support 40 unemployed families. This is a feat in and of itself, and it has come at a time of historic inflation in Ethiopia. The inflation rate in Ethiopia was 20.35% in 2020, as compared to 1.25% in the US. Our families need more, and everything costs more, especially food.

There is no apparent end in site to the rapid inflation, so we have shifted our focus to creating new income generating activities for our families, so that they can have opportunities to support themselves. In true “teach a man to fish” fashion, we have created a plan to help our mothers earn an income. This plan includes a variety of small business models. Our mothers will be provided with required training in how to operate a small business, taught by an experienced professional.

Our first eleven mothers have been selected and are being trained on the ins and outs of starting and running a business. Their business type will be making a variety of injera, a staple food in Ethiopia. This is a simple business and the women all have experience making injera. There is a constant demand for injera, due to its importance in the Ethiopian diet. Our staff has developed a new kind of injera oven that will help them produce their product more efficiently.

Each injera business costs $250 USD to start up. This includes an oven and all of the supplies for the first few weeks in business. We have an initial goal of helping eleven of our mothers get this business off the ground. We know that helping them support their families is the best long-term solution.

Injera Oven $90
Teff (main ingredient) $120
Rice $30
Fire Wood $10
Total Need: $250

If you would like to support a mother with a contribution in any amount towards her new business, we invite you to meet the moms and choose a mom to support: Support IGA

Please also join us in praying for the success of this business venture. The women are so excited for the opportunity to go back to work and at the prospect of earning an income to support their families.

Blessings are Flowing

Drilling of water well on the BCI Academy – Bethlehem Campus

Clean, safe drinking water is on its way to the BCI Academy! It has been nearly four years since we expanded the school to include a second campus, and our newest campus has been in dire need of a water well throughout this time. The school is located in an area that suffers from chronic water shortages.

This infrastructure need reached fever pitch in 2020, when sanitation came to the forefront as a result of the pandemic. Our donor family rallied together to make it possible for us to take on this infrastructure project, even during the toughest of financial times.

The children loved taking part in our fundraising efforts by lacing up their sneakers and participating in the Wooha (water) Run. Local police blocked off the streets so they could run freely and complete their course. The mayor stopped by to recognize the efforts of the children and ministry in bringing this project to life.

2020 Wooha Run

The well will provide consistent access to clean water for nearly 2,000 students, staff and teachers as well as local community members, with whom we intend to share this blessing. We’re thrilled to report that drilling has begun on this project and the well is expected to be completed within a matter of weeks. Blessings are flowing even in difficult times. Praise God!

BCI Celebrates 20 Years

Have you ever embarked on a new adventure and had it turn out completely different than you expected? When BCI’s founder first traveled on a mission trip to El Salvador two decades ago, setting up a thriving program for orphaned and impoverished children in Ethiopia, Africa was most certainly not on his radar. By allowing himself to be led by God, thousands of lives have been touched and forever changed. As we celebrate BCI’s 20th anniversary this year, we look back with gratitude and forward with hope, and with respect for the responsibility of working on behalf of the children of God.

As with the rest of the world, the BCI ministry was tested in new ways during the past year. Our organization has had to adapt to the ever-evolving global crisis, which has challenged us on all fronts. We continue to follow God’s lead and trust that His plan will be done.

With the economic pinch of the pandemic, more families are struggling than ever before. Ensuring that all children on our wait list secure sponsorships is at the top of our priority list at this time. We have children who have been waiting for a year or more and also several with critical needs who God has led to our program in recent weeks, including refugees from the war in the Tigray region.

In honor of the ministry’s 20th anniversary, we are prayerfully seeking sponsorships for 20 children. There are many ways that you can help:

*Pray for the waiting children
*Send a one-time gift to help a child
*Sponsor a child
*Share this newsletter with a friend
*Talk about BCI with those in your circle
*Share BCI’s social media posts on your accounts
*Speak with your church about sponsoring a child
*Co-sponsor a child with a group of family or friends
*Co-sponsor a child with your Bible study group

We feel gratitude for your ongoing support for the precious and vulnerable children of Ethiopia, and we invite you to learn about some of our waiting children, whose stories are included in this newsletter. Please pray for each child to find a sponsorship match.

Catching up with Eyob Teklu

My name is Eyob Teklu. I started in the BCI program in 2008. BCI is my home. I grew up in a better living standard because of BCI. Sponsorship helped me a lot in my childhood. After high school, I graduated from TVT and became a cake baker in Debre Zeyit. Today I am an independent, confident, hard working man because of BCI.

There is a proverb that says “no appreciation is enough for great kindness.” But here, I still want to thank you all for your kindness, which has provided us with hope and courage to live a better life. I would like to express great appreciation on behalf of all those financially sponsored by you.

I am the main pastry chef at Gold Mark International Hotel and a teacher at Bishoftu Hotel Training Center. I am able to provide a good standard of living for myself, my mother and my sister. My plan is to someday own a bakery and hotel training center. I enjoy attending the youth program at church and playing sports in the morning.

To all of you kind people, you help us so we can stand by ourselves. You give us so much love, and I cannot express my gratitude by any words. Through you, God’s love reaches those children who are in difficulty and in need.

Full Circle: A Sponsorship Journey

The story of Mekdes Shisema, by her longtime sponsor, Rick.

My wife, Sheila, and I fell in love with Mekdes (name meaning “temple”) on our second trip to Ethiopia. She was a full orphan. Looking back, we saw potential in her that needed to be brought out. We couldn’t see her having the opportunity to overcome the harshness of her life on her own so we made the decision to welcome Mekdes into our own family. Since then, we’ve seen her through birthdays, braces, university dorm living in Addis Ababa, and university graduation. We’ve met her aunt, some of her extended family, and we’ve taken on her younger brother, Adana.

Since graduating from university, Mekdes has moved into the workforce and is now employed as an English teacher at the Bethlehem campus of the BCI Academy. Her English skills have been fostered by the many English speaking missionaries who have all had a profound impact on her vocabulary. She picks up on the nuances of sarcasm and humor, and some travelers from Texas even tried to teach her a drawl.

Mekdes has faced typical struggles adjusting from the security of the sponsorship program to living as head of household. In fact, she has told us more than once that “adulting” is not as fun as she imagined. As a result of sponsorship, education at the BCI Academy, and the influence of international missionaries, she has been afforded the opportunity to strive for her potential. She is a young adult and will continue to mature with time.

We’ve noticed signs of her maturation by the questions she has begun to ask, such as “how do I manage expectations?” and “what books should I read?” She’s much more observant toward her own culture, with its pluses and minuses, and she’s much more observant of Sheila and I, with our pluses and minuses. She is in the process of discovering a bigger world view than is possible only in the context of one’s own country.

As we reflect back on the past decade of sponsorship, we realize that it has been a two-way street: Mekdes has helped Sheila and I see our potential. The gratitude also goes both ways.

The Power of One

Imagine you’ve spent your last dollar. There is no savings in the bank. No assets to sell. You’re now out of work and your cupboards are bare. You’re hungry, and your neighbors, friends and family are unable to help you because they are facing the same dire situation. Your very survival is at stake.

At the height of your despair, someone comes along and stocks your cupboards with enough food to last you for months. There may be millions of people around the world in the same situation as you, but you’re not a statistic. You are a real person with hunger and heartache and you’ve been handed a life preserver, maybe by someone from halfway around the world whom you’ll never meet on earth. You most certainly would not be feeling like their help was insignificant.

When we look around the world, especially during the unprecedented crisis we are currently facing, we can feel so small and powerless. Our actions can seem insufficient when an entire world is hurting, but we must not lose sight of just how significant it is to make any sort of impact, no matter the size, to ease the suffering of others.
A short time ago, we were faced with 42 families in acute hunger crisis and 200 children out of school and highly vulnerable to the global pandemic. The needs certainly felt overwhelming, but God is good – ALL the time. When we gave the circumstances to Him, He led our donor family to unite, and the actions of many individuals joined together to cover food support for each and every one of our 42 families, protecting entire households from hunger for the duration of the summer.

City officials from Debre Zeyit were present for the distribution of the food support, which took place June 9th and included 220 pounds of food per family. The city officials gave a speech expressing their gratitude for the impact of the ministry’s food support distribution, and shared important health advice.

Discouragement has been rampant in the community, but the gift of food support has given the families a sense of security and restored a feeling of hopefulness about the future. We are grateful for each and every person who made this possible, and for those holding the ministry up in prayer.