Shining A Light on the Dark Continent

Dave and his team visit a Compassion International site in Ethiopia

 

Dave meets with the Addis Alem Compassion Project staff, from left Desalengi, Dave, Yidnekachew, and Fekadu
Dave meets with the Addis Alem Compassion Project staff, from left Desalengi, Dave, Yidnekachew, and Fekadu

 

Back in 2001 when our twin daughters were 15 years old, they decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International. They heard about the program from the band, The Newsboys, during a concert in Minot, ND. The girls received the name of Medina Hyderen of Addis Alem, Ethiopia. For the next 10 years, one or both girls faithfully sent in money every month to help out Medina and her family.

Scroll ahead ten years when Dave finds himself traveling to Ethiopia while deployed in Djibouti. Our daughter, Alanna, informed him that was where Medina was and asked if there was any chance he could visit her. Dave made the necessary connections and finally, on March 11, 2011, he met Medina and her family.

Children from the Compassion project greet Dave and his team in Addis Alem
Children from the Compassion project greet Dave and his team in Addis Alem

 

Compassion International is the world’s leading authority in holistic child development through sponsorship. Compassion revolutionized the fight against global poverty by working exclusively with the Church to release children from poverty so that they may become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. It is the only child sponsorship program to be validated through independent, empirical research. Compassion partners with more than 6,900 churches in 26 countries to release over 1.7 million babies, children and young adults from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Dave was impressed by the project office in Addis Alem. At the time, the project had 263 children enrolled and all but eight of those children had Compassion sponsors. Only one child in each household is sponsored by Compassion, but the money – $38 a month – is used to care for the child and their family.

“The donated money pays for education, food, health care, medicine, clothing and other things,” Dave said. These are the primary things, although the needs depend on the individual child and their family as well as location, according to Becca Bishop of Compassion International.

Students learn trades like sewing at the Compassion Project
Students learn trades like sewing at the Compassion Project

 

“The focus is always on the individual child and his or her needs. Education is the primary component that every child receives. Many of these children would not be able to attend school, for many varying reasons, without the help of Compassion,” Bishop said.

The project kept very good records including a notebook with all the correspondence between Medina and our daughters. They also recorded the holiday and birthday money sent to Medina in addition to the monthly donation.

The children attend the project, housed in a church, on Saturdays for church school and church. The project managers monitor school grades, health check-ups, physical fitness, family life, and spiritual life of each of the children who attend.

A traditional coffee service is prepared.
A traditional coffee service is prepared.

 

Dave and his team concluded the visit to the site with a meal of bread, cookies, popcorn and “very strong” Ethiopian coffee, before heading over to Medina’s home.

 

Up next: Spending time with Medina’s family

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