5 Under 12

5 under 12.That’s how many children (and their ages) who are living in a one-room mud home in Zeway, Ethiopia, one of several we visited as a family two weeks ago. 12-year-old Gibril, his 10-year old brother Deta, their two elementary-aged sisters, and their 2-year old sister lost their mother shortly after the youngest was born, and their father has been gone since before then. The huge smile that is ever-present on Gibril’s face belies the grief he and his siblings must be feeling and the burden he now carries as the head of household for what is left of his family. We’ve visited dozens of orphan-headed households in Zeway over the last 4 years, and this one is definitely the largest single family of orphans we have met, with the youngest sibling at only 2 years old, and yet somehow a sense of peace seemed to fill their home.

Jibril, Deta and sisters

The blessings of our Hope in Ethiopia partnership have been bestowed on these kids, both in formal ways (food support, grief counseling, school materials and clothes, etc.) and in informal ways. You see, the individual who first prayed many years ago for God to intervene on behalf of the orphans in Zeway, a man named Tilahun, has been adopting and caring for orphans both on the job and off. He and his wife, who have formally and informally adopted several children in Zeway, live near Gibril and his siblings. She visits them daily to help them prepare food and to check on them, and Tilahun has become something of a God-father to them. I’ve known Tilahun for many years now, and I’m beginning to believe that he is a 5’1’’ angel of the Lord working quietly in disguise in Zeway.

Written by Matt Kouri


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