December 2015 Update from Zeway

Our latest updates from Zeway have brought us joy in celebrating with the children along with many tears as we mourn the loss of two of our amazing and dearly loved kids. Robdu passed away suddenly due to heart complications. She had been studying at a university to become a teacher. Johannes, whom we have spent years praying for his health, passed away due to complications from AIDS. The last months of his life were spent in and out of hospitals with the CHH staff accompanying him to different cities to find the best care. When his body finally began to shut down, he was able to return home and pass peacefully with this father by his side. We loved both these children and know how precious each of their lives were. They touched so many people, in their own community as well as across the world. They were inspirations to us whenever we visited them and we rejoice in their homecomings.

8596024612_d53d829367_k      8595250421_26bbd7a441_o

(Robdu pictured in green above)


We also received news recently on our children who took 10th grade exams. Three of them, Beniyam, Alembirhan, and Mohammed, passed their exams and now will be furthering their education on a path towards a university in their near future. We praise God for their results. These orphans now have an opportunity to attend college and further themselves and their siblings. Amanu, who took his 12th grade exams, will no be attending a university but is now furthering his education in a local college studying public service. Amanu is an amazing young man who has done so many great things with his life already. We look forward to following him through this next stage.

We learned that Amelework finished her hair dressing training and is now prepared with a skill to provide income for herself.


Negatu (Johannes’s father) is now able to begin working again. He had been home full time caring for his son during his illness. Our program has helped him to begin selling goods at the local market again.


A fun update on one of our children, Edatu. Edatu finally mastered riding her bike. This little girl is such a joy and has so much energy. I’m sure she is thrilled to be racing around Zeway on 2 wheels!


All the children had great starts to the school year and we look forward to updates in the coming months.

Summer Update from Zeway

While on summer break this year, some of our CHH (Child Headed Household) children took on
summer jobs to help supplement the support they receive from our Partnership. Through our
Partnership and the holistic care it provides, these orphans are healthy and motivated to take on
even more responsibility to better themselves and their siblings:

  • Melkete, one of our original CHH children, was employed in a local hospital as a cook. She also delivered food to the patients. Her younger sister, Denebe, took on more household chores to allow her sister this opportunity.  Below is a picture of Melkete helping to feed another CHH child Johannes in the local hospital after he was admitted earlier this summer to treat a fungal infection.
  • Bedilu secured employment for the summer working a horse cart, transporting people throughout Zeway. In addition to the money he earned, he was also provided breakfast and lunch by his employer.Bedilu ride horse cart
  • Samrawit was able to secure summer employment and supplement her large family working at the local flower farm.

While making repairs on the home he shares with his 2 brothers, another CHH child named Dagnachew fell and broke his arm. He has received treatment and is doing better. Pray the break heals completely without any lasting physical limitations.

Johannes, who we have been following closely since our last visit in April, is still struggling to fight off a fungal infection attacking his skin. With a depleted immune system due to HIV and numerous medications, his body is weakened. Pray for complete healing for Johannes.

I Finally Arrived

by Melissa

I have finally arrived in Africa.  The continent I’ve had a longing for.   I didn’t know what to expect and I wasn’t sure what God’s purpose was in choosing me to go on this trip.  I still don’t know my purpose but in one day, I have fallen in love with Ethiopia and it’s people and culture.

My first day was more of a dream.  It didn’t feel real and yet I know my heart and soul have been changed forever.  We started off the day worshipping with the Food for the Hungry (FH) staff.  These men and women have dedicated their lives to helping their people, which is why Hope in Ethiopia (our organization) has partnered with them.  They are a living day example of what James was talking about in James 1:27…”Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  This wasn’t a metaphor.  Orphans have no one to protect or guide them.  And widows lose all the benefits of their husbands.  In this culture, widows and orphans are outcasts.  When you add HIV to that equation, they become completely isolated.  One mother with 5 kids told us that she’s had to move 5 times in the last 2 years because one place would not let her family use the communal water pump.  Another place would not let her family use the communal bathroom.  There is always a reason to ostracize them.   Food for the Hungry and Hope in Ethiopia go against these cultural prejudices by loving each family despite their circumstances.  FH counsels all of these children and their mothers.  They help carry their burdens…burdens that we in the US would probably not be able to handle.  FH helps these families learn how to sustain themselves and build a future.  It is not a handout.  It IS ongoing unconditional love, financial support and guidance for the “least of these”.  It is what Jesus commanded us to do.  I look forward to the day I meet these FH workers in heaven where they can share all of their stories of triumph with me.


Gibril 2015Our first visit was with the K. family, which consists of 5 siblings.  These children have no parents and are the true definition of a child headed household.  Four of these siblings live together in a one room “house” they rent.  This room is the size of my bathroom.  There are two mattresses on the floor, neatly made.  And one small desk that holds their 6 plates, 4 cups, cooking utensils and food containers.  The floor is a dirt floor covered by what I would call cabinet liners and a rug.  They own nothing. The oldest brother is now 16 and the middle brother is 14.  When the boys were 7 and 5, their parents separated.  Their dad took the boys to another town and their mom kept the three girls in Zeway (the girls are currently 13, 10 and 5).  Their dad hired the boys out as cattle herders for $25/year which was extremely hard labor for them and they could not attend school.  One day while the boys were washing their clothes in the river, their mom came to them and they ran away with her back to Zeway.  Soon after, their mother became sick with diabetes.  She died in 2010 and the five kids were left on their own.  They had a grandmother but she was too poor to take them in.  However, she did take in the youngest child as she was still a baby (all kids three years old and under have to go to an orphanage) with the intention to send her to her siblings when she turned five.  She turned five this year, however, the grandmother is still taking care of her.  She gets to visit with her siblings often and is still part of their family.  The local church heard about their mother’s death and helped them out until FH entered the picture.   With the FH child headed household program, these kids are able to go to school because FH pays for their school supplies.  They are able to have shelter because FH pays their rent and utilities and water bills.  They are able to start the healing process of losing their mother by attending the weekly grief and counseling sessions where all the kids come together to share their stories and build a safe and understanding community.  Their FH social worker has also gone above and beyond all job requirements.  He and his wife have loved these kids as their own.  They moved the kids so they would be closer to his family.  His wife would get up at 4:30 am to teach the boys how to make bread.  The boys have now taught their sisters.   When I met these kids, they were full of joy.  They did not feel sorry for themselves or hopeless.  And all of this is because of Jesus.  They love Him with all their hearts and know that He is with them every second of every day.  They find their hope, the only true hope that lasts, in Him.  The oldest brother wants to be a petty trader, or salesman, and work for himself.  The middle brother wants to be a scientist and do research.  The two older girls love science.  This family is such an inspiration to me. They keep each other safe and hold each other accountable.  They all contribute to the family in their own special way by cooking, running errands, cleaning the house, washing clothes and dishes.  Surviving is a daily struggle for them yet they do it in such grace because of the grace that Jesus has bestowed amongst them.

Then we went to visit B.  She is 19 and lives alone.

b 2015When the Hope in Ethiopia team visited her two years ago, they said she cried the whole time and never smiled.  In two years, B is smiling.  She is so grateful for the FH program as she says that the grief and counseling sessions have helped her start healing by allowing her to connect with other children and hear their stories.  She knows now that she doesn’t have the worst life as she previously thought.  B’s mother died while working as a house maid when B was 8.  She was hanging clothes on a clothesline when an electric wire came in contact with her and she was electrocuted.  B went to live with her aunt.  At this point, B was a part of the FH child sponsorship program, however, the aunt was keeping B’s ration

s to herself, refused her to go to school and treated B badly.  At one point, B contemplated suicide.  She eventually ran away from her aunt and a very poor woman with her own children to take care of took her in.  This woman was a Christian and insisted B go to church with her.  B was an Orthodox Christian and didn’t want to have anything to do with a relationship with Jesus but she went.  For a while, she fought back spiritually.  B met a social worker from FH who convinced her to join the child headed household program (which would mean she would have to leave this woman’s home as you can’t be a part of this program if you live with an adult who can help support you).  This social worker and B became like family and he counseled her as if she were his daughter.  After a while, B thought about all the good people in her life (her social worker, the poor woman) and realized they were all Christians and loved her in a way no one else had.  So she gave her life to Jesus and now wants to give back to others all that she has been given.  B used to wonder why she didn’t die with her mother, however, now she sees hope and a purpose for her life that she has never seen before.   Her smile says it all.

This is just a glimpse of these amazing survivors…we are so lucky to have met these wonderful, generous people and to have shared their lives with them.

From their perspective

By Dawn Patterson

It’s one thing to share the stories of Hope in the Hope in Ethiopia
ministry.  But then we got to thinking…..what are their stories?
How do they feel about this ministry?  We did a brief interview with
Bezawork Lakew who is the director of the Child Head of Household
program, Zeway


Before the CHH program came to Zeway what were some of the biggest
problems you saw for the Children?

Children were in great grief and trauma due to the life they were
living.  They were abandoned and in a desperate situation.  They had
problems getting to school.  Food, clothes, and getting house rent
were some of the problems observed and some of them were getting their
food by begging.  They were not healthy in their physical development
and they didn’t have money to go to health institute when they got

What has been the biggest change in the children since CHH was brought to Zeway?
After the CHH Program started children felt relieved about their
“tomorrow”.   They feel hope, and their grief and trauma is eased due
to the support of their social worker. They go to school and learn in
a stable condition.  They are growing healthy and get medication when
they get sick.

Why was the defacto orphan program started and do you feel it has helped?
The defacto program started because Children were living in HIV
positive families and one day if their family passed away they would
surely became child head of household with in a desperate situation.
Even before their family passed away children were living in fear of
being abandoned if their bed ridden family passed away. So to treat
children ahead and to help them to get relief and not feel anxious
about their situation, we started defacto CHH program.  For example
“Belayenesh” a mother of two Children passed away after she entered
the program and was getting support for a certain period of time. Her
two Children namely Meserete Alemayehu and Samuel Habtamu, are now in
the program and they are continuing their education and their
relatives are serving as their guardians.  The children did not have
to wait for care because they were already in the program.

What is the hardest part of your job on this point?
The hardest part has been when the children reach adolescence.  It is
hard to guide them because they are deceived by peer influence.  These
children come from hard life conditions and their parents were
prostitutes, addicted to chat and alcohol and other hard situations.

Can you share one small story of “hope” that has really blessed you?
The story of hope I want to share you is that the involvement of the
church to support the orphans. The program by itself challenged the
church to see their call and what they are doing. Leaders repented in
most of our training focused on Care for orphans, poor and the widow.
Some Churches of Zeway and metro started to care for orphans and
widows. Let me share you the case of Bulbula church. The Church
prepared a special service for CHH living in Bulbula every Saturday.
Danie, one of the Elders in the church that serves CHH and taught a
lesson on salvation for big boys and Girls.  The small Children are
learned about the  Bible in pictorial representation.  They have also
a program arranged by the Church to visit each other on Friday once a
week and they go to home visits to visit their friends together with
their Sunday class teacher and share joys together and see each other.
 Daniel an elder in Bulbula Meserete kiristos church knows each CHH
home and visits each of them.   It is because of this, we have hope
for this program to be sustained locally.  Children even came to
Christ because of the example Teshome Tadesse showed (the brother of
Asnakech) when he received Jesus as his own lord and savior. Asnakech
his sister is now serving in Choir. Aynalem (defacto orphan) who was
leading a very desperate life also received Jesus Christ as her
savior.  Most of the Children living in Bulbula are now going to
Church every Saturday and showed an increasing interest to be in
Church. So we give praise to God for all this.

Finally I would like to share you some of the prayer request.

  • So please pray that Children to live a stable life & attain their future, to be hopeful and resist the challenges they face from peer influence.
  • Pray for social workers that God give them wisdom to lead these children into the best future.
  • Pray for Zeway Church Leaders to expand what they started and for those who are not active in holistic service especially for Adami Tulu leaders to start holistic ministry and give care for orphans and widows in their Church.

God bless You

The Evangelist

By Scott Thacker

Whether by nature or by nurture (probably both) I am a skeptic.  This doubter’s view permeates all of my life, even spiritual things.  To be clear, it is not that I doubt the existence of God; I’m all in on Him.   But I do often doubt the things people claim that God is a part of.  In my head (never out loud) I question the validity when people claim “this was God”.  How do they know that it was God that made their cold get better?  How do they know that it was God that caused them to meet up with an old friend in an airport?  Many people see God in these things; I question, “Is He really there?”

Believe me; I don’t like being a skeptic.  While there is value in questioning things, it is not much fun to live your whole life on the pessimistic side of the glass.  So when I see things where there is no other explanation than God himself, I grab on to them.   When we were in Ethiopia in June I got to see one of those things.

Me, Miki (back), Sami (front)

We were at the end of a long day and making one last visit to a new de facto family in our Partnership.  The mother’s name is Meseret and she has three children – all boys.  We spent time visiting with Meseret and hearing the story of her husband’s death from HIV and the pain of being shunned by her family for also being a carrier of the disease.  She then introduced us to her children: Seadam, Miki and Sami.  When she got to Miki she said, “He is the evangelist”.  It’s not often you hear a six-year-old being called “the evangelist” so I was curious to hear more.  She told us how Miki had almost died when he was younger, and that she had told God that she would give Miki to Him if He would save his life.  Despite the doubts of the doctors, Miki survived and Meseret pledged him to the Lord.  She told us stories of Miki and how he shares Jesus with the homeless, how he prays for the sick and how he proclaims the truth of Jesus throughout Zeway (see video below).

Really?  All of this from a six-year-old?  It sounded like a great story, but it felt embellished.  I’ve got kids that age…I know what six-year-olds are like…they are not out on the street corner sharing Jesus with the homeless.  My doubting heart would have stayed there, but then I heard Miki pray.  This little boy, whose body is strained by the scars of his own HIV, prayed like an adult mature in his faith and understanding of the Lord.  Was God there?  No other way to explain it.

A friend told me recently that you need to remember the faithfulness of God.  Like God told Israel, build a monument of stone to remember how He has delivered us.  That way, when you are in doubt, you can think back to those times and believe again.  This friend also told me to look for God in your everyday life – in the sway of the trees, the kindness of a stranger, the prayer of a child.  Is He there?  I sure hope so.

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


Christmas for the Orphans

Christmas in Ethiopia is celebrated on January 7th in accordance to the Orthodox calendar.  At this time families come together to celebrate Jesus’ birth  and fellowship with family and friends over feasts of food. Unlike the U.S., gifts are not exchanged and the entire focus of Christmas is on the birth of Jesus, family, and friends.  There is a true spirit of Christmas there as tthe attention is not given to Santa, gifts, and sparkly baubles.

But for the the orphans this can be a particularly difficult time because of families gathering.  The loneliness and isolation sets in even stronger during special holidays like Christmas.  Because of this, the social workers make special arrangements for the Hope in Ethiopia orphans to attend a retreat where they can enjoy their time together and take the focus off of their difficult lives.

This Christmas, Bezawork, Director of the Child Headed Household Partnership, shared that the children were taken to Sodere Resort on buses to relax and enjoy each other as a family. Bezawork says ” The children were very happy to play in the water and have hot water showers.” The social workers also took time during this retreat to give “purpose and hope” training.

During these discussions, Bezawork was very encouraged by the children’s responses.He said that because of Chala, an orphan who recently graduated high school and is now attending college, the children are understanding what kind of future they can truly have. “They are considering their education much more thoughtfully,” Bezawork said.

Please continue praying that these orphans fully realize their future and hope!

Ibsa’s X-ray

Click to Enlarge

This is a picture of Ibsa’s hand. He injured his hand during a soccer game and he went to the FH offices to see if someone could help. Typically, Ibsa would not have seen that as an option, but with the support of the partnership, medical care is very much an option.

It seems simple enough to fix a sprained or broken finger, but many cases in Zeway and other parts of Ethiopia, it isn’t simple at all. Many children who break a finger, arm or foot when young never get it medically treated and the bone realigns improperly and causes other related problems. It is very common to see a foot or a finger that has healed in a crooked and painful way.

We are thankful for the support of the partnership that Ibsa had his hand x-rayed and treated properly. He should be well on his way to recovery.