By Shelly Wilson
It's amazing to be back in this country! We've started most of our mornings since being here with devotions centered around hope and I definitely feel like that is what God has been revealing to our team as each day has unfolded here. Our first stop today was at a large orphanage for girls ages 8-18.
Last year at this time we were able to deliver 350 new mattresses to this same orphanage. Since being able to initially visit this orphanage over a year ago, the storyteller teams have been a part of helping to build 6 new latrines, two shower buildings, and a covered shed for drying clothes. What a blessing that God has allowed our teams to come alongside these girls and help them with some very basic needs. I was definitely filled with hope as we toured the orphanage today especially considering the complete lack of these items previously.
We had a lot of quality time today with the girls making paper airplanes, playing soccer and frisbee, drawing pictures, and braiding hair!
After eating our packed lunch at a city park, we moved on to our second orphanage. It was a smaller orphanage but filled with some amazing kids and nannies. This orphanage was doing a really great job with their special needs kids especially considering the limited resources. All the kids were a family and the special needs kids were included and not just shut off in a room. It was filled with hope. We were able to have a really good conversation with the director and it helped shed some light on how some of this convoluted process works. Unfortunately, the drastic decrease in adoptions that are being allowed has resulted in the shutting down of partner orphanages in Addis and throughout the country. This has also affected the sponsorship programs that were facilitated through those orphanages. It is a struggle for these orphanages to be sustainable when most of their funding comes from adoption fees. However, they had great programs in place for reunification, foster care, and reintegration for when these children turn 18 and are turned out of the orphanage. I was hopeful as I listened to this director passionately discuss his love for the kids here and creatively working to provide programs and plan for ways to continue to care for them.
Our day ended with dinner and birthday dessert for our lovely team member, Mariah! She turned 21 today and I know she enjoyed spending her special day loving on some really special kids! The pizza I had was phenomenal and I had baclava for the first time ever!
"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him." Psalm 62:5