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These are the 11 street boys that form the Anbesa Club started by an American woman, Christina, who describes her calling this way. “He said “go”… with no church family behind me, no husband to lead me, and no money to provide for me… even with no clear plan of why I was going. The passport for my son miraculously was granted, the money for plane tickets miraculously showed up. “Be my witness, I will send them to you” was the only plan/mission I was given. Jesus had to be my focus, after all it is He who is the way the truth and life, nothing else.” So she worked with the street boys daily for 5 months before the enemy attacked the mission and she had to return to the states because of serious health problems. She had heard of what the Lord was doing in our lives and mailed us a plea to help along with a description of the boys to our PO Box in Hawassa. She requested us to pray whether we might help these boys continue in the plan and purpose she had to spiritually and materially raise them out of the desperate poverty in which they were living. Upon receiving the information we found the boys at the Manharia bus station and later brought a university friend to evaluate the possibility of resurrecting the plan the Lord had given her. We need to hire a case manager to monitor the small profits they make from their street jobs so they can pay for a room in which to cook their food and safely sleep. Then they needed football jerseys on which would be printed the name Club Anbesa and a ball in order to maintain the only semblance of belonging to a family since being displaced from their own families because of poverty and other extraordinary circumstances. Pray that we may receive favor from local government officials to legally help these kids to work, stay in night school and grow in the grace of the Lord to arise above the dangers of street life and the crippling affects of poverty on their destinies in the Lord. Although caseload management of street children may be a common idea in most western nations, the vision and mission given to Christina has not even appeared on the horizon in Ethiopia. Legal help is only seen as housing children in expensive and strictly regulated NGO facilities. Pray for wisdom and favor!!!

The weekend following Ethiopian Christmas, we took the Bethel boys to the Lake Hawassa for a fish feed. The lakeside has become very popular as many small shops have sprung up making it difficult to find enough chairs to sit and enjoy the atmosphere yet, our friend Chombe wielded his charms and influence and soon all 23 of us gathered around the fried fish platters and enjoyed the deep fried Talapia caught from our beautiful lake. At dusk we headed back to our house, projected the movie, “Gladiator”, on a big screen and served fandesha (popcorn) and cookies to all 18 of us. I thought, this will probably be the closest thing to a movie theater these youth will ever experience.

The time between our Western and Ethiopian Christmases spans two weeks and each culture gets to demonstrate what the season means to them. At Bethel we invited all the financially struggling families to our compound and the children received a T-shirt and school supplies. Throughout the day we visited the families of friends who had invited us to celebrate with them and enjoyed injera and doro wat, the traditional Christmas dishes of Ethiopia. It was an especially long day for us as our church, Christ Embassy, began celebrating Ethiopian Christmas Eve at 11 pm and we celebrated until 4 a.m. on Christmas day. You can see that the Lord had sustained us as no tiredness can be detected on Claire’s face; I assure you mine looked the same!!! All the families that appeared at this Christmas celebration are those that Bethel is helping keep their children in school. The families are so destitute that, prior to being in the home-to-home supervision program, the parents would send their children to beg in the streets instead of permitting them to go to school. By supporting the family with a stipend of 300 birr ($15) per month, the parents agree to keep their children in school. This benefits the children as they can get an education and stay off the streets while the family can better meet the basic needs of their children. It’s hard for people of developed nations to believe that so little support can have such a beneficial impact on the life of these impoverished families. We hope to soon give those who want to help in such efforts, an opportunity to do so by establishing a non-profit corporation in the United States through which contributions can be made and more families will be able to keep their children in school and off the streets.

href=””>We Love Care Packages
We are so appreciative of the help we receive, not from just our friends we have made here in Ethiopia, but also from our family supporting us with their prayers and gifts from abroad. We opened a Christmas care package from my sister and brother-in-law, Claudia and Ken, and in it she had thoughtfully inserted 2 dresses that two of our girls, Tigist and Beti, just loved!!! Things have greatly changed in Beti’s life; she first only wanted to be known by her muslim name, Hikma, but as she began to meet and admire the changes the Bethel Street boys had made in their lives and attended their Christian church, she decided to become a Christian and changed her name to Beti, meaning Bethlehem in Amharic. She started to attend our church, Christ Embassy, and we have had the privilege of seeing the depth of worship the Lord has worked in her heart as she kneels before Him and at other times dances and praises Him with total abandonment. She still struggles with submitting to authority figures, which she seems to have been lacking in her earlier childhood, but we believe that she’s developing the discipline and character she needs to have a prosperous life. Beti comes from a tiny village Agwamariam; her parents split up and both abandoned their five children forcing them to live together with few resources. At the time Beti was 9-years-old and was deceitfully put on a bus by her older brother who paid a friend to drop her in our town, Hawassa, to live on the streets and make her own way. We found her living near the bus station and eager to be adopted into a safer environment. She’s 12 now and will be entering first grade in a few weeks after being tutored 4 hours per day for 3 months in Amharic language, Math and English. I can’t express the joy it brings us to see children who did not have much of a future receive the tools and opportunities necessary to become anything they want to be.

Here our girls are eating with Sabla, the daughter of another family that we are helping survive the extreme poverty of Southern Ethiopia. The girls appreciate the support they are receiving but still struggle with treating each other kindly. If we hadn’t had the support of all our Amharic-speaking friends whom we have made over the past year to mediate arguments, we couldn’t have made it through the 3 months it took to finally open Bethel Girls Home. They will be the oldest girls in the house and will naturally lead the younger girls. Over those months we hope they have developed some of the necessary character and commitment to succeed as leaders and role-models of the younger girls who will be adopted into the house.

DSC04461Meet Hikama (Beite) and Tigist
We are moving forward!!! In the first week of November, Getachew, Claire and I went out to familiarize ourselves with the plight of girls living on the streets of Hawassa. We started at the Manharia (bus Station) and Claire recognized a girl, Hikama, that she had met the previous week and had been living on the streets for over a year. While we were talking with her another girl, Tigist appeared and, as Getachew was questioning her, we found out that she had been thrown out of the home in which her parents had arranged for her to work that very morning; it is common for parents in the surrounding poor rural villages suffering under severe poverty to make such arrangements. Some police officers agreed to watch the two girls while we went to the Womens and Children’s Affairs Office to inquire how we could help. We talked with the director and found that the standard procedure was to house them in a temporary shelter until a determination could be made to return them to their families or place them in an NGO, if the home is not appropriate. I had heard of children running from the shelter and returning to the dangers of the streets, so after expressing this concern to the director, we received permission to temporarily house them in our home until we could open our new home for girls in January 2014. They came home with us that night and we learned first hand of the challenges and blessings of helping street girls adopt a new life! This is a picture of Hikama and Tigist the first day we accepted them into our home.