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These 7 youth celebrated our western Christmas with us in our home. They graduated from a training program mentioned in our previous post and we wanted to reward them. They are now living securely in their rooms and paying their own food and rent costs, even saving money for their next desired purchase. We gave them their transportation money to visit their families over Ethiopian New Year and they promised to be back 3 days after Ethiopian Christmas beginning on Jan. 7,2015 on the western calendar to continue their education here in Hawassa. They are still happy to be attending government night school and as donations and work permit, may begin attending half-day school soon. We are hoping some of them will want to help the 2nd cycle of boys coming through the new-and-improved training program but at this stage they really don’t understand the accomplishment they have achieved in becoming self-sufficient. Christmas Photo Eating Cake

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Here are 4 street boys (from right to left – Bereket, Habtamu, Cherenet and Segai) washing my motorbike. They graduated from the training program as stated in our last entry in August and now they are in a 2 month support program, where they are learning practical methods of business management (i.e. saving enough money each day until they can pay their rent and have enough money for food throughout the following month). They also opened their group association bank accounts according to the type of businesses in which they are engaged, allowing them to save money to either expand their present business or engage in another. They are living together in groups of 3 boys to a room and learning to resolve their conflicts, cook their food and follow the instructions of their caseload managers. From the first cycle of 32 graduates another 10 boys left the support program after being placed in their rooms and given an inventory of products to sell on the street. The boys face many practical and spiritual problems which their managers often never know about until they suddenly leave. Some return to their addictions or some decide to sell their own or steal the merchandise of others with whom they are living as a get rich scheme. We have learned much through this first cycle of street children and will make adjustments in both the screening and training of the next cycle of boys. The remaining 20 boys are still struggling with their businesses but are willing to help train and prepare the next cycle of candidates for the challenges from which they have learned.

Meet Addisu, another graduate in the support program. He was approved by the local government officials to sell on this favorable busy street in Hawassa but 3 weeks after beginning the business he was cased out by 4 older boys and robbed of all his merchandise and money. This is a lesson for all the other boys to sell together even though they might not like the competition with each other. He’s wearing his jacket and carrying his ID card that identifies him as a graduate of this highly approved program by the local officials. The boys need to make $1.50/day to pay for their rent and food for the month. The rest goes into their savings account to realize any future dreams. One of the hardest temptations is to delay immediate gratification of desired purchases in ordr to build up capital and prosper later. Another challenge is to aggressively sell your product and develop a joyful, expectant attitude that stirs compassion in those passing by. Some have this business presence naturally and others have to learn it in staged practice dramas.

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One month before I left for the United States, two friends came to me and presented an idea to offer support to train 40 street children and eventually help them become self-sufficient and productive members of Hawassa. They both were working in local organizations, which they had founded called Concern for Street Children Association (CSCA) and Bright Light Missions (BLM) to help a small number of children, 8 and 10 respectively. The model that they proposed to me was based on the CSCA model which had been working for over 9 months where street children would attend school half of the day and work the remaining time in small businesses so they could pay their rent and food costs under the supervision of concerned adults.They proposed that they would select 40 children to receive training in character development, life skills and small business management in a training center where, besides the training, they would receive two meals per day and recreational activities (i.e. football and volleyball). After hearing of their vision, I agreed to arrange for funding through our connections for the month we were in the United States and thereafter we would evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot project.

Upon returning from the United States we met with our friends again and discovered that, after getting approval with local officials, they had arranged a rent-free training site at a local governmental school during the school’s vacation break, had selected the 40 children and of all who had been attending the training daily, only 4 of the children had dropped from the program. They had arranged to reduce the food costs of the program by 50% as they had procured donations from local restaurants. They further reported that 10 of the children had been experiencing persecution for wanting to stop their addictions and needed a safe place to sleep. As a result, they had arranged for the remaining 36 children to sleep at another government school so they could sleep safely at night.

The picture shown here is at a football game between the street boys in the training center and the boys in the two transitional homes of our friends. They all had been given new football jerseys and shoes by a government donation because of the high favor the innovative project has received. The next phase of the program will begin soon when the boys begin to develop their own businesses and move into rooms in groups of 3-4 per room and begin being supervised in the community by a caseload manager. IMG_6393

 

Tegegn and Berket's Rooms

A Working Model

We have been seeking a new and less expensive model for helping street children since becoming acquainted with the Anbesa Club previously mentionaed on our blog. By divine appointment, while inviting people to our Sunday evening service at the Pinna Hotel, I met Yadessa Negero, who worked with Christina, who started the Anbesa Club. As we were getting to know each other before the meeting, all the information that connected us both to this vision the Lord had given Christina unfolded. Since that time Claire and I visited the above home started by Yadessa and his associates. The home has been in operation for several months and they have become almost self-sustaining with a few setbacks caused by the manipulative and deceptive attitudes that are common with boys who have been on the streets for years. Through the God-given discernment and wisdom he receives, Yadessa is thoroughly aware of the earmarks of such remnant thinking in his daily conversations with the 8 boys he supervises and consensual agreements are instituted. It has been a blessing for us to know the Lord’s vision is being divinely supported as we move forward with supporting the Anbesa Boys.

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Thank you Efren. Here’s a video worth a thousand words. May the Spirit of God shed abroad in our hearts the love for the poor and may we share the power and authority that each of us has received from the Lord’s victory over poverty, sickness and death we have inherited. Although we are helping such people wherever we go, our message is this authority we have inherited. As Jesus said to His neighbors in Nazereth (Lk. 4:21-24), “You will surely say this proverb to Me, Physician heal yourself …” There is a spiritual purpose in Jesus saying this, as He walked in divine health and knew the importance of believeing the words of His Father’s Spirit that we must experience the power of divine healing before we can impart it to others. We must know that we have the power over the enemies’ testing of us in the areas of poverty, sickness and death!!!

We Are Bethel Girl's Home

We have been living in extremely impoverished conditions but now are sleeping in beds and have moved in with many of our friends who lived in the same neighborhood. Here we are altogether!!! Our house mom, Zem Zem is in the middle and we are experiencing her unconditional love and patience; we have never lived in a structured environmrnt like this so there are many things we don’t understand regarding the behavior that is expected of us. Our big sisters, Tigist and Beite are at our flanks and always helping our mom  correct us and direct us. Tigist is very important in this team effort because she speaks Wylitenna, the language of most of us and one that is not spoken by many in this Sidama region of Ethiopia.

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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!!!

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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.

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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.