Sipara’s Story: Ashes to Joy.

Sipara* grew up in a rural part of  Ethiopia.  As a little girl she used to make traditional baskets from grass.  However, one day her hand slipped as she was making a basket, and she accidentally punctured her left eye with the needle.  This accident left her blind in one eye and led to her no longer being able to continue in school, so she dropped out.

A few years later, Sipara’s mother started to suffer from a disease in her eyes, so Sipara brought her Mom to Addis Ababa to receive treatment.  Doctors performed surgery on her eyes, but the surgery was unsuccessful and her condition got worse.   Within a short time, her Mother became completely blind.

This blindness left Sipara’s Mom totally dependent on Sipara who was also struggling with her own disability.  They decided to not return to their home in the rural area because her Mom’s blindness would be seen as a curse from the gods whom the locals sacrifice to and because she would now be an extra burden on the family.  Mom’s blindness would mean that she could not bring water from the river, nor could she prepare meals any longer, so she would be an extra load on her family members.  Instead, Sipara’s Mom preferred to resettle in Addis Ababa with Sipara.  She became a beggar begging along the roadside and in front of Ethiopian Orthodox churches. Early every morning, Sipara took her Mom to a spot to beg and then late in the evening, she took her back to their room where they stayed overnight.

After dropping her Mom off each morning, Sipara would go to work washing clothing as well as doing daily labor work on construction sites.  However, one day while working on a construction site, Sipara was raped by someone at work and became pregnant.  After she became pregnant, she had to quit her work and only took her Mom back and forth to the begging place each day.  Sipara became dependent on her Mom’s begging in order to survive until she gave birth to her child.

After Sipara gave birth, she started to beg together with her Mom and her little baby, Yordanos*.  Their situation was desperate as all dignity had been stolen from their family through one tragedy after another.

It was at this time that Sipara heard about Embracing Hope Ethiopia’s free Day Care and other supports. Early one morning, Sipara arrived at our offices, dressed in filthy clothes and really depressed about her situation.  She reached out in the midst of desperation and she was provided with various holistic supports including; basic needs, intensive counseling  and medical care.  The immediate holistic intervention became a foundation for her to be able to change her future life.  And for her daughter, Yordanos, instead of staying the whole day in the sun and unsafe and dirty places while her mother was begging, she now was provided a clean and safe Day Care Center where she received nutritious meals, medical care, early childhood education and socialization in order to grow healthy and be happy as a child. 

That scene occurred 4 1/2 years ago, but today life is much different for their family.  EH’s local staff stepped in to provide basic needs and Day Care, which freed Sipara to work, while also no longer needing to worry about her child’s care, nutrition and clothing.  Sipara welcomed trainings and social work that helped her to leave begging and start working as a daily laborer and cleaner.  Today, she earns 1,600 ETB ($60) monthly and pays 600 ETB in rent.  While she still is poor materially compared to so many, she is paying her rent and has a totally different outlook on life.

This outlook means that she has been able to buy her own household items while also helping her Mom and Brother.  Recently, she took some of her savings to help her brother with 7,000 ETB to open a small shop so that he could run his own business in the rural area.  Sipara wants her Brother to have a different life, too.  While supporting her mother and brother, Sipara also opened a bank account and started saving money for herself and Yordanos’ future life.  Her savings have now reached 15,146 ETB ($550)!

Sipara’s dignity and hope have been restored and she has gained great confidence to work and bring change in her life. She also has seen her child, Yordanos, thrive.  Today, Yordanos is a healthy, full-of-life Grade 1 Student in Embracing Hope’s School who has a future hope that her Mom did not have growing up.

Because of your support: a Family has been preserved, a potential orphan has been prevented and dignity has been restored for this family as they have moved from begging to being productive.  Thank you!

Help us to help others like Sipara and Yordanos. Please spread the word about Family Sponsorship and the many families we need sponsors for. You can view those families at www.EmbracingHopeEthiopia.com/sponsorships/

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of this family.

From Young and Desperate to a Graduate and employed.

In October, 2011 our Staff first met Mulu* and her daughter while we were adding new families in need. When Embracing Hope staff visited Mulu’s home, they found that she, her Mother and her daughter were all living in one small mud room that was built over the toilet hole. The toilet was overflowing all over the place making it a filthy and desperate place.

They were living in this kind of room out of necessity because he room rent price was less than the other rooms which were suitable to live in. They could not afford a better place because the whole family was living off of Mulu’s Mom income that she received from begging. They could not survive on what she was providing.

Mulu was not working because she was still a high school student. While in High School, she had a boyfriend and became pregnant. During her pregnancy period, she tried several times to abort, but was not able to because she could not afford the abortion payment. In the end she gave birth. After she gave birth, she dropped out of school and stayed at home with her child. When we met Mulu, she was discouraged, and hopeless.

Embracing Hope Staff intervened by providing Day Care and nutrition for Mulu’s daughter. She started to grow holistically and started to thrive. As she grew older she moved up into the Nursery School and into the Elementary School.

Mulu also was provided with a wide range of holistic, practical supports. As a result of these supports, Mulu was free to continue her education while also making handicrafts to help provide for her family. She studied in High School part time and eventually graduated. After graduation, she joined the Teachers Training College. Embracing Hope was privileged to pay Mulu’s school fee, food, medical fee and continued support and education for her daughter.

It was a day filled with great joy when Mulu graduated from Teacher’s Training College with her diploma!! After graduation Mulu got a job as a teacher and was assigned a school that was too far from Kore’ for them to continue in Embracing Hope’s school. However, now this family is in a much different spot and they are thriving!

**Name has been changed in order to protect identity.

A Country Wide Trip with TEENAGERS

Last summer we made a coast to coast trip with our 6 children (and a 7th on the way) that was amazing. Our 18,000 mile trip had many high points…and some low points where we all got on each others’ nerves. There were days where one (or all of us) had had enough and we were ready to quit. There were meltdowns (the kids had some, too) and a few tantrums, but overall it was a great time for our family.

Here are takeaways for every member of our family.

1. Enjoy the Journey.
When you have another 5 hour drive to get to the next city where you will set up the same stuff you tore down yesterday, listen to your father give the talk for the 42nd time and then head off to stay in another home of strangers…you have to enjoy the journey.

We found markers to help along the way such as National Parks and special treats…but overall we were learning together that while the journey is not always easy, we still can enjoy the ride.

2. Iron sharpens Iron.
There’s nothing like being cooped up together in the same vehicle for 90 days straight to bring out your own character flaws. Again and again we got to learn the value of civility and the power of forgiveness. We were rude toward each other at times…and then we got to practice what it means to work through difficult relationships toward reconciliation.

And then we got to practice again the next day on how to better relate the first time around.

3. God Surprised Us.
We set out with a huge amount of support to raise. But with excitement our kids would get in the van and say, “Dad, guess what! Those people really love what we do.” Or, “Mom and Dad, we got families sponsored tonight!” Again and again we saw God’s provision in the big ways.

But we also saw it in the smaller ways, too. We stayed with people who had access to swimming pools or boats or bikes or hiking trails. We had people treat us to ice cream and others take us out for a special Ethiopian meal or make one of our favorites. And our kids saw Our Good Father’s provision for us as He surprised us again and again.

4. Stay Engaged.
We declared our van to be an electronics free zone for most of the journey. So, no games, no screens, no videos and no headphones. It forced us to interact as a family. We listened to music and sang along. At other times most everyone took a nap. We had multiple conversations going on at one time…and other times it was dead quiet.

But the desire was for us to try to stay engaged. We did not have an option to check out on the journey, but rather we would stay engaged as a family sojourning together.

5. Informal Conversations are the best.

Our kids found themselves in the best conversations along the way. There was no way to plan meeting a stranger and finding something in common. However, again and again we found ourselves in informal conversations with folks we barely knew…and it went deeper from there. We found out that in God’s Kingdom there’s no such thing as strangers when it comes to believers. Rather, who we have in common greatly outweighs what we have in difference again and again.

I am so proud of our tribe. This was a monumental feat and we all came out of it changed people. We were happy to get off the road and to sleep in the same bed for a few nights, but I believe God did something special in each one of us. He knit us together in new ways – ways that He will use for the rest of our lives for His glory.