On Wednesday, we held the grain distribution for the Ziway schools. Again, it was sacred, humbling. One woman was literally trembling as we filled her bag with food. Tears welled in her eyes, and she could barely speak. I feel like I should reiterate that what we gave them was dried corn, wheat, and dried lentils. This is not feasting food; it’s surviving food. And yet, they were so grateful.
As we passed food to one older man, he began talking very excitedly to Temesgen. It turns out that he is the father of sweet, sweet Minyahel, the boy that Cacey Klein and I met at the school fence two years ago. The boy that we begged and pleaded to be allowed to come to school.
The boy who was thriving and then disappeared. The boy that we found had moved to Ziway because his mother had had an emotional breakdown. The boy who we tracked down and enrolled in school once again. The boy who is now thriving once again at the Ziway Preschool, but whose family is suffering from extreme poverty. I was blessed to know that Minyahel’s dad knew who we were and knew how much we love him. He was eager to shake our hands and thank us. Minyahel, and his little sister Tsegeteda, are still on the razor’s edge of falling into destitution. Their enrollment in school is the one thing keeping them above water right now. It’s both gratifying and worrying to see the role that Lifesong plays here. The work that God has allowed us to do here is so desperately needed. I wish it weren’t so. I’m hoping that one day we work ourselves out of a job.
On Friday morning, Temesgen took Casey and me to Adami Tulu by bajaj. For my friends from home, traveling that way is a little like flying down Highway 5 in a golf cart. Quite nearly terrifying.
We needed to take some pictures of a few kids, and we also had a little investigation work to do. Two years ago, our “Blue Crew” Team traveled to Adami Tulu to paint and host a VBS for the kids in town. One of those precious kids was Debora. We quickly fell in love with her. Her beautiful smile in spite of her intense poverty was inspiring. We were excited to learn that she was a student at the Adami Tulu school, and we looked for her on all subsequent visits. Several months ago, we got the sad news that Debora had dropped out of school. We didn’t know the reasons, and some of our friends at home commissioned us to track down Debora and find out what had happened.
We had a hard time finding a teacher who remembered Deborah. Several of them, including the vice director, were not at Adami Tulu when she was a student. Finally we found a teacher who remembered her and knew where her grandmother lived. So we hopped in the bajaj and went to her grandmother’s house. Here’s what we found out:
Debora is actually a twin. After she was born, her father died, and each of their grandmothers took a twin home with them. Debora lived in Adami Tulu with her maternal grandmother for quite a while and went to school. At one point I think she dropped out of school to care for her sick grandmother, but then her grandmother says that her mother returned and took Debora away while her grandmother was out.
Debora now lives with her mother in another town. Her mother recently had another baby and needs Debora to watch the baby while she is working. Unfortunately, this is a story that plays over and over all over Ethiopia. The daily needs are so pressing that parents can’t see the value of sacrificing in the short term so that their children have the benefits of education in the long term. It’s heart-breaking that Debora could be sentenced to a life of poverty because she was denied an education. At the same time, I can see her mother’s dilemma. She has to work to provide for herself and her children, and she can’t work and care for her baby at the same time. I wish there was an easy solution to this widespread problem.
Debora’s grandmother said that she knew there were people at Lifesong who loved Debora. This was some consolation. I feel that we have been successful at communicating our love for these kids to their families, even when that love fails to make the changes we want to make. We urged the grandmother to bring Debora back to Adami Tulu, and we promised her that she would have a place at the school if she returns. Please pray for Debora!
Once again, we were reminded that Lifesong and our partners are vitally needed in Ethiopia. I am so thankful that God has placed us here at this time, that we could show His love for Minyahel and for Debora by pursuing them, even when they disappear. It’s a blessing every time I get to act out in a small way the love He has demonstrated for me.
Our weekend was also full of blessings, which I’ll share later. Thank you for your prayers.