A Sweet Smile: Faces of Onesimus

by: Heather McGugan When I think about The Forsaken Children’s partner project, Onesimus, and the many beneficiaries they mentor, support and love, many faces come to mind. Sometimes I wake up early in the morning with a particular person on my heart and mind; other times I make a point to pray for a specific person during my day (such as those posted on the weekly lent updates by TFC). Every now and then I simply smile as I see a certain face in my mind and look forward to the day I can see them again.

Today, I think about two children in particular - a brother and sister, Nati and Beziyehu. These children come to mind for three reasons. First, their story continually pulls on my heart. Second, because of the testimony they are to the ministry of Onesimus. Third, because of how Onesimus works tirelessly to do what is best for each beneficiary, keeping in mind each independent need and situation.

Nati is one of the youngest beneficiaries at Onesimus and his sister, Beziyehu is only a few years older. Beziyehu is strong-willed and sweet (kind of like a salty and sweet combination) and Nati is a boy that can often be nicknamed “Naughty” at one minute and the next become a sensitive child yearning for love and attention.

Although they are not exactly street children, their mother works long hours, so Nati and Beziyehu are considered very high risk for becoming street children. Considering they have no parental figure around to care for them outside of school until the late evening, without Onesimus’ help, Nati and Beziyehu would likely turn into another number added to the statistic of thousands of children living on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Government estimates that 150,000 children live on the streets in Ethiopia, around 60,000 in Addis Ababa, many arriving from rural areas looking for work. NGOs estimate that the problem is far worse, with nearly 600,000 street children and 100,000 of these in Addis Ababa.



However, thankfully that is not Nati and Beziyehu’s story because of the work of Onesimus who mentor, support and love them. Instead, I testify that both Nati and Beziyehu are bundles of personality surrounded by the wonderful support network of Onesimus.
During my December visit to Onesimus, I was moved to learn that although the center “closes” to the beneficiaries around 6:00 p.m. daily, Nati, Beziyehu and one other beneficiary are allowed to stay later. They remain at the center with a few staff until their parents get off work and the staff knows the children can go home rather than become victims of the streets.

Because of this, Nati and Beziyehu have the opportunity to experience the joy and light-hearted nature of childhood in the safety of the Onesimus compound.

The Forsaken Children financially supports the ministry team of Onesimus providing hope for Nati, Beziyehu, and hundreds of children like them! Thank you for your continued prayer and financial support.

"Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,

for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Matthew 19:14