By Ed Gillentine (pictured below), former TFC Board Member and continuous advocate for The Forsaken Children. I met Sossina, who I now call Sossie, when she was 8 years-old. She and her brother, Surafel, had been coming to The Forsaken Children’s (TFC) drop-in center for street child restoration since it opened in 2008. For a reason only God understands, the first moment I laid eyes on Sossie – amidst countless other precious children – she stole my heart.
Ever since our first meeting, Sossie has become part of what drives me to stand with TFC as it provides a sense of permanency and belonging to the street children of Ethiopia.
Sossie is a part of TFC’s strategy to keep children that are on the verge of going to the streets from making that decision (REBUILD). You see, as a child being raised by blind grandparents, Sossie’s risk for leaving home for the streets is great. Both of her grandparents struggle to earn enough money to provide for their family, which naturally means someone else must make up the deficit. Without TFC, Sossie would likely be working or begging on the streets rather than going to school and having an opportunity to be a kid.
A large part of what TFC does is rebuild or invest in children's (like Sossie) education and provide for their families' tangible needs. These two supports ensure Sossie gets to go to school and stay with the family God created her for.
I believe God desires for each of us to grow and develop within a family. Even in as difficult a situation as Sossie’s, the sense of belonging and continuity that comes from being able to stay with her family is of immeasurable worth. This is only possible because of TFC’s relentless pursuit of keeping this family intact.
The drop-in center provides a refuge for Sossie and hundreds of other children. Before and after school she can come and do her homework without distraction. She can get food, clothing, and vitamins when needed. She can play with other boys and girls without fear.
Best of all, at the drop-in center, Sossie is surrounded by Ethiopian men and women, who love her and love Jesus. This team has come to understand something very important – change in children like Sossie will not come overnight. Therefore, one of the most pivotal aspects of TFC's ministry to children like Sossie is to be consistent and to help her to feel a sense of permanency and belonging.
Having an oasis to come to day after day and year after year is invaluable for Sossie. And it’s one of the reasons I’m so excited that TFC is focusing on purchasing a permanent drop-in center in Addis Ababa. The constantly increasing rent, fear of needing to move at short notice, and the inability to design a rented facility to meet the needs of street children are just three of the obstacles that TFC has had to work around for the past 6 years.
Those obstacles paired with the awareness that a sense of belonging and permanence give hope to children like Sossie prompted the Permanently His Campaign.
Sossie is now 13. And not only has she won my heart but the hearts of my wife and children as well. I must confess that as she grows older, the joy of watching her grow and develop into a young lady is often clouded with fear and anxiety. I worry about her having enough to eat and proper clothes to wear. I worry about her shelter and her safety. I worry about how she is doing in school and if she will be prepared for university. And yet I know that God cares for the birds of the sky and the flowers of the field (Matthew 6:25-34), Sossie’s care is infinitely more important to Him than this and He is providing for her and helping to set the path for her future through TFC.
I am so grateful that God has allowed us to be a part of what God is doing through TFC in Ethiopia. And maybe, just maybe, my family’s small part will be used by God to bring Lasting Hope to a little girl in Ethiopia.