For years I have been making the statement, “Children are the promise of hope for every generation.” Just today I have been reconsidering that. As I thought about my own childhood memories and the importance of my family in those, I began to realize that at the core it is the family that is the promise of hope for a generation. It should be the family that rallies around a child, defending, teaching, and loving her so she will be able to do the same for her future family. In this way the healthy family is cyclical, producing children that grow into their own healthy families and so on.
As I thought about my childhood what truly struck me was that I was only as much of a promise of hope as my family was a positive, supportive, and loving influence in my life.
Now I am stuck wondering what this means for the street children of Ethiopia. I suppose I know what it means if nothing changes for these children and the family unit is not restored in Ethiopia. It means a future similar if not worse than the present condition of the country. In the same way as healthy families, broken families are also cyclical for generation after generation.
I believe for Ethiopia’s sake and regardless of reasons to do otherwise, we must start to believe in the Ethiopian family again. We have to consider alternatives to the traditional family unit many of us have known in the West, but nonetheless the family, God’s original intent as the foundation of a society, must be the focus. Rather than pontificate about how the family unit can revive and become the promise of hope for Ethiopia, I will share a few stories of how this is happening one child at a time at The Forsaken Children’s partner project, the Onesimus Children’s Development Association.
|Yohannes (left) with friend, Nebiyu|
After Yohannes lived a lie for over a year, telling everyone at Onesimus that his family was basically no more, the truth came out. Yohannes’s family was alive and well, living hundreds of miles from Yohannes’s chosen home on the streets of Addis Ababa. As time passed and countless hours of counsel, encouragement, and love were given to this 13-year-old boy, Yohannes’s heart began to change and he accepted Jesus as his Savior. Today, Yohannes is reunited with his mother and father and lives in their home where he was missing for over 4 years.
|Metu (center) with her Halfway Home sisters and friend, Desse|
After her mother died, Metu’s grandmother left her to fend for herself on the streets of Addis Ababa at the age of 6. She lived there for close to 6 years with no one to protect or care for her. Metu learned that she could not trust anyone, much less the adults in her life. This all started to change when she entered the gates of Onesimus’s Drop-In Center. Day after day she challenged the staff who constantly responded with incredible grace and unbroken commitment. The day came when she entered Onesimus’s Halfway Home. Now, at 13, Metu loves and trusts her House Mother, who cares for her and three other girls in a family modeled Halfway Home. She has also grown to know God and to embrace him as her Father.
Ephrem After being taken from his family in rural Ethiopia, Ephrem was forced to work in a sweatshop to make another man rich. Eventually Ephrem ran away from his grueling life only to be stuck on the streets of Addis Ababa. Making the most of his newfound freedom, Ephrem adjusted to a life of sleeping on the streets, scavenging for food, and begging to make a buck. His gang of fellow street children led him to Onesimus’s Drop-In Center one day and his life began to change. Today Ephrem lives with his foster family who loves him as their own.
|Ephrem at home|
Yohannes, Metu, and Ephrem’s families are a promise of hope for Ethiopia!