Liz, Misty, and Anna are serving with our amazing Ethiopian team in Addis Ababa this summer. A key part of their work will be to provide training on basic counseling techniques to the men and women who work directly with the street children. The team will be blogging about their experiences, allowing us to get a taste of the amazing ministry God is using to rescue so many children from the streets.
By Anna Gray
It is no longer articles that I have read on street children, nor is it a population that TFC's Ethiopian team struggles to work with, but these children’s lives are beginning to become a reality to me.
In our first couple days of visiting the Drop-In Center, we were the “FERENGIES!!!” (foreigners) It was an exciting time as we were meeting these silly boys, and in the initial weeks, it was a time of utter and complete chaos as we attempted to reign in 20 young teenage boys. But as each day goes by, visiting the Drop-In Center each morning, leading English lessons, joining the boys in soccer games, creating with Legos…, I am getting to see each boy’s personality.
It is a transition in my heart from statistics into a unique set of boys that have chosen to share their lives with us...
Zeden loves to joke with visitors and Haptu is very shy but loves to participate in the programs, and Challa is a natural leader among the boys and tries each day to control his behavior before the younger guys in the group, and I have never seen a boy so hyped up as Yelgacho who is constantly smiling from ear to ear when we sing songs and dance. In getting to know these boys at the Drop- In Center, I am beginning to know their stories, which is giving a deeper, broader, and more extensive appreciation for the team of men and women who work with them each day.
Let me tell you about Abdisa. His mother died a couple years back and his father has remarried. There had been a financial burden within the family so Abdisa’s father made the decision to utilize his son's help by removing him from school and beginning him as a shoe shiner on the streets. Abdisa worked at this career until his father began to take the money Abdisa earned but he was not using it to feed the family. Abdisa soon took all the money in the house and abandoned his family to live on the streets. Abdisa had only been living on the streets for nearly three months when the Ethiopian team took him under their care in the Drop-In Center.
Abel, on the other hand, has found his home on the streets for 4 years. And, he's only 12 years old. Years back, his father was sick and was receiving treatment injections to aid him; meanwhile, his mother had found a new lover. It was discovered after the matter that the new lover was inserting poison in the treatment to end Abel’s father’s life. To escape this home after his father’s death, Abel ran away. Abel has expressed continual misbehavior throughout his involvement at the Drop-In Center, no doubt related to this family struggle. The multiple issues that the staff faces with this single child alone indicates the degree of their efforts on behalf of these children.
And Temazgay is one in the program who has not created an issue the entire 4 weeks I have worked with these children. His family experienced turmoil when his brother died, causing neither his mother nor his father to overcome their grief to provide the basic needs of the child they had left. Desperate to receive education, Temazgay ran. His ambition will melt your heart one second and the battle he faces will break your heart the next.
We were practicing praying and encouraged the boys to write letters to the Lord. Temazgay asked me what he should do because he could not write. I responded, “It doesn’t have to be in English, you can simply write in your own language between you and the Lord.” He states, "I cant. I don’t know how.” – I think, Nothing? Unable to read or write even the simplest statements? Taken back by this fact, I told him he can draw what is on his heart. This day the focus was thankfulness and I look over and see a vague image on Temazgay’s paper. Through translation, I ask and am told it is a book, because he is thankful for schooling. He is so behind at the age of 14 and the only education he is receiving is nearly an hour of schooling at the Drop-In Center in either English or Math and he is thankful for it.
These street boys are children battling against the environment and circumstances that surround them...
Whether it is a physical fight to defend themselves on the streets so that they do not return to the Drop-In Center with a new bump or bruise, or if it is a fight from the emotional distress that engulfs the memories of where they come from.
At this point, 4 weeks in, they are no longer just faces that greet us as we enter the Drop-In Center, but they are children with character and personality, strengths and weaknesses, and dreams and ambitions. Knowing their stories is a testament for how TFC's Ethiopian team works on behalf of these children to secure them a suitable environment that will allow them hope and a future.