By Britainy Sholl, Vice Chairwoman of The Forsaken Children.
This story is based on a former street child's real life experiences. Take a moment and get a glimpse of what life is like on the streets from a child's perspective. Finally, be inspired by how God intervenes to change children's tragic stories into ones full of hope. God is on the move in Ethiopia to restore hope in the hearts of its forsaken children.
This is my story of hope. My name is Fekadu.
When I was 7 years old, my father abandoned our family, and soon thereafter my mother, who had been very sick, died.
With nowhere to go, my little sister and I began living on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I could not care for my sister, so she eventually went to live with a family friend who was only willing to take one of us.
I worked on the streets to make money so I could buy food. But the work was very difficult, and people often stole my money.
Most days my empty stomach ached, and I had to dig through many trash cans to find any crumb to eat.
I remember one time when I became very sick, and no one helped me. For 3 days I was sick, and people just walked on by as I lay in the street.
One night I had a dream someone reached out a hand to help me. I awoke, knowing that no one would help a dirty street kid like me. I tried hard to forget about my dream, convinced it didn't mean anything.
I often saw other boys and girls going to school or playing with a soccer ball and wished I could be like them.
But my life was about survival - making it from one moment to the next all on my own.
When I turned 10, I was very thin, lonely and sad. I cried often and was becoming weaker day-by-day.
Then one day, I saw it! It was the hand from the dream I had tried to forget. Only this time it wasn’t a dream. It was a man named Nega. He reached his hand out and said, “Come with me. I am going to help you.”
I could tell by his face that he was a good man, so I went with him. He took me to a place called the drop-in center. When we arrived, there were other nice people there. They had the same look in their eyes Nega had...
Why would these people help me? I am a complete stranger, and I have no money to pay them. I am dirty, weak and hopeless.
The reason didn't matter - someone had finally seen me and reached out a hand to help.
The first thing we did at the drop-in center was eat! I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a real meal. I ate until I couldn’t fit another bite into my mouth! Then they let me take a bath - with soap! Again, I couldn’t remember ever doing that. Maybe my mom had given me a bath when I was a baby. Then they told me the best news: I was going to get to go to school! I would get an education. I would play with other boys and girls.
Several weeks later I was working with one of the adults at the drop-in center on my studies when I asked the question that would change my life. This question had been on my mind since the day I arrived there, and now I had to ask. “Why did you help me?” The answer was simple...
“Because of Jesus.”
Who is this Jesus? I had heard the other kids at the drop-in center speak of Him, and I wanted to meet Him. I asked question after question about this Jesus. I wanted to thank Him for telling these kind people to help me when I did nothing to deserve it.
At the end of our conversation that day, I finally understood who Jesus is. The thought of someone giving His life for me so that I can know God was the best news I had ever heard! That is when I found Jesus and finally found hope.
I was a broken, poor, dirty, unloved street orphan. But Jesus loved me. He loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.
This song brings me joy. I see Jesus every day in the faces of my friends at the drop-in center. They are able, because of the love of Jesus, to see me as Christ sees me. I am worthy and loved beyond measure; a son of the Most High. Yes, Jesus loves me.
You see, that dream I had of that hand so many years ago wasn’t the hand of any ordinary man. I now know that it was the hand of Jesus Christ. He reached down and touched my life and filled it with hope.
This is my story of hope. My name is Fekadu. What’s yours?