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
Some things that I have learned - like new ways to think and act - I pray I never lose or forget when I leave this country.
The American culture has its strengths, in perspective, but one of its weaknesses is that it is natural for us to negate a person because of his or her status or position...
Ababech is the cook here at the Drop-In Center.
She's the one who works in the back room preparing tea for the staff and bringing the boys from the streets their meals for the day.
While she is involved in the ministry as the cook, would we consider her one of the “unsung heroes” of Ethiopia? Would we value her as one of those battling on behalf of the vulnerable street children?
When I originally arrived and began training the staff and working in the organization, I did not give her position a second thought.
However, through her gentle Spirit and loving heart, I have grown to see the immense strength she contains and the impact she has on the boys in this mission.
Our team’s first couple of weeks here were scheduled directly to train the staff in basic counseling skills. It was a two week training program, each day tackling a separate topic of discussion. The seminars were scheduled for either direct practice employees (social workers, half-way-house parents, counselors, etc...) or the entire staff (accountant, secretary, directors, etc...). Ababech never missed a session, qualifying her as a direct practice employee. This was a unique concept for me to grasp until hearing her comment following one of our training sessions (in summary):
Thank you so much for what you have chosen to do here. Before I knew nothing. I had not received any kind of training but you have come to advise us how to counsel these children. Now I have learned all that you have taught over the past few weeks. Thank you for sharing with us.
The fact that she is the cook is true. She has not received her degree in a helping profession and she is not trained to have the techniques of an “unsung hero”, but she is helping, and I am certain she is a hero to these street children who come and see her face, day in and day out, at the Drop-In Center.
Following the training session when Ababech thanked us, I began to see, not from my American inclination, but through the eyes of those who chose to include her in the training with the social workers and counselors. It became apparent that her direct, daily interaction with these children did indeed make her an unsung hero...
How the children regard her as an elder when they live each day on the streets without a parent.
How she kissed these children's cheeks and loved them sweetly EVERY DAY.
She warms my heart when I see her face, pulling me close to greet her. She holds me tight to her and does not let me doubt for a second how much she appreciates the work that I do, not only for her team but for the children she sees me working with each day.
This woman is vital to the work of this ministry, and her position as a cook is nothing but a chosen path to pour love on these children.