I am in Ethiopia this week on a blogging trip for Food for the Hungry, an organization that provides aid for children in “food insecure” areas. Each day, we’ve been visiting the homes of children who are sponsored, to hear their stories and better understand how being sponsored benefits them. Today I wanted to tell the story of a boy named Gadissa. He is 10 years old, and lost both of his parents at the age of 5. He now lives with his aunt, who is living with HIV.
Gadissa’s aunt was so excited for us to visit. She welcomed us into her humble home, where she had popcorn waiting for us. She then set about making fresh coffee, starting by roasting the beans over a small fire in the middle of the room. She then used a mortar and pestle to grind the beans, and made each of us a cup of amazing coffee. Her hospitality was incredible to experience. It was apparent that she is incredibly grateful to Food for the Hungry. Her FH social worker was there, and they had an amazing rapport. The FH social workers work closely with each family to address their individual needs. For this particular family, they offer assistance with food and shelter, along with school fees and academic help.
Gadissa was shy, but he was also very proud when his aunt informed us of his academic achievements this year. He was 2nd in his class this year, and Food for the Hungry had just had a ceremony celebrating this honor. FH is great about incentivizing kids to do well in school, and a public ceremony apparently works . . . Gaddis told us that his motivation to get good grades was that he’d not been included in the ceremony last year.
His aunt was beaming when we talked of his grades. She pulled out his report card and certificate, and was near tears as she talked of her hope for his future. Although she and I live a world away in very different circumstances, I was struck by our similarities. She wants the best for her child, even though she is not his biological mother. I told her through tears how commendable I thought it was that she was clearly raising him with love.
Gaddisa’s fate is uncertain because his aunt has a poor prognosis. HIV is diagnosed much later in Ethiopia, and the drugs are difficult to obtain. Though Gaddis currently lives with his caretaker, he has been placed in the Child Headed Household program to wrap around him should he be orphaned a second time.
Gaddisa would like to be a doctor someday, and with the help he receives from Food for the Hungry, he should be able to continue his schooling.
My family has been sponsoring children for the past ten years, but I don’t think I ever fully grasped the impact until meeting the children who benefit. If this story is touching you, please consider signing up to sponsor a child.
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