The kitchen bustles on "feast day" at our care-points with pots of spicy stew boiling, vegetables being cut into bite-sized pieces, and delicious lamb being cooked over an open fire. The older kids are happy to help out in the kitchen, by carrying trays of food to the "cafeteria" which is now set up with benches and tables (instead of eating on the floor like in years past).
We stop at a road-side fruit and vegetable stand in Addis before driving the 2 hours into the countryside, so that we can bring fresh fruits (bananas and oranges) which are not available in the rural markets near Trees of Glory care-point.
Simret (the care-point director) proudly ushers me into a back room to show me the 1/2 cow they have purchased for the meal.
A first for the kids (since beef is so expensive) but on this occasion, because we have insisted on feeding the kids and staff with abundance, they have splurged on a cow!! (This special feast is completely funded by our volunteer team and we splurge so that there are even a few lambs left for upcoming meals!)
Simret is all smiles as the kids line up outside their classrooms to wash their hands before lunch.
I watch her with appreciation as she touches each child on the head, or shoulder, a hug here and a caress there, giving each child attention and love. She is almost clapping with excitement as the kids filter eagerly into the lunch room, their noses already detecting the delicious meal that awaits.
Such a big meal today - with fruits and vegetables, injera and all the wot (meat stew with large chunks of meat) they can eat. Child after child comes back for seconds and even thirds! And even if they don't ask for seconds, the kitchen staff walks through the tables with bowls and ladels to give each child more.
We jump in and help where we can - serving food, cutting oranges, cleaning up spills, pouring drinks.
For me, having known and worked with the kids and staff at Trees of Glory for 3 1/2 years, I can see the difference in the kids. Healthy and smiling, waiting patiently for their meal because they know there will be more the next day.
Clear skin, sparkling eyes, and round cheeks. No longer distended bellies and haunted eyes in gaunt faces. Our kids at Trees of Glory have come to know hope and love in abundance - and what a difference it has made!!
There are still a few children at Trees of Glory care-point who are waiting to be matched with a sponsor family (we enrolled 50 new children in November!). $34 per month provides nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship for one child. If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact me at email@example.com.