Friday, December 28, 2012

...at Death's Door ...

.
It's been about two years since we first became aware of the condition of a little girl in Ethiopia (Webit) at our Trees of Glory CarePoint, who was born with a leg deformity and had recently been treated by the village shaman which caused a severe infection. She was rushed to the hospital at death's door, the infection was brought under control, surgery was performed and a large section of the bone was removed. (See original post HERE.)

Many families (especially her sponsor family, the Herwehes) have continued to pray for Webit over the last 2 years. 

Last year, when my volunteer team was at the CarePoint in November, Webit had just taken a turn for the worse and it seemed the infection (and significant pain) was setting in again.

Her older sister was carrying Webit to and from the CarePoint and to each of her classes. When I picked her up, she seemed as light as a feather and I could feel her bony frame as I carried her to the lunch room. Her leg was swollen and painful and hot to the touch, and it was clear she was losing weight and needed medical attention again.

 

Webit with her older sister, Belyu.

Since then, Webit has been seen by the bone specialist again who prescribed antibiotics for an infection and specific physical therapy to strengthen her leg.  Webit has been living at the CarePoint in Simret's care so that she has ample nutritous food and the physical therapy can be correctly and regularly administered.

When the kids greeted our team this year, Webit was the child in front of all the kids, who with only a slight limp, walked up to me with a handful of roses and kissed my cheek!



Her leg is still swollen and she will probably always walk with a limp due to her bone deformity and surgery. 



But she is healthy, with full cheeks and a beautiful smile - and she is alive today because of the swift intercession of people who love her and provide for her and pray for her!!  Webit will continue to need occasional doctor visits and perhaps at some point, her leg will require surgery again. 

Her care package this year included brand new New Balance tennis shoes for her and her sister because her sponsor family knows how important it is for the girls to have a good pair of shoes in this rugged terrain.

 
Hilena (with Children's HopeChest) and Paul Cooper from our volunteer team,
read Webit's letter to her and deliver her care-package from her sponsor family.
 


________________________________

Last year, we established a medical fund at Trees of Glory to provide for Webit's doctor visits and for other emergency medical situations (for 175 kids).  That fund has been depleted and needs to be replenished so that the CarePoint staff can get medical care for the kids whenever it is required. 

To make a secure, tax-deductible donation to the medical fund,
Please go to www.hopechest.org,
Click on GIVE
Use Reference Number ET2119000 and
Specify MEDICAL in the notes area

And THANK YOU for providing medical care to the kids at Trees of Glory CarePoint!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Still Waiting, Watching and Wishing ...

Back in July, we began raising funds to build new classrooms at Kind Hearts school in Ethiopia.  As of today, we are only $5,000 short of having the funds needed to build the new classrooms! 

AND - a family has generously offered to match donated funds up to $1250.  Please consider giving to this project so we can have it fully funded by the end of the year!  Your donation will be matched which will double your donation! 

Please click to this link to make a donation and see our progress  http://donate.hopechest.org/goto/karen

________________________________________

JULY 2012 - There's an uncomfortable truth that settles in when we are in Ethiopia working with the kids at our CarePoints. Kids that have come to know and rely on a full tummy every day, water that won't make them sick, teachers and care-givers that love them and guide them, and medical care when they need it. They laugh and play with energy and abandon because they have hope for their future.

The uncomfortable truth is revealed when you look around the edges of the CarePoint and see thin, dirty kids waiting and watching and wishing.









Occasionally a child braves the walk across the dusty ground while we are there and plaintively asks for food. We respond immediately all the while knowing that it is a temporary fix.




Without enrollment at Kind Hearts, these kids suffer chronic malnutrition and chronic illness. If they survive, most will barely eke out a living working as a daily laborer (hard manual labor for pennies a day) and the cycle of poverty will continue. Their days are filled with chores and many kids are already working for pennies by hauling water or carrying firewood for families who can afford to have a child do it for them.







Our four small classrooms at Kind Hearts are overflowing with the 195 kids currently enrolled in the program. But with the construction of a new school building with 4 more classrooms, we could serve 150 more kids!!

150 more kids that will no longer hover at the fringes, watching their friends, neighbors or siblings eat a full lunch, drink a tall glass of clean, pure water and then skip into the classrooms for their daily lessons that will set them on the path of self-sufficiency - for themselves and their future families!

There are hundreds more orphaned and destitute kids in the area that is served by Kind Hearts and we have families wanting to sponsor - we just don't have the space to serve, care for, feed, clothe and educate 150 more kids ... yet.

With your help we can expand the classrooms and more effectively serve the 195 kids enrolled now AND enroll up to 150 more children.  More kids who will be provided with nutritious meals every day, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship.

Temesgen is excited to have his little brother Habtamu enrolled with him at Kind Hearts.

Please consider and pray about funding this very important project at Kind Hearts. Click here to make a secure donation to the Kind Hearts school building. Your funds will go directly and only to this project http://donate.hopechest.org/goto/karen

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

He Found Hope and Love and Belonging Here ...

The kids were a little nervous, not sure what to make of us, as my team of volunteers first visited Trees of Glory care-point in 2010.  The care-point had only been established for a few months at that time, with 84 malnourished kids attending school for the first time.

Our team of volunteers arrived and got to work in the classrooms, interacting with the kids, teaching, spending time with them and letting each child know how much they were loved and valued.  Reading books with children piled in our laps, lavishing love and attention on them.  We played games that involved touching, we painted fingernails, we strung beads - our hands touching their hands, touching faces, pulling the kids into hugs that they quickly returned. 

One child held back a bit, and as we passed out sliced oranges to the kids I approached him and extended my hand in greeting. He stepped back and slightly turned away, glancing furtively at my face to see if I was truly focused on him

One of my first glimpses of Tariku (blue shirt) at Trees of Glory care-point in 2010.

I extended my hand further and after a moment's hesitation, he reached for my right hand with his left.  That's when I realized why he held back, stayed at a distance and kept his body turned away.  His right arm was missing below the shoulder.

I dropped his hand and with a smile repeated my greeting, this time extending my left hand.  He looked at my hand, looked at my face and then strongly gripped my left hand in a firm hand-shake and I pulled him into a hug. 

Each day, I made a point to search him out, call him by name, extend my left hand and give him a hug, and he began to look me in the eye and smile a confident smile!



Tariku lives at the care-point full time.  I later asked Simret (the director) about him and she explained that he was born with a withered right arm (it withers to nothing slightly below the shoulder) which was assumed to be a curse, therefore he was rejected by his family and other villagers. 

He was among the first children to be enrolled at the care-point - a child wanted by nobody had found a place with Simret at Trees of Glory.

He's a sweet boy who has grown in confidence over the years and I looked forward to seeing him this year.  He has become a quiet leader among the children, instinctively helping with the little ones and always quick to lend a hand (his only hand) to help with chores at the care-point.

One of our volunteers, Tammi Dorion, was looking forward to seeing him too.  Knowing his sponsor family, the Klevens, Tammi wanted to deliver his care-package and personally impress upon him how much his sponsor family loves and cares for him.



Tariku approached slowly when it was his turn.  And he soaked in all of the words of love and encouragement Tammi read to him from the Kleven's letter.  He looked at the photos and admired the gifts carefully chosen just for him.  I could tell he didn't want his turn to end.  As he gathered his things and Tammi helped him put them in a plastic bag, he rose and stepped away with a big smile on his face, and then he sharply spun around and stepped back to give Tammi a big hug!


I glanced at Simret to see tears on her cheeks.  She was soaking in those words too for this sweet boy.  A child who came to her wanted by no one, hearing words of love and encouragement just for him. 

He walked over to Simret and she wrapped him in a hug. "See how loved you are!!!" she told him.  (Simret loves each child in her care like they are her own.)


Later, when I was walking with Simret, she showed my Tariku's room.  "He is such a good boy," she told me.  "He is always helping the little kids and he loves school."  As she pushed open the door to his sparse room, she commented how immaculate he keeps his room. 



Gesturing to his perfectly made bed, she explained "He makes his bed each day with one hand and his teeth!"  Then she put her hands over her heart and her eyes teared up again.  "I know,"  I told her, "You love him ... and he has found hope and love and belonging here ...and we love him too."

________________________
Trees of Glory care-point enrolled 40 new children in November and a few of those kids are still waiting to be matched with a sponsor family.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com.  $34 per month provides nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship at Trees of Glory care-point in Ethiopia (a Children's HopeChest care-point).

Monday, December 24, 2012

In the town of Bethlehem ...

Micah 5:2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathath, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who is ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.


Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us).



Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

And so it began … in the town of Bethlehem …






Luke 2:8 ...

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you; he is Christ (Messiah, the Annointed One) the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.


Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel , praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”


From my family to you and yours - I pray you have a blessed Christmas where you ponder the miraculous birth of Jesus and wonder anew at the amazing gift given.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

HOPE TAKES ROOT

Sometimes you have to go back in order to see forward ... 

Because I have worked with the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory CarePoints for three years, I have the unique perspective of being able to compare then and now.

Three years ago, there were moments when I would hold a child on my lap, and feel their bones through their layers of clothes as they shivered in the warm sun, their bodies too gaunt to even stay warm. 

Teeth loose in their gums, open sores on arms, legs and scalps. 

Watery eyes, flies buzzing... too tired to bother waving them away. 

Slow movements - no energy to run and jump and play.  And eyes with no sparkle ... no hope.

The turn-around happens swiftly though ... with nutritious food, plentiful clean water, medical care, education and LOVE, consistent love.

HOPE inches in and takes root, and the kids are transformed.  Literally ... transformed.

I'd like to show you what HOPE looks like ... These are some of the HOPE-FILLED kids that attend Trees of Glory care-point in Ethiopia (our Children's HopeChest care-point) ...


Meseret's first profile photo (above).
Below, Meseret receiving her care-package from her sponsor family (Applequist Family)!



Amanuel's first profile photo (above).
Below, Amanuel receiving his care-package from his sponsor family (Anderson Family)!

 
 
Meseret's first profile photo (above).
Below, Meseret receiving her care-package and a personal visit from her sponsor family, the Irvins!
 


Fekadu's first profile photo (above).
Below, Fekadu receiving his care-package from his sponsor family (Jamison Family)!
 


Entenesh's first profile photo (above).
Below, Entenesh receiving her care-package from her sponsor family (Klein Family)!



Dessu's first profile photo (above).
Below, Dessu receiving her care-package from her sponsor family (Pina Family)!
 


Tariku's first profile photo (above).
Below, Tariku receiving his care-package from his sponsor family (Prignitz Family)!
 


Derebe's first profile photo (above).
Below, Derebe's receiving her care-package from her sponsor family (Grove Family)!
 


Belyu's first profile photo (above).
Below, Belyu receiving her care-package from her sponsor family (Herwehe Family)!
 


We still have new children at Trees of Glory and Kind Hearts who are waiting for a sponsor family. If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com. ($34 per month provides nutritious food, clean water, clothing, medical care, education and Christian discipleship for one child.) We have 96 new children and about 30 of the kids are still in need of a sponsor family!