About "Kind Hearts" in Ethiopia






"Kind Hearts" is the name of a care-point in Ethiopia that presently serves nearly 150 orphaned and destitute children.  Located on the southern edge of the capital city of Addis Ababa, Kind Hearts has 10 acres of land that can be developed to help them become more self-sufficient.

I travelled to Ethiopia with a team from Children's Hopechest (http://www.hopechest.org/) in December of 2009.  When we arrived at Kind Hearts, we immediately noticed that the kids were weak with hunger.  The kids were sweet and shy, and they were noticably lethargic and lacking energy.  We asked the director when the kids had eaten, only to find out the care-point only had enough funds to provide food for the kids one time each week.  He explained, "We are only able to feed the kids on Wednesdays."  The team exchanged concerned glances as it dawned on us that "Today was Monday, and the kids were starving!"

Several from our team sprang into action and went to the local market to purchase rice, carrots, onions, flavorful spices, oil, oranges and bananas.  The cook at the care-point immediately began boiling water over an open fire in a large black kettle in expectation of the meal that was about to come.

The children that attend Kind Hearts, are identified by the local government (called a Kebele) as among the neediest in the area.  Some of the children are single orphans, meaning they have lost one parent.  Others are double orphans and have lost both parents, and are living with a neighbor or relative that is not able to provide for them. 

The care-point provides a safe place for the kids during the day, and has two teachers on staff to provide an education from pre-school through grade 2.  The teachers, Aster and Alemnesh, are dedicated to the children, not only serving as educators, but also as care-givers.  We could see the love and concern in their faces and in their soothing touches and reassurances to the kids.

We spent the day playing games with the kids, and when the food was ready, we looked on in amazement as the kids lined up in an orderly manner (no pushing or shoving) and joyfully shared with each other, and kept trying to share their food with us.  Energized by the hearty meal and from the sugar in the candy and suckers we were sharing with them, their sweet laughter soon filled the school-yard. 


They devised games of their own and they grabbed our hands to pull us into their circles.  The playground area had a rickety swing-set with two swings, and a broken teeter-totter and the kids patiently took turns.


The grounds at Kind Hearts cover 10 acres that can be developed for micro-enterprise to help sustain Kind Hearts and even provide jobs to local women and some of the widowed mothers of the kids.  A fresh-water well is critical for Kind Hearts (since a nearby river is polluted with toxic chemicals and therefore cannot be used to irrigate the ground for gardening) and will provide a foundation to support a working kitchen (instead of an open firepit), bathrooms and showers (to provide a place to bathe and wash clothes) and even a chicken farm (to provide fresh eggs and meat for the kids, and to provide income for local women).  A fund-raising campaign is currently underway for a fresh-water well, and we are close to reaching our goal.


Presently - all 150 kids attending Kind Hearts are sponsored and their lives have been transformed in just a few months.  Each individual child is matched with a sponsor family here in the U.S. that commits to a gift of $34 per month to ensure their sponsor child has nutritious meals, education, clothing, medical care and Christian discipleship. 

The team from Hopechest visits Kind Hearts each week to counsel and spend time with the kids, and to teach them Bible stories and demonstrate God's love for them.  Through letters, the kids are getting to know their sponsor families.  Adey works for Hopechest and translates the sponsor letters, and she explained that the kids get so excited when a letter arrives for them, especially if there are pictures.  Letters filled with words like "you are beautiful", "you are special", "I love you," and "I love your smile" give them hope for the future.

More children will be enrolling at Kind Hearts soon, and teachers will be added to serve more grade levels.  If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please contact me at kjwistrom@yahoo.com and I will contact you as soon as we have more children needing a sponsor.  I personally travel to Ethiopia each year, to work with the kids and staff at Kind Hearts.  If you are interested in joining me on one of these trips, please contact me for details and dates.

For ongoing updates and information about Kind Hearts, please click on the "Home" tab at the top of this page.


Pictured above:  The Children's Hopechest team in Ethiopia.  Pictured from left to right:  Fikre, Adey, Zelalem, Erusalem, Peter.