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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

There was not a sense of desperation ...

It's been 2 1/2 years since the first time I visited Kind Hearts and met the 68 kids attending the CarePoint.  It was quite a different experience then, compared to now. 

My first impression as I stepped to the front of the tiny classroom was that the kids were tired and uninterested.  They seemed wilted over their desks and their hollow eyes stared back with little emotion. 

The emotion showed up a little later when we spoke to the staff and asked, "Are the kids hungry?"  We had not learned the entire story yet ... that the CarePoint was on the verge of closing due to a lack of funding and it was functioning more like a daycare that could supervise the kids while their caregivers labored for pennies a day. 

The CarePoint was able to provide a cup of rice for all the kids on Wednesdays.  We were there on a Monday.  The kids were too malnourished to learn - they could not concentrate. 

That's when we got emotional - and the kids did too (when food arrived!).  We immediately sent part of the team to the market for rice, bread, spices, fruits and vegetables - in bulk supply.  And we left enough funds to feed the kids for 30 days - hoping and praying that I would be able to find sponsors for all the kids within that timeframe so we could start a feeding program.

The kids were sponsored in 22 days!!!  And today 150 healthy kids are enrolled at Kind Hearts, advancing through the grade levels - loving to learn!

We have had several volunteer teams visit Kind Hearts this summer.  The kids LOVE to have visitors and the visiting team members love seeing a fully funded and supported CarePoint and how it transforms lives!!!

Lyra Lee visited Kind Hearts with a Children's HopeChest vision team in May.  Her team was in Ethiopia to begin working with a new CarePoint and they visited Kind Hearts to experience an established CarePoint.

From Lyra: 
Our team visited Kind Hearts after spending a couple of days meeting with sites that are looking for a partner. We found ourselves talking about how it is so hard to compare the levels of need. They are all in such need. But, there were differing levels of desperation at each site we visited.

When we pulled up to Kind Hearts, the kids were all assembled in the front of the school near the flag pole. They held a banner that said, “Welcome Dear Guests”, and began singing to us. “This is how we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth. This is how we brush our teeth, early in the morning.......This is how we wash our hands, wash our hands, wash our hands.....”

Our team immediately began noticing the difference between Kind Hearts and the sites we had visited without partners. Wow! It was pretty amazing. There was not a sense of desperation in the children. They were content.

After the singing, we played with the kids, and Claudette and I painted nails for the girls. They lined up and waited patiently and were so excited to see color on their nails and then picked out a sticker. Most of them picked the princess stickers and placed them proudly on their hands.

After playing with the kids, we went for a tour of the site and walked around the perimeter of the property. Fikre showed us the well and explained to us what a difference this clean water is going to make for the community surrounding Kind Hearts. So amazing to see and hear of this!

As we walked around the perimeter of the property, we saw the polluted stream that flows through and were told that the water is not even suitable for the animals. This is where we discovered a few animal bones and skulls. What a staggering contradiction we saw between death by the stream and life restored just up the hill at Kind Hearts School. A beautiful picture of the Gospel, working to make all things new and right.

As we visited the non-partnered sites prior to Kind Hearts, I noticed that the younger children had a glazed-over look in their eyes. They were non-communicative and carried a blank stare, rarely participating in the fun going on around them as the team played with the kids. I came to the conclusion that this was due to malnutrition. I did not see this in the children at Kind Hearts. Even the younger kids played enthusiastically and the sound of laughter was just amazing.

It was such a neat thing to watch the kids gather under the big, beautiful tree on the property and eat their lunch. It soothed my heart and gave our whole team inspiration for what we hope and pray to do for another community in Addis.
Thank you for showing us what is possible. What an amazing difference we can make in a community when we work as a team and ask the Creator and Sustainer of all things to use us for His glory!
He truly is restoring His creation, and we saw this so beautifully at Kind Hearts.

I so appreciated hearing from Lyra and her husband Jared when they returned from Ethiopia and Kind Hearts.  As you can see by the photos, Lyra is a photographer, and she has a photo site with photos from Ethiopia that she is selling to raise funds for the CarePoint they are working with.  Click here to see her beautiful photography and support their work in Ethiopia!

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