Day 1: The day we arrived we went straight to the Fistula hospital in Addis Ababa. This was one of the three things i was most looking forward to. Women who struggle with fistula are shunned from their villages because they are unable to have children. We toured the facility and spent time sitting with the women. The fistula hospital not only helps heal the women, it teaches them that they are worth the fight to keep alive. The nurses teach trades so the women learn how to sustain themselves after they are healed. It is a phenomenal program that literally revamps the entire life of a woman. These women have been shunned from their tribes, so for a group of people to willingly come in sit with the women and spend time with them was a highlight for them. Dispite their circumstances they possess so much joy. At the end of their treatment they are given a new outfit to signify their new, fistula-free life. Despite the team's pure exhaustion from traveling for 48 hours with little sleep, it was worth it to see the smiles on the faces of the women learning that they are a vital part of society. Day
The next day we spent the day in a village called Korah and a leper colony. Korah is home to 120,000 people. Their main source of finances and food is to dig through a trash dump and either sell or eat what they find. I have never been so humbled and so convicted of how I live. Even the smallest amount of gifts meant the world to them. The kids flock to us and so badly want physical touch, at one point I had one child on my back, one on my hip and was holding the hand of another. In any other situation I would have probably been disgusted by the flies, the smells and and the leprosy but here it is a different ball game. I willingly picked up kids that society wants nothing to do with. They are so affectionate and show their love for others in tanglible ways.
Even thoughh Korah seems hopeless, the Lord is working in mighty ways. It is home of three vital ministries: Great Hope, Mission Ethiopia and Project 61. Great Hope focuses on rebuilding Korah's community by starting feeding programs and utilizing natural resources. Mission Ethiopia focuses on empowering change and impacting those of Korah who are fatherless. They teach the residents of Korah to support themselves and their families by working at the trades they are gifted at. My favorite of these is Project 61. Project 61's primary purpose is to partner with local organizations in under-privileged areas to develop communities and their residents. Care is given to immediate areas of need such as orphan care and health issues. Through feeding programs and child sponsorships, urgent needs are met to allow for development of long-term solutions.
Later that day we spent time in a leper colony. I will admit, I was naive of leprosy. The only thing I knew about it, I took from scripture. Walking into the colony, nothing phased me but not in an 'I don't care' kind of way but in a 'every person needs to feel Christ's love' kind of way which is of course how we should live our everyday lives. You can't catch leprosy from physical contact. That simple fact alone gave my team and me freedom to love on people who have been shunned from society.
Part of Project 61's sponsorship program allows each sponsored kid to attended a boarding school about 4 hours away. P61's believes that education is the gateway to freedom and change. My team had the opportunity to spend the entire day at Shashamne Boarding School. With having been at Korah the day before, it meant so much mOre because we knew where these kids had come from. That afternoon we split the girls and boys up and spend the next hour talking to the girls about their worth in Christ. I had the opportunity to share the Gospel at the end. Which in itself is a personal victory because this time two years ago I would not had enough confidence to share my faith. The Institute grew me so much in this area because I have nothing to fear because I know that what I am saying is Truth. The things I am most passionate about in life is God's Word. I got emotional after I sat down because it finally hit me. I am in Ethiopia sharing the Gospel with the people that need to hear it. After I sat down, I got such a sense of urgency to share with the unreached people groups.