Ethiopia’s orphan crisis is notorious with nearly 13% of its children having lost one or both parents (according to this UNICEF report), 800,000 of whom were orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Those are staggering statistics with huge, horrible consequences for a generation of orphans.
Ester* and Tabi* were no exception, except that instead of a huge statistic, they’re kids that I know personally. (Many of you know what I mean by saying that statistics look a lot different when there’s individual faces attached to them.)
If you keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter you’ll see construction pictures coming through every once in a while. So what’s going on in Haiti? Several things actually. Here’s a quick look at some of the big projects we’re currently working on.
Remember reading about a group of advocates who wanted to help families understand life in Ethiopia? (Check here if you need a refresher.) Friday night, their vision culminated in an interactive open house where hundreds of people showed up to learn about Ethiopia, children and their mothers in prostitution and what they can do about about it with LSM. Here’s some of the highlights:
So you see the need, right? You hear about 140,000 exploited women in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and you see their kids who’re growing up in the middle of that, knowing where they’re heading, and it’s frightening. You think about kids who are vulnerable to the same fates because they are that desperately poor. And you think… what am I going to do about it? How can I help a problem that big? Where do I even start?
We all can do something.
It’s been all over the news lately. The newly elected Pope Francis took his name from St. Francis of Assisi, and has come in the papacy declaring: “We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness.” It’s a major call to action to care for the ‘least of these’ and he’s living it out by example as he calls others to join him.
St. Francis of Assisi (the new Pope’s namesake) gave up his wealth and status in 1204, when on a pilgrimage to Rome, he joined the poor begging at St. Peter’s Basilica. That experience moved him to live in chosen poverty for the rest of his life. He transformed many lives through that example of giving. He made a stand in the best way possible: he lived it. Pope Francis is doing the same thing… stepping down from the pompous lifestyle could have, and declaring that people should instead be about caring for others.
It’s called a lot of things: modern-day slavery, contemporary slavery, human trafficking, child slaves… and sometimes it’s just disguised as something that sounds a lot nicer – escorts, domestic servants… But however you put it, go beneath the words and you open yourself up to a world of incredible pain and injustice.
There’s somewhere around 27 million slaves in the world today. They’re people trafficked for sex, drugs and bound in generational debt bondage. (Source) They’re abused, degraded and humiliated – many of them living and dying in this world. It’s a tragedy that no human should ever have to face.
Amhet’s mother left every night…
She was supposed to be asleep, but sometimes she woke up and found her mother gone. Scared, Amhet would shut her eyes tight as she waited for dawn when her mother would quietly come back. Though they never talked of it, her mother would look at her with soulful eyes and she knew what was coming. Soon, she’d join her mother in the night.
Imagine this: you and your spouse have been married for a few years. You can’t have kids, but you have a real heart to raise children to follow Jesus. You see so many children around you that don’t have a mom and dad and who are often in some pretty desperate situations. And then you hear from your pastor that there’s an organization that wants to help you care for 12 orphaned or exploited girls or boys. They’ll provide funding and support for you, but they’re asking for a family led by God to stand up and parent these kids as their own.
Samantha was seven when her world crumbled around her. Her mom died, and her paralyzed father just couldn’t take care of his family. It was that simple. No food, no more school, no mom. At seven years old, Sam didn’t really understand that her dad couldn’t care for her. All she knew is that she was leaving.
Samantha and her siblings were shipped off to their aunt’s house – complete with a leaky steel roof and crumbling cement walls – which was already filled to brimming with her own eight children. Her aunt had a small sewing business, but as the sole provider in her own family, that was hardly enough. I’d imagine the wear of that responsibility just continued to drown her aunt, but later, LSM staff asked the aunt if we provided money, if she’d want to keep Samantha. She said no.
Bathelmy’s father died first, and this his mother followed, leaving 8 children as orphans. His aunt tried valiantly to care for all of the kids, but her husband was a poor farmer, and they struggled to provide for all the new mouths to feed. Something would have to change.
Diemchile was one of nine children. His father lived with them when he found work, but was often gone, looking for jobs to provide. His mother was left alone, caring for her children and a nephew she had taken in many years before. From little on up, Diemchile knew what crippling poverty was, and his thin frame showed the effects that it was having. His family needed a miracle.