Semira: The Gift of Empowerment

 

I am a 33-year old single mother living in Ethiopia, and my family is a living testament to the faithfulness of our awesome God, who has walked with us through our darkest days. Our little family has seen many stormy times, and I can’t say that I’ve always understood the Lord’s plan. All I know for certain is that He’s never abandoned us, and His grace has always been enough.

 

 

๐—” ๐—•๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ธ ๐—•๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด

From the beginning, my life never seemed to go as planned. I was born and raised in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. Following cultural customs, I married at the young age of 17 and moved over 300 miles away from my family to a new town, where I gave birth to my first child. When my son was 6 years old, my husband passed away without warning. The pain of losing him was very difficult, but I pressed on.

 

 

Alone with my son, I moved back to Addis Ababa to restart my life. For two years, I worked hard and cared for my son. Every day was difficult, and I feared for our future. During this time, I met a nice man and remarried. A year later, I gave birth to my second child, a daughter. My husband worked hard, yet our growing family’s financial struggles began to strain our marriage.

 

I was desperate to help solve my familyโ€™s financial problems, so I made the difficult decision to leave my two children and travel to the city of Dubai. I worked hard as a housemaid in order to give my kids an education and future opportunities. After five years, I returned to my family with money saved and a renewed hope for our future. Our lives were good for a short time. A year after I returned from Dubai, I gave birth to our third child. My husband and I planned to use our savings to start a business so our growing family could become more financially stable.

 

๐—” ๐—ง๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ถ๐—ฐ ๐—ง๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ป

But one day changed everything. Our house was robbed, and the money I had worked so hard for during my five years in Dubai was stolen. My hopes and plans for a better future evaporated instantly, and the painful sacrifice of being separated from my seemed to have been all for nothing. Adding to the devastation, my husband blamed me for the robbery. Our conflict spiraled, and soon my husband divorced me. I was once again left alone as a single mother, now with three children. Without money, I was unable to pay my family’s rent, and we were soon evicted. While we were homeless, I used the small amount of money I had to send my children to school. We slept on the street at night, hungry, scared and never knowing what the next day would bring.

 

 

๐—” ๐—Ÿ๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ต๐˜ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ธ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜€

But I soon learned that God had plans for my family! After living on a crowded street in the slums with my family for a number of weeks, I met LSM staff members Paulos and Hilina. They had been praying that God would direct them to vulnerable families like mine, and they could see my familyโ€™s despair, as well as signs of the trauma we had endured. They showed us Godโ€™s grace by taking us off the streets that same day and inviting us to stay at the Family Renewal office. I was humbled to receive help from strangers, but I was also grateful that my children could feel safe at last. Over the next 8 days, LSM’s Family Renewal staff helped me find a new home. I knew God was giving my family a second chance.

 

LSM’s Family Renewal program has provided us with counseling, encouragement, and support in our time of desperate need. Besides my family, LSM’s Ethiopia staff is also reaching 40 other single mothers just like me who were on the brink of giving up hope. We thank God every day for LSM, and for this program, which is helping us restore both our dignity and our faith!

 

๐—™๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—บ ๐—ฆ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐——๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ป๐—ถ๐˜๐˜†

My three children are continuing their education. They attend LSMโ€™s after-school tutoring program three days a week with a meal before lessons. Each Saturday, my children are given trauma recovery training, taught life skills, and provided with individual counseling sessions. Along with these tools, my children enjoy daily meals, Bible studies, and activities that empower them to build safe, healthy relationships with other children. When my children first came to LSM, they were often sick and had low self worth and poor hygiene. Now they are happy, healthy, confident young leaders who are performing well in school and who are hopeful about their future for the first time!

 

 

The Family Renewal program also provides my family with food support and medical care. I attend life skills and pre-business training, which is equipping me to start my own business! I never wanted to depend on charity, but LSM’s program does not feel like charity. Instead, Family Renewal is helping me build long-term independence. I feel like am regaining confidence every day. Above all, LSM is teaching my family that God is in control and that He knows everything our family has been through.ย  Despite hardships, we are learning God has a purpose in our lives and that He loves us dearly. After years of desperation, my familyโ€™s emotional and physical wellness is being restored. Hope is replacing despair. Dignity is replacing shame. God is showing us our worth in Him and planting seeds of hope in our hearts!

 

๐—›๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒโ€™๐˜€ ๐—›๐—ผ๐˜„ ๐—ฌ๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐—–๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—š๐—ฒ๐˜ ๐—œ๐—ป๐˜ƒ๐—ผ๐—น๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ:

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