Asarat – from No Hope & Identity to Hope and Success!

unnamed (1)Strong Hearts is changing lives from the inside out in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. God has provided the funding to develop a microenterprise program in our community. Through this program, the broken people are given an opportunity to start a new life and to see new hope.   They are taught a skills, taught to save money and learning how to develop their own business.

I would like you to meet Asarat. When Asarat came to us he had no place to live and was earning less than 2.00 USD per day cleaning the streets.   At Strong Hearts we were able to let him live at the school after school was over each day. We were able to  him in our Hair Styling School and for a year he learned a new trade, learned how to save.

unnamedRecently he graduated and with 2 friends they opened their own Beauty Salon business, which is doing very well. Now Asarat sees a future. His earning is not anymore 2.00USD Per day, He is Not only a future as a businessperson but a future as a child of God.   Over time as the business grows he plans to open more shops.   I asked Asarat what your donations meant to him since it was through your generosity that the program is able to continue. He said that before this he had no hope and no identity and no real direction. Now He has a plan for his life and knows God has a plan for his life too.

 

 

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Care Center Families Are Thriving

IMG_2626 eyuel & senait kiss yohannes and habtam laugh senayt1

We are in the middle of conducting update interviews for each family this week.  Checking in with each parent to see how things are at home, needs they may have and all they have accomplished.  We will also ask each caregiver to assess the children in their rooms and how they are doing on a daily basis.  Even our super shy children are opening up with their peers and even me!  It is such a privilege to watch them grow in their confidence and person God has created them to be.

As I look into each one of their eyes, and see them running around, I can’t help but be so very in awe that we get to be a part of this journey.  The power and dignity that is being instilled into these families’ hearts is just beyond words.  These kids are developing physically as they should!  They have room to run around and get those muscles moving versus being on their moms backs while they try to work.  The parents have the opportunity now to earn a better living to support their families.  It is still a VERY tough life for them here.  So please do not think that they have it easy now because they are with us.  Most of them still remain in a 4×6 foot house with mud walls and a tin roof.  They are still drinking water that gives them giardia because it is not clean.  But so much HAS improved.  We still have much education to do and more love and respect to give.  This journey to a better way of living and being able to be secure in the family that God has blessed them with…is more than words or pictures can explain.   Much of our work here, we can see transformations happening.  But there is so much that are little mustard seeds.  We hope that passing along the love of Jesus to them will make a difference someday and hopefully eternally when we are all together again after our life here on earth.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts—for giving us the ability to do what we are doing here!

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Meet with Kashaun from our Microfinace Program

unnamed (4)Keshaun Mossie, is a young man of 30 years. He was born and formed a family in the Gojam region of Ethiopia. He is married and is a father of three children.

Three years ago because of a severe broken leg injury, he was forced to come to Addis Ababa for treatment. Because of the heightened state of his injury he was compelled to be treated as in-patient at the Alert Hospital in Addis Ababa for seven months. Then he continued his treatment as out-patient for the next two years, and even now under treatment.

In all these years, since he does not have any means of income, he is living with his uncle at the kore area in Addis Ababa. Because of this he has not heard anything from his family, and has not helped them in anyways.

When some people he know told him about the training in Cloth designing  being giving by Mercy House training  center, he did not wait very long to come and register. He realized that the vision that was in his mind to be the owner of a profession, to gather and support his family scattered by poverty has finally arrived, and now he has started his training.

Prayer is appreciated as Kasahun persuade his training he may grow in his faith with the lord.

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Meet Hulagarish – Our Hospice Patience

Huluagerish (1)Hulagarish is a wife. Hulagarish is a mom. Hulagarish is a cancer patient and Hulagarish is HIV+. Hulagarish’s body is responding to HIV the same way it has for fifteen years, it’s battling for survival, except now, the battle’s end is drawing near. Her body is meager, her hair is thin, and her shoulders are slumped, as if to say, HIV is winning. Hulagarish is desperately weak, her cancer wounds are severe, and she is uncomfortable daily. Our Hospice team visits her a few times a week and they do the best they can to provide basic nursing care, encourage her, and evaluate the progression of herillness. During the past few months the Hospice nurses have heard a consistent but heartbreaking message from Huluagerish, “I want to be with Jesus. I want to go.” While this is difficult to hear, it’s not a time to be sad. It is a time to praise God. Praise God that Hulagarish knows Him, wants to be with Him, understands the limited time she has on earth and is using her restricted time to talk about her “Abba,”Father.

Today, I am thanking God for people like Hulagarish, people who have big faith in our big God!

 

 

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Testimonies from our Volunteers

I absolutely loved Ethiopia and am so thankful I decided to volunteer at Strong Hearts or my trip!  It was so easy and organized. I honestly was not thrilled about coming home from Ethiopia so soon, but I was excited to see my family and share stories. The most heartwarming memories come from the beautiful kids. It’s not easy to describe my experience in words, but here is a blurb I wrote:

 Chelsey Ethiopia_0

 Some may view my time volunteering as monotonous days full of patty-cake, hairstyling, hand holding & teeth cleaning. However, for me it has been 15 amazing days that have fulfilled a childhood dream. I have spent 3 unforgettable weeks doing dental hygiene volunteer work. I spent most of my time at the preschool, but also visited the primary school & hospice.Who knew that tucked away behind 2 unassuming, metal doors were 100 inspiring, joyful children. The amount of interaction that can come from a simple smile, laughter, & a few Amharic words is overwhelming. The kids are absolutely beautiful & have certainly taught me more than I could ever teach them. While they may have a new toothbrush & know to brush twice a day… that seems insignificant when compared to the depth in which they have touched me. Their genuine, innocent smiles are heartwarming. I didn’t come with the motive of changing lives, but rather simply wanting to spread smiles. I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to volunteer with such a wonderful organization. The staff are amazing & their work is selfless. I will carry the memories (and hundreds of “photos”) with me forever. Please know that you helped me fulfill a childhood dream and I could not be happier!

Name: Chelsey

Nationality: UNITED STATES

Age: 22

Destination: Ethiopia

Program Type: Medical

 

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Blessing I received from them rather than what they received from me.

As I approach the finally week of my stay in Ethiopia, I can’t help but feel a bit melancholy! My heart is torn between going home to family and friends and leaving behind the patients I have grown to love. I have been here 5 weeks now and have one week left. It is an overwhelming feeling and filled with mixed emotions.

I was here last February for a 12 day stay. I worked with the Hospice program and knew at the end of my stay, I had to return. In fact, I did not want to leave. It was a true blessing from God that I was able to return within the same year. I was able to reconnect with some of the previous patients and also get to know some new ones. I made my stay for 6 weeks this trip and thought that would surely be more difficult and plenty long. As I approach the final week, I find myself feeling the same way I felt after the previous visit and torn over leaving.

The program I have worked with and grown to love is an amazing blessing for so many cancer and HIV/AIDS patients in the Kore area. The nurses and workers in the Home Hospice Care Program are amazing people. They show the love of Christ through the home visits, caring for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patients on a daily basis. I admire them all for the love of the Lord they spread throughout the community.

While I have been here, I have been blessed beyond words. I have met several women who have shown me how they live my favorite passage in the Bible. Philippians 4:4-9. They have shown me what real strength truly looks like while facing their immortality. They face life and the chance of losing their life with grace, dignity and strength that has no comparison. They face the thought of leaving young children behind but seem to trust the Lord to take care of them. Many of them sleep on a blanket on their dirt floor. The ones who have decent water have it because they carry heavy 5 gallon containers for miles to their home, without complaint. All at the same time they are dying of cancer or HIV/AIDS and most also have TB. Some of them are dealing with the issue of AIDS and Cancer. It is something impossible to grasp, for I don’t think I would have a fraction of the grit these women have. I see it in their smiling faces that greet me at the door when I visit them. I asked myself many times where this perseverance comes from and as I get to know them, I see it comes from their faith in the Lord. They are constantly praising Him throughout this storm they find themselves in. They love Him with all their hearts, souls and minds and praise Him with all their strength. It is an amazing thing to witness and a blessing to experience. Here is the passage I find them living each day I visit them. I am truly blessed!! Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

As I prepare to leave, I find myself wondering what else I can do for them. But at the same time I know the blessings given during this stay were blessing I received from them rather than what they received from me. Then I start planning how and when I will return. I think about the weaker patients that are so dear to my heart and fight back the tears knowing they may not be here to greet me when I return. But I also can rejoice knowing there are no more tears and no more pain in the life that awaits them and I will surely see them again.

I thank the Lord for giving me this new journey and mission for my life. I couldn’t ask for anything more. My cup overflows with joy from the gift He has given me with this experience. I am grateful beyond words.

written by Sami Kleppe

samiray4334@yahoo.com

 

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Family Care Center Sponsorships

Women at the centerIt is hard to believe that we have been up and running now for almost 2 months!  The first couple weeks were a bit hectic with little ones away from their moms or grandmas for the first time.  But after a week or two, they were fine!  Still some tears at drop off, but enjoying their time with their new friends and caregivers.  We have some wonderful staff.  They are so patient, never seem to be tired or annoyed when it is a long day, kids are fussy or we don’t have running water.  Some of the children even cry when their parents pick them up because they are having so much fun!  The majority of the parents are able to work now that they have the freedom to search for a job.  We are looking forward to a small team of women coming from the states that have offered to train our women in handicrafts on Monday!  Love how God weaves people together.  The family that moved into the unit that we were in temporarily when we first moved here, we have gotten to know a bit.  They are a really nice missionary family and they offered to help Strong Families any way they could!  Not as if they do not have their own mission, but they want to help us with our program.  I got a text message offering this training to our mothers and grandmothers.  So we have a 3 day training scheduled for 28 of our beneficiaries!  We are all excited about the things we can learn.  The women will have additional skills and avenues to create more income for their families.  We will post more after this training.

Women lined up at the gate

Since the beginning of the program, we have had 4 families that had to be asked to leave.  One of the the families did not show up on a regular basis and did not have a valid excuse for why they were not coming each day (this was in the first 2 weeks of program).  Another family we discovered that she had more income than what was first reported in the interview process.  She needed assistance, and will have her child enrolled in Strong Academy in a matter of months, but the services that we offer are abundant and are meant for the poorest of the poor.  Another 2 families had infants, and staff believed that they were using their children for begging purposes.  They also could not come up with valid proof as to why they were absent from the program for a length of time, so they were asked to leave.  You will soon be able to view the criteria for being in the program.  One of the rules is that they cannot beg as a job.  This is difficult since this is what a large number of the families did as a source of income.  But we feel strongly that their dignity needs to be restored and this is one way this will happen.  There are many things here that we (as Americans) may view as laid back compared to what we are accustom to, but it is very encouraging to know that we (SF staff) are committed in running a program that demands women to be on time for drop off, pick up, as well as following the rules that have been carefully designed to help the families we are serving.  We have had women come to our gate asking to be in our program, as well as families on the waiting list, so it has not taken us long to fill the slots that were empty.  It is hard to not just invite all of them in, but we know there are many times, several stories that need to be validated before finding out what the true needs of each family are here.

Water DeliveryWe are so thankful for how smoothly things are running at the center.  The children are happy, we are fully staffed, and have some wonderful long term volunteers that help each day.  The biggest challenge has been running water.  Again, I do not know how they do it, but the center is clean, as well as the babies with very little water.  On the days (which in the last 2-3 weeks has been nearly every day) that there is no running water, they come with a horse drawn cart with containers and fill them up at our house (when we have running water) and use that water for the washing clothes, diapers, tushies, floors, dishes, bottles, cook—everything.  Again, amazing staff that strive for the best regardless of circumstances.  We are thankful for donations for a much needed water tank that will be installed on Monday!  So now when the city water is turned on, it will store in this new tank to use for the center.  And if the city water is not working, we will have the option of paying for water to be delivered to fill the tanks.  Not the ideal situation, but better than containers being filled!

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support.  Now it is time to start sharing with all your friends and families about our sponsorships!  Please look at the families, and pray for them.  Even though some of the pictures may appear that they are not happy—I so wish you could see these kids “for real”.  They are the happiest, funniest kids ever!  It is so much fun getting to know them.  Although there is still a one year old that does not care for me at all and pretty much starts crying if I look at her!  When visitors come (any white person, that is) the kids still are leary of them…some of them crying, most just being very silent!  This is so funny to me of course, since I know some of them are crazy 2 year olds that are full of energy!

Blessings to you all as you help us spread the word!

Sponsor a child

 

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