I feel as if we can take a collective sigh of relief, as this has been a long journey for all of us. We cannot thank our Street Team enough for your patience, endurance, and sacrifices to see this seed of a dream become a reality. Because of you, today, five young boys in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia are being extended mercy and being invited into what we hope and pray will be lasting life change that will domino into a cultural change that one day means no child will ever again live on the street in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Those are some big, pie-in-the sky dreams, but change begins with just one child, and here we are pursuing and investing in five.
Five young boys who call the streets home beside the Yidnekachew Tessema Stadium in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia have been identified by our in-country Ethiopian director, Dawit, together with the government (per Ethiopia regulations) as the first five boys welcomed into our NGO program. For some time now, Dawit has cautiously and carefully been building a relationship of trust with these children. This takes perseverance and patience. It would not be wise, or that possible, to enter these boys’ life and immediately scoop them out of their environment (the only place they really do consider home right now), and expect them to immediately trust our staff enough to live in a safe house across the city and begin the work of family reunification and rehabilitating back into society. This would do far more harm to these children, which is the last thing that we desire for them. Dawit has been entering their world, spending time with the boys during the day at cafes, buying them occasional meals and drinks, talking to them, understanding who they are and what they have come from, speaking truth and hope into their lives, constantly mentioning a ‘new and different way to live’, and truly just sitting with them and seeing them as individual human beings with hopes and dreams. Dawit has also met up with them on a few nights. He has seen where they sleep outside the stadium, and he has listened and witnessed some of their fears. He has taken the time to understand why they feel led to make harmful choices in order to cope with the harm inflicted upon them and the reality of their current life. He is building trust. He is letting these children know that he is a person who cares deeply, and that he can be trusted. This is , at times, painfully slow, as Dawit will have to earn their trust. It will not be given up easily. These children have been through too much horror to just allow someone to walk into their lives and assume trustworthiness over that person.
This trust building will continue, and the message of hope, of a different way of life really being possible, will be an ever present dialogue. In the next few weeks, Mercy Branch will rent a safe space for these boys in order for them to sleep off of the street. This safe space is most similar to a homeless shelter here in the states, but rent is required in order to stay the night. This will give the boys a bed, and a roof over their head, for the first time in a very long time. They will remain in their environment, but have a safe, warm space at night. Dawit will begin to step into the boys’ lives even more frequently, and Mercy Branch will provide more meals for the boys at this point. Dawit will begin to share more about what this ‘new and different way to live’ can look like for them. He will be sensitive and careful, and will not push the children to take the next step until they are ready, but he will pursue them in a radical way that we pray will make an eternal difference in these children. This trust building will continue, and the message of hope, of a different way of life really being possible, will be an ever present dialogue.
The next step is a drastic one. The boys will be invited to move across the city and into our safe house into a family-based structure. They will be removed from their environment, and the hard work of rehabilitation and family reunification will begin in earnest. But we are not there yet. Our boys are not yet ready for this invitation. When they are, we will share more with you of how this fleshes out. Until then, please be praying for these five boys. Please pray that they can open their hearts up to trust our staff, specifically Dawit, that they can understand how loved and valuable they are, and that they will begin to desire a ‘new and different way to live’. Everyday these children face dangerous and harmful situations, safety is one of our biggest concerns for them, please pray that God would protect these children in only a way that He can. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for investing in these children. Together, perhaps one day, the dream of seeing no more children living on the streets of Addis Ababa, will come true. Until then…..we partner with God in each of these small steps forward.