We started our day by visiting Hope for the Hopeless- it's an outreach to street kids in Addis. I was completely blown away by this small transition center/orphanage. The director is a man after God's own heart. He and his staff minister to street kids from age 5 to 15 years. Yes, you read that correctly- they minister to children who live in the streets of Addis. Their staff invites boys and girls to come to their transition center for a meal, a shower, a place to wash their clothes.... the children can come and go but the goal is to have them stay. If they choose to stay they will live in this location for 3-6 months (until they relearn to obey instructions from adults) then they will go to the orphanage outside Addis. The goal is to transition the child back to their family (if it is safe) or to live with a guardian.
During their 3-6 month stay in Addis they attend school, receive discipleship, the child works with a psychologist to help the healing process. Healing from what you ask? Many of these children have been exposed to physical and/or sexual violence, they have learned survival techniques required to survive on the streets of Addis. Many of the boys we met had scars on their faces and heads as a result of street fights with other street kids. The children are not forced to stay, it is completely their choice, and some choose to leave because they will not abide by the rules. The staff learns everything about these children in order to rebuild their lives, their future.
We hung out with the children, drew with chalk, gave them balloons and listened to their stories. Pete had an IPOD with speakers with him. One little boy took to the music right away never leaving Pete's side. Another little boy who was about 8 years old traveled 500 kilometers by bus (alone!) from his village to escape his drunken, abusive father…because of Hope for the Hopeless he has hope for the future.
Later that afternoon we would meet one of the two girls, Meron, who live at Hope for the Hopeless. Meron's story is told in Tom Davis' book- Red Letters. Meron's parents were sick so they sent her to a relative who enslaved her and abused her. She ran away to find her parents but learned they had died. Now she was alone on the streets of Addis with no place to turn. She stayed awake for 3 days trying to avoid the street gangs of boys only to be discovered.... unthinkable things happened to her. The staff for Hope for the Hopeless found her and brought her back to the transition center. This is were she began to heal.
After we left Hope for the Hopeless we went to Compassion Family International. This is a drop in center for vulnerable children. If it were not for this center these children ages 2 to 8 years old would be home alone or on the streets while their parents are at work. We were so touched by this ministry and the children we asked what the most important need was. We were told mattresses. The children at this location napped at their desks! Needless to say they did not nap for very long! We were able to provide money to purchase mattresses and bedding.
At this point we were suppose to be meeting some people for dinner. However the Holy Spirit prompted us to talk about Hope for the Hopeless. Our group huddled together and decided that we would go back to provide them money for food- their biggest need. When Tom called the director to say were were on our way, the director said that they had been praying for a miracle all day. They had run out of food and had no money in the bank. Karen and her van stopped along the way to purchase bought 10 kilos of bananas, 10 kilos of oranges, 9 kilos of carrots and 7 loaves of bread and delivered it with the funds to the transition center. When the funds and food were presented to the director there was not a dry eye in the group. The transition staff were openly weeping. You could feel the Holy Spirit among us. I cannot adequately describe the intensity of the moment but I know that we were an answer to prayer. For those of you who donated money, please know you were a big part of today.
Here is a clip of our team at Hope for the Hopeless.