Children living in a slum in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
This verse from the Proverbs is familiar to many Christian parents, and it is many schools and churches’ core value on teaching children. So how should we teach our children? Early exposure of different interests to help children find their gifts? Take various courses to educate children about different knowledge? Choose a reputable school and church to help children nurture good characters?
Since 1994, CEDAR has been supporting Ethiopian Guenet Church Development and Welfare Organisation* (EGCDWO)’s child sponsorship project in the slums of Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The project provides impoverished children with education, basic living, and health support, while also addressing their psychological and spiritual needs through Bible education, home visits, and counselling. In 2011, our partner also facilitated parents and caretakers of benefited children to form self-help groups. Business training and microloans are available for group members to start small businesses, and eventually become self-reliant.
In the past 23 years, this ministry has helped over 500 children – all of them were under the care of three dedicated social workers. These children came from single-parent families or they have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. They are the most vulnerable group of children who lack care and love. The social workers told us that if these children were not helped, they would likely become street children or fall prey to be used by criminals.
Currently, more than 150 children are being sponsored by the project. Besides distribution of material gifts, project staff value more on each child’s development and well-being. They make regular visits to the homes of children and provide counselling for the children and their parents or caretakers. The social workers often encourage children: “You can be born poorly, but poverty is not your destiny.” They want children to understand that no matter where one comes from, God has given every one gifts and talents. They teach children with biblical values to act justly and be honest, because having good morals is much more important than being successful.
Whenever the children face difficulties, they like to share with project staff. Sometimes, the project staff even make their houses available to accommodate children during life crisis, because they think of these children as their own. Some of the children continue to keep contact with the project staff even after they have grown up and left the slum, because the project staff have become their life-long mentors and parents.
Because of project staff’s encouragement and devoted care, today, many of the children graduated from university, some became doctors, accountants, and engineers. These graduates are now able to take care of their own family with a stable income, and some return to the community and form an alumni committee to share their experience and knowledge with other children currently in the project, passing on the care and love they once received. When the project staff witness the life transformation of these alumni, many became faithful Christian serving at church, they said the children have truly been born again.
From left: Project Director Abraham, CEDAR’s colleague Hollace, Social Workers: Wolde, Meheret, Mesker, and EGCDWO Children Ministry Manager Admasu
Today, each of the three project staff is serving about 50 children, but they never felt tired. They said, “I want to help more! Help more!” Their dream is for each of them to help 100 children, so they can help a total of 300 children. Because they have seen changes in one child can change one family, and eventually stir up changes in the community. Over two decades of commitment to these vulnerable children demonstrated their unconditional love and life example. They have lived out the teaching of Proverbs 22:6.
May God bless these children to be the light in the slums and favour His servants’ work!
Please pray for CEDAR and EGCDWO’s children ministry in Ethiopia:
- Pray that the children and their family will come to know Christ through home visits and meetings with project staff; pray for children who have decided to follow Jesus Christ that they will enjoy fellowship at church and grow wisely in God’s words.
- The project will start a programme called Love Sponsorship to invite brothers and sisters at local churches to give love and support to the children besides monetary gifts; may God use this programme to build up children’s faith and hope to walk out of poverty.
- Pray for God’s moving love to continue motivate project staff in their work; grant them health and wisdom, so their work will be blessings to the children and community.
- The project is entering its last phase and will be phasing out in the next few years; pray that God will rise up members of the communities and previous beneficiaries to sustain the work of this project and continue to care for vulnerable children in the community.
*CEDAR Fund had supported the Addis Ababa Child Sponsorship Project since 1994, first partnering with Addis Ababa Guenet Church (AAGC); and in 2016, AAGC’s headquarters, Ethiopian Guenet Church Development and Welfare Organisation (EGCDWO), began to manage the project directly with CEDAR’s continued support.