All week I have been settling into home and wondering where to begin with sharing the days I had with the children and staff of Chapa in Ethiopia. This trip was one of the best of my life yet I find myself speechless when it comes to sharing all the emotion and the details. Processing all that we saw has been slow this time as I was touched in a deeper more profound way. The need in Ethiopia is without a doubt some of the greatest in the world yet the people are so rich in spirit, kindness, affection and love. It is a country and her people I yearn for within minutes of leaving.
The narrow road leading to the school/church compound was stunning and smiles were seen from most of those in the community as our van rolled in. There was an original Vision team from the US who went in a few years back to identify and create the school of Chapa as a Children’s Hopechest Carepoint but since then Chapa has not seen white visitors. The children were all in their various classrooms when we arrived and they peered a bit nervously from the simple room built up on stilts.
On the blackboards were English words and basic math equations and the teachers, dressed in lab coats, were eager to have the children recite words and sing to us. We moved from classroom to classroom and I was amazed how many children were being educated at Chapa. There were at least 320 children and their greetings brought a lump to my throat each time I needed to speak. Each comment I made had to be translated from English to Amharic and then to Sidamo. Chapa is outside of Hawassa in the Sidamo region nearly five hours outside of the capital city, Addis Ababa.
After introductions we walked with the leaders of Chapa and Children’s Hopechest and created a list of needs for the compound. There are many needs. The children need better classrooms with ventilation and light. A plan is in place to create more classrooms and potentially add teachers once more children are sponsored and the funding in place. They compound needs a sanitation system and a kitchen area. There are many more ideas… better uniforms, shoes for all, a library, etc. The ideas are endless, but in spite of the need I still saw hope and hard work. The children of Chapa spend their day with a purpose and there is hope in children growing up with education and basic necessities of life. They were learning and playing and interacting with others their age. They were being children and spending their days with purpose. That for me was a powerful realization wherever we were. Children in school are able to thrive. Our standards of thriving might all look different but one essential take away from my days in Ethiopia was this. People do not need all that we have., but rather they need a place to learn and a place to feel valued and secure. It is critical to breaking the pattern of children who take to the streets searching for something more. Education is key to building up the future generation. Sponsorship through programs such as CHidlren’s Hope Chest is vital to providing children with value and purpose through education. They have a place to be each day in spite of hardship, hunger, poverty, illness and other extreme situations that they endure on a regular and very real basis.
Chapa was a beautiful place of refuge and hope and we were grateful to spend two days interacting with the children, staff and Hopechest leaders to better understand what monthly sponsorship dollars can do to generate better conditions at the school and beyond. Many children we not sure about our big cameras but it did not take long for a few to warm up with smiles.
After play and teaching bible songs…
we began the huge task of separating all the kids who have sponsors into one large group. That way we could begin to pass out care packages and take photos to share with sponsor families. It was a challenging task among 300 students and it felt funny to know that all the other children had to sit and watch us go through the process. It was motivation to me to come home advocating even harder for each child who attends Chapa to have a sponsor. I want every child to receive a care package during our next trip. I want every Chapa child to be receiving letters and specific prayers. We can do this and please if you sponsor a child… please tell someone you know and encourage he or she to sponsor a child. Sponsorship does make a difference and in desperate communities we saw children thriving within the sponsorship environment. I am still processing individual photos for sponsorship families so please be patient. I will be getting them emailed out soon. Needless to say there were many faces that looked like this… filled with joy!
One of the best parts of our journey to Chapa was the feast we were able to provide. We had this guy
for lunch after the women in the community worked all night to prepare our amazing FEAST. I’ll be blogging about the feast soon…
Until then please know that the children of Chapa need our continued prayers. They are all precious in His sight and deserve to be reminded of His love through the relationship and support of a sponsor.
Peace and Grace,