What sponsoring children has taught me…

Today I received this photo from a friend living in Ethiopia who is working with Project 61 as they get the many sponsored kids back to boarding school.

Tadessa helping to get the many kids prepared for the journey back to school


Pictured in this photo is a 17 year old child who we have come to call brother and son. His name is Tadessa and I met Tadessa nearly a year and a half ago when I made my first trip into Korah while meeting our daughter for the first time in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Korah is a very poor community near the huge trash dumping grounds for all of Addis Ababa. Many years ago lepers and those with no resources were forced into the area of Korah which literally means “cursed.” To this day the trash that is brought into Korah is sought out to be sold or help to in some way sustain those living nearby who have no other options.

The doors to the van were quickly pulled open and the children were immediately surrounding me to welcome me to the church and to Korah. They were happy souls, smiling and reaching out for my hand and hugs. Within moments I was so overwhelmed I reached out to a shy but smiling older boy who helped me to navigate the rock and rain filled roads. I had never seen such mud and I quickly became selfishly afraid of slipping and landing in the some of the filth I saw on the streets. Tadessa read my mind and within moments we were arm in arm and he was guiding me to walk with him to show me work being done down the street in Korah. I trusted him immediately and knew I had met a child that would forver change my heart if only for that day.

The morning marched on and we did a great deal of walking and communicating with those living with tremendous needs in Korah. I helped to document families in need of sponsors and learned more about how Project 61 was removing children living and eating from the trash dump to attend a boarding school several hours away. By the time my visit was over I was certain we would sponsor a child for the year. I had to say my goodbyes and wished so desperately at that moment that I was able to speak Amharic, if only a few words to convey my gratitude to Tadessa for the help and respect he had shown me through the day.  I turned to the ministry leaders and asked if Tadessa could attend the school with the other children who already had sponsors. His face lit up as the driver lurched forward into the rocky mud. I explained that I would inquire further once I was home from our trip.

I returned to Ethiopia just three weeks later to complete the adoption of our daughter. Fortunately I was also able to invite Tadessa to join our adoption group for a traditional Ethiopian dinner. The respect that poured out from that dear boy’s face was quite frankly different than I have ever witnessed. He presented me with a gift, never let go of my hand, attempted to feed me while I was holding Ava (a sign of love and respect in Ethiopia) and never stopped peering into my eyes and thanking me.

Our Dear Tadessa

Fast forward to this summer and let me tell you all about the changes in Tadessa’s life. Tadessa completed his year at the boarding school and did so with honors. He is in fact ranked third in his class in spite of going many years without school and existing for some time in the trash dump. Tadessa writes to me and to our family and has shown such a desire to serve others. This summer he worked with the medical missions teams visiting Korah and is truly a leader when it comes to mentoring the children who come to the shelter for food once a day and mentoring during the time school is closed.  Ihave been told his English has improved and he is often acting as a translator. Can’t wait until we can communicate during my next visit.

It was essential I share my long story in order to say that I have learned that sponsorship is similar to birthing or adopting children. Tadessa may live thousands of miles away but we are family. I never knew that simply lifting up a child from the trenches of despair would be so rewarding not only for us as a family but also for the child. What I know now is that the simple act of building a relationship and providing basic needs for Tadessa to become educated and to be mentored and nourished has given him hope and a future. Tadessa is just like any child… he has great big dreams. Sponsoring him has helped him see that he is worthy of working and praying toward his dream. He is worthy and he is someone special in the eyes of our family and certainly in the eyes of God. Without knowing Tadessa well, we took a leap of faith, we jumped in with both feet with the understanding that no child deserves to feel alone and no child can grow to become whole, or a future leader in his or her community without education and discipleship. God loves us so that we might give ourslebes and our love away to others in need. God’s love does make the world go roun,d bringing a hope and a future to those children living in despair. Don’t miss the chance to love big and change a life… begin with one, one step, one inquiry, one email, one letter, one child to sponsor and remember for that one child you are the hands and feet of Jesus.

I have many precious children of Awassa, Ethiopia who wait for us to act. The simple act of sponsorship ($34/ mo) changes a life forever. Please contact me if you would like to learn more at grstrobels@sbcglobal.net.

Peace and Grace,



One thought on “What sponsoring children has taught me…”

  1. This post has me sobbing! Sponsorship has changed our lives, too. We sponsor two children in Ethiopia, and we are hoping to sponsor another soon also. When I spent time in Korah in July, I was overwhelmed with the children going from person to person.. “sponsor? you sponsor?” searching for sponsors, or sponsors for their brother/sister, or sponsors for their friends. They want sponsors so desperately because they KNOW what sponsorship CAN DO!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *