I’m 18 years old and I am finishing up my first year of college at Motlow State Community College. After next year I will transfer to MTSU where I will get my Masters in speech and language pathology and audiology. This past year and a half has been one of real confusion and uncertainty. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, which made me very anxious. It got to the point where my walk with the Lord got more and more distant. I was searching for my peace and security in knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I was trying to find attributes of Him apart from Him.
In the midst of this rut, I traveled with OH over to Ethiopia. I have traveled to Ethiopia 3 times total, my first trip being when we adopted my brother Henok, and the other two times with OH. The Lord has really used my time spent there to reveal Himself to me in multiple ways.
This past trip was really hard for me because when you go back, you see some of the same sweet faces in the same heartbreaking conditions. I realized quickly that I can not change the world. I can not even change the heartbreaking statistics that are prevalent in Ethiopia. But I can change the world for one person. And that is more than enough. After this last trip in December 2017 I was really at a loss on what I needed to do next… should I take time off of school and do an internship in Ethiopia? Am I meant to be there full-time? I knew I wanted to get more involved.
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that now is not the time for me to be over there full-time but that it didn’t mean I had to stop making a difference. I have always had a heart for kids and I started thinking on how I could get younger kids involved. This is when I thought of the after school “change drive”. Through this, I wanted to empower children to make a difference they otherwise wouldn’t have. I wanted them to understand the world is much bigger than their everyday life and I wanted them to be able to see the vast differences between themselves and kids across the world… but how in the same respect they can relate to them. I wanted them to connect with kids in Ethiopia. I wanted to bridge the gap.
So over the span of 4 weeks I taught these children the heartbreaking statistics. They learned faces and stories. They learned that seemingly meaningless things here make all the difference there. They were stirred to make a difference because they finally understood their ability to. It was a privilege to see these kids give selflessly. Listen intently. Love deeply. And grow immensely.
I think that through this program the kids of Woodland Park Elementary not only changed lives for kids in Ethiopia with their change…. I think that the kids in Ethiopia changed the lives of the kids at Woodland Park Elementary.
The different activities included: 1. making cards using Amharic greetings (they got to learn Amharic words!) 2. Talking about the people of Korah who work at Lila Products and how they make beads and jewelry to provide for their families (the kids then made jewelry out of paper beads, realizing how hard it truly is!) 3. making a banner where the kids made their mark with their handprints. 4. reading a book about how they can continue to change the world!
See that’s the thing. We don’t have to do huge things or travel across the world to make a change. It starts here with the people God has put around you. We love one person at a time. Here. There. And everywhere. The kids at Woodland Park ended up raising $94.17! These kids gave it all they had and I would have been content if they raised $50 because that would have been a dollar per kid… but they went above and beyond, and learned while doing it. I couldn’t be prouder of them! I thank God for giving me the opportunities that he has. I love advocating for OH. I love being a voice to the voiceless. I think that is why I choose to be a speech and language pathologist…. in a sense, I get to be the voice for people who cannot verbally communicate for themselves… and then I get to help them find theirs. It is beautiful to witness and be apart of, and I am excited for many more change drives to come!