Adopted Brothers Give Back To Children In Need

It is great when we see people giving back to children in need, but it is even better when we see those who were helped themselves, giving back to children in need.

Mother, Jacqueline Gustafson, met Founder, Kelly Putty, during her stay at the Ordinary Hero Guest House to adopt her son from Ethiopia. The Gustafson’s have two boys from Ethiopia, Marjock and Abraham. Abraham is 10 and joined their family at 6 months old and Marjok is 9 and joined their family at 7 years old (on Christmas Day!).

Jacqueline wanted to make sure her boys did not lose sight of where they came from, so she began starting conversations with them about how they could be a blessing to children in their home country of Ethiopia. They receive an allowance each week by doing yard work, cleaning, and projects around the house, and the two brothers agreed to save $2 every week from their allowance. After an entire year, they had raised over $200 together! Not bad for a 10 and 9 year old. The Gustafson family decided to utilize our Mission Market, where anyone can buy much needed items for the children and families we serve in Ethiopia, and purchased three pairs of shoes and a school bundle, which will provide a child with all the education materials needed for an entire year.

A little generosity can go a long way, and we are so thankful for the Gustafson family sharing their story with us. We believe these small seeds of generosity will grow into a lifetime of service to others. Thanks for being an inspiration!

Meet Our New Executive Director

We are thrilled to announce the newest addition to the Ordinary Hero team, Ellen Peterson, as our new Executive Director. In addition to a huge heart for global missions, Ellen brings with her a wide range of experience and expertise. She has been working in nonprofit for almost 20 years doing everything from fundraising and operations to communications and staff development. We did a short Q&A with Ellen so that you can get to know and love her like we do!

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: background, passions, hobbies, family.

I’m a proud Tennessean and was born and raised in Nashville, but after completing my degree at Auburn University, I moved to Houston, TX to work in ministry. What I thought would be a 1-2 year adventure, turned into almost 17 years in TX! Like they say, everything’s bigger in TX, including the hearts of the people. But once my husband, Grant, and I had children, we felt a tug toward a smaller, slower-paced place to raise our two kids, Megan and Brian. So, we packed up and moved back to Middle Tennessee in 2014. We love the two lane roads, driving past the horse farms, and watching our kids get dirty in the Little Harpeth River. I love a long hike with the dog, a good book, Auburn football, and live music. I also feel like I should sound way more interesting, but I’m really rather ordinary. Which is what drew me to Ordinary Hero in the first place!

  1. What’s your previous involvement with global missions?

 I became involved in Global Missions through the church where I worked in Houston. While I was working in Youth Ministry, the church created a new position to help support our global mission partners and I jumped at the chance to be involved. I became the Director of Global Missions and had the privilege of encouraging our mission partners around the globe, leading mission teams to serve in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Mexico, Croatia, Budapest and Kenya. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life! Once you experience the vast creativity of God, seen in the diversity of his people and circumstances all over the world, you’re awakened to a new understanding of his love! As many of you involved with Ordinary Hero already know, you can’t encounter the people of Ethiopia and come home unchanged.

  1. What made you want to join the Ordinary Hero team?

As I mentioned, most days I feel pretty ordinary. We live in the ‘burbs’, and we’re raising two kids that do “burby” things like sports and scouts. It’s easy to forget that there’s a big, wide world out there that we’re called to serve and love. Ordinary Hero is about just that…ordinary people “changing the world for one.” I think that’s a message that applies to all of us; whether our heart is in Ethiopia or with our neighbors down the road.

  1. What are you most looking forward to in the future?

I’m most excited to meet all of you! Kelly and I are going to Ethiopia in November so I can meet the mission partners, see the children and families you are sponsoring, and get a feel for how all these pieces work. I can’t wait to see the faces of the people Ordinary Hero is impacting in Ethiopia, then come back to the US to keep encouraging you in our ministry together. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity; let’s go change the world for one!


So what does that mean for Founder, Kelly Putty? Though Kelly will no longer be leading as Executive Director, she will continue to lead from a Founder’s role, telling the Ordinary Hero story and advocating for children in need through speaking engagements and trips to Ethiopia.

Please join us in welcoming Ellen Peterson to the OH team!


What Will I Do With What I’ve Seen?

Guest Blog, by Kenneth Poindexter
“My last trip to Ethiopia with Ordinary Hero was life changing. I was surrounded by a great team and a very strong leader, Kelly Putty, to follow and learn from her example on how to be an ordinary hero. Our experience was full of life with the kids, staff and most importantly God himself. There is never an ordinary trip with Ordinary Hero because it involves layers of heart, struggles, questions, topping off with the question of “What am I going to do?”; “How am I going to change the world for “One”.
During the trip we witnessed such suffering and poverty, but in the very middle of it was the joy of people who had nothing but leaned on the mighty army of God. My spirit was quickened to the things I was afraid of in life: If I was in the same condition and situation as the people that I was trying to serve, would I have the same gladness of heart as they do? Would I still praise God as they do?
This led me to make a stand, that I would not return home the same old way. There had to be a change in my life. I decided to make my prayer life a priority on behalf of those who are in Ethiopia, to thank God for their loving spirit. I also decided to go back to school for a Masters in Christian Leadership, so that God may use me for His Glory.
Thank you Ordinary Hero for giving me a freshness in my walk and my life.”

How $50 Per Month Changed Lives, Including Mine / Guest Blog

Guest Blog, written by Madison Novacek:

“Before I go into my lengthy caption for these very important photos, I just want to start off by saying that I am not asking for praise or wanting to make this seem like I’m bragging in any way. My hope is that even if you get that vibe right away, that you can let the judgement go and listen to the greater message behind this post:

It just took 1,800 dollars.
50 dollars a month.
3 years.

That’s all it took for me to receive this amazing email today:

“I wanted to let you know that your sponsor family, Lome, has officially graduated from sponsorship!!! This is incredible news as it means that they are completely self sufficient and actually have been for a few months now. The money that has been sent for the past few months was put into their savings account and they have done well making it on their own. The business is profitable and your family was truly happy to be graduating.
We celebrated with cake, coffee, and speeches from each family who graduated. I cannot even begin to express the gratefulness your family had for you when it was their turn to speak. LOVE…that is the best way to describe how they spoke about you and your support and encouragement.”

IM SHARING THIS SO WE CAN ALL CELEBRATE TOGETHER! And maybe by me sharing this today I can encourage you to let it be known that ANYONE is capable of making an impact. The best part is it doesn’t always require as much effort as you think.

Sometimes all it requires is a “Yes, I’ll help you because even with whatever excuses I can find, I recognize that I have privilege and resources to help.” I literally did nothing. This was not me. I just kept living my comfortable life while 50 dollars got automatically taken out of my account every month, and this was the result. Lives changed, mine included.


Thank you for reading this and celebrating such an awesome moment.”


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Water Tank Project – Yirgalem, Ethiopia

Thanks to generous donations, a 2000 liter water tank was installed at the Talita Rise Up Orphanage in Yirgalem. This water tank will not only spare the ministry staff with the arduous task of walking to fill their water jugs each day, but will also provide them with water security during times of drought. The new system will provide the much needed clean water for daily tasks such as making formula, cooking, and bathing for the children. But that is not the only benefit that this water tank provided.  When the system arrived, village locals were hired to install the system, providing jobs and boosting the local economy.  As we know, every little bit helps!

Everyone is looking forward to enjoying the fresh, clean water made possible by supporters like you! If you would like to get involved with other projects like this, please contact Kelly Blevins at to learn about our latest ministry needs and how you can help.

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An Excerpt From My Journal / Guest Blog

Its been some time since I returned back to the States. The thing is my feet are here, but my heart is there. I got to talk to Habtamu between classes at school today. I miss him so much that it hurts, but hearing his familiar giggle and broken english put a little joy in my heart.


My mind often wanders to the sweet faces we met on this trip. My heart aches for these people, what did they do to deserve this? I am learning how to trust God with a deeper faith than I have in the past. I recognize there are things that I simply cannot control, but I rest knowing that Jesus is in control of all things. I rest knowing I can hand my every worry and my every doubt to Him because NO Earthly worry is too big for my God.

“Love like Jesus”.

I have repeatedly played this saying through my head since I have returned. Going back to school as soon as I got back to the States opened my eyes to so much. One being that I struggle loving His people here compared to how naturally I love those overseas. This has been a constant struggle for me and I’ve been working so hard at it. Surrounding myself in prayer from start to finish everyday has helped me to consciously love His people, no matter the color of their skin, the condition of their clothing, or the social status that they attain.”

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.”

God calls us to love His people just like He has loved us from the very beginning. He has protected us, guided us, and loved us since the very second we were brought onto this Earth and we owe it to Him to love His creations just as He would.

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5-Year-Olds Can Change the World Too

5-year-old Tucker is changing the world for lots of children on Entoto Mountain. For the second year in a row Tucker is making his birthday about more than himself. This year, in partnership with the Be One Rummage Sale, he was able to collect 60 jackets for children in need in a cold area of Ethiopia. Last year he and his brother, Ben, collected backpacks.

Tucker said, “I just want to help my friends in Africa”.

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Both of his parents have traveled to Ethiopia, and his mother has traveled twice. It’s pretty clear that even without having been, Tucker has caught his parents’ heart for the country! We are so thankful for all the little world changers that are making a difference in the lives of children in need at such a young age. There’s a lot to be learned from the heart of a child.

Thanks Tucker!

HOPE / Guest Blog by Abby Camp

Hope, the thing with feathers, an anchor for the soul. Hope is a word I have thought a lot about this week.

hope that child will have a family that loves him one day.

hope that sweet mother has enough food to feed her children.

hope that child grows up to be the doctor he wants to be.

hope I can be the change this world needs.

Unfortunately, one person can’t change this messed up world.  That is God’s job. So I guess all we can really hope for is to be the change for one person. That is exactly what Ordinary Hero stands for.

For me, this week was unlike any other mission trip I’ve ever been on.  I left Nashville with tears in my eyes as I said goodbye to my family, leaving to spend 2 and a half months in a place I’ve never been and with people I’ve never met.

hope I love it there.

Thankfully, it was so easy to fall in love with this country and it’s culture. Everyone is so loving, so welcoming. Within 7 days, I have met some of my best friends. I hope God has used me to touch their lives the way I know they have touched mine.

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The most impactful part of my week here was being able to see the effects sponsorship has on these families and children. I was a little confused when so many kids were coming up to me, showing me pictures of American families, and pointing out their mom, dad, brothers, and sisters.  At first, I thought maybe they were in the process of being adopted but I quickly realized they were referring to their sponsor families. These children will think of you as their family. They will love you in a way you have never been loved before. What is only a small amount of money each month for us can provide a family with the things they need to survive. Children are starving everyday here in Ethiopia and we have the ability to change that. Watching families meet their sponsors this week has really opened my eyes to the many ways you can change the world for one.

I no longer have to hope I can change someone’s life.  I can!!!

If you are interested in sponsoring a child, please visit this link:

Ordinary Hero Sponsorship Program 
I can’t wait to share more about my time here in Ethiopia! As they say “Selam” (Peace) and God bless you!

-Abby Camp

Photo Blog | Korah Landslide Donations

 Thanks to your generous support, we have been able to provide basic necessities to those who lost everything in the Korah Landslide a few weeks ago.

Below are some pictures of what your donations made possible…

Household Materials: broom, pots, cups, plates, buckets, storage, coffee set, laminate flooring, etc.

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Meals for hundreds living in tents

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Coffee and tea are part of every day life in Ethiopia –

200 coffee cups and 200 tea cups were bought for families


Water, coffee beans, and snacks were distributed throughout the day


14 mattresses were distributed to those living in tents as well as those receiving new housing.

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These two young girls were homeless after the Landslide.

Your donations gave them a place to call home, and fully furnished it.

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Your donations helped meet medical needs of families and children, like the ones below.


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And our staff continues to spend time with these families, loving on and encouraging them..





Thank you for your continued support toward the Korah Community. These pictures represent a small fraction of all that you’ve made possible. Our ministry partner and their staff are working diligently every day to restore the lives of those affected by the Landslide.

If you would still like to give, click here.


Orphan Sunday : Our Approach To the Orphan Crisis


Today we celebrate Orphan Sunday, a day that is dear to our hearts. A day that raises awareness for the children whose stories have changed our lives forever. The majority of our staff at Ordinary Hero have adopted one or more children, so this one is personal for us.

Although many numbers and statistics will be shared today, each number is an individual story that deserves individual attention. We try not to assume that one approach fits every case.

The reality is, most of the Western world believes orphans to be children who have lost both parents and are living in orphanages.

UNICEF defines orphans as children who have lost one or both parents. Of the more than 132 million children that fall into this category, less than 10% have lost both parents, and the majority of orphans are living with a surviving parent, grandparent, or other family member.

So with this in mind, we seek to know the story behind the child and family. We strive to support them to the best of our ability to ensure they reach their full potential. Below are some stories that sum up our approach to the orphan crisis. We hope this sheds light, not only on the issue at hand, but how we can change the reality of the orphan crisis, one life at a time.

1) Keeping families together

Too often children are orphaned because their parent(s) do not have the means to care for them. Ordinary Hero seeks to strengthen families through sponsorship, so that families can stay together.

Eulalem is 29 years old. She is originally from an area called Gojam. Eulalem came to Addis Ababa 4 years ago because she felt like she could find a better life with more opportunity in the city. She ended up settling in Korah as the cost of living in the trash dump was much cheaper than anything else she could afford. Her husband left her when she was pregnant with her daughter and she has not seen him since then. Her child’s name is Rahel and she is 3 and a half.

Eulalem recently told us the following,

“My daughter already has and will continue to change my life in incredible ways. I used to want to give my child away because I couldn’t support her but this sponsorship has given me hope. I cannot imagine not having my daughter, so this sponsorship has kept me united with my beautiful child. There are not enough thanks in the universe for our sponsor!”

2) Supporting orphaned children that reside with family members

Extreme poverty often splits families in different, complicated ways. Whatever the case, both double and single orphans are often taken in by existing family members that strive to the best of their ability to care for the child. Through sponsorship, we seek to support these family members and their effort to care for orphaned children within their family.

Desash Desalegn is one of our precious grandmothers who is caring for her granddaughter, Bethlehem (Beti). Beti’s father is currently in prison for committing murder, and even though it was an act of self-defense, in Ethiopia it is still a crime that is punishable by jail time. Once Beti’s father went to prison, her mother moved to the Middle East to find work and no one has heard from her since.


Beti is well adjusted and greatly loved by her grandmother. She is 14 years old now and in Grade 8 at Bright Hope School in the Korah community. She is loving her History and Social Studies classes this year in school and LOVES soccer! She is determined to become a famous soccer player when she grows up and works hard at it often.

3) Supporting double orphans

One of our partner ministries, Talita Rise Up, located in a town called Yirgalem, facilitates an orphanage for abandoned babies. These babies are found frequently in forests, toilets, trash cans, and the like. Talita Rise Up is the only ministry of it’s kind in the village that accepts babies from the police, and we have come alongside them through sponsorship to support them.

One of the babies that have been brought to the center is sweet baby Agaze, pictured below.


It’s been an amazing year of support for Talita Rise Up, with many great things having taken place at the orphanage as well as in the community.  Our most exciting report is that some of the children in the orphanage have been moved into the care of a foster family, which gives them a deeper sense of love, stability, and security.

Talita Rise Up partners with churches in their town of Yirg’Alem to carry out this task and have seen great results. The reason that the foster care program was started was because the government closed all international adoptions in this part of Ethiopia.  It is nearly impossible to find domestic families willing or able to adopt thus the need for foster care. In order for the child to be placed with a family, the foster family must have a home study, medical check up, criminal record checks, and the training that the orphanage staff gives. After this, a child is chosen and the family is introduced to them over a 15 day period. This allows them to get to know the child before signing the papers. The family then agrees to care for the child and give the love he/she needs while the Talita Rise Up staff agrees to visit the child and provide any documentation that may be needed by the family.

Sweet baby Agaze has been placed in a loving home in the city of Addis Ababa and is doing extremely well.

4) Supporting those that are interested in adoption

Lastly, for those that have chosen the beautiful journey of adopting from Ethiopia, we open our doors to you and invite you to stay in our home away from home, the OH Guest House & Life Center: an oasis and safe place to bond with your child in Ethiopia while undergoing the frequent hurdles that come with international adoption.


“Since I was a child I have always loved children and helping others. As a teenager I was able to go to Mexico twice on eye opening mission’s trips. I hated seeing the people, especially children, in such desperate situations and witnessed toddlers sniffing glue in a trash dump to mask their hunger. These trips ignited a fire in my core and I knew that I wanted to adopt some day. Shortly after celebrating my one year anniversary to the love of my life, Brian, our hearts were shattered when we were told we were unable to conceive a baby. That was incredibly devastating news as newlyweds, but it obvious for us that we wanted to grow our family through adoption. We were introduced to a local couple who had successfully adopted 3 of the most beautiful children I had ever seen. They explained they were from Ethiopia and had experienced mostly smooth and speedy processes. Their encouragement and positive stories inspired us to dive right in and the mountains of paper work began. Eight months later came the day we were longing for. We finally received a referral for a beautiful 1 month infant named Dinkinesh. There was no doubt she was our daughter and we knew from that point that we would do whatever it took to ensure her safety and to get her home.

After lots of waiting, we finally received exciting news! We were told by our agency that we had gotten the approval we were waiting for, we just needed one more signature which was estimated to be happening very soon. A month at tops.

I just couldn’t take it anymore. Brian and I decided it would be best for us if left my job at the hospital that I had worked for 8 years and go be with our precious Dinkinesh. My brave mom and I boarded a plane Ethiopian bound to seek out my baby girl. We were able to rescue her from the overcrowded orphanage and care for her until we could all go home.

The first guesthouse we stayed for a month what basically a nightmare. It was dirty, the locks did not work, I was electrocuted several times when plugging in electronics, we were eaten alive by bed bugs and I vomited several times from the food. The staff was friendly enough and I had lost about 10 pounds, but I knew I had to get my mom and baby out of there ASAP. I was desperate and began searching my options when I came across the Ordinary Hero Guest House. I was skeptical of all of the wonderful reviews and the beautiful pictures, but I was hopeful that anything would be better than where we came from. We pulled up and I felt like we hit the jackpot.

The staff was super friendly and spoke English! It was very clean and beautiful, there was a huge breathtaking view of the city, the food was great and they even provided fresh fruit juice. Our room was the size of an apartment and even included a microwave and mini fridge. I was certain we were going to survive here. We felt safe at all times. Little did we know that this “short” trip to get Dinkinesh was going to turn into 6 LOOOONG months. We encountered problems and defeat left and right. I often wondered if I would ever get home and if I was going to lose my mind.

I kept gazing and my daughter and knew failure and leaving her was no option. I was not always strong and positive, but I had to try my best to make a conscious effort to start over daily. By choosing this option, God opened my eyes to so many truly awesome people, experiences and life lessons that I will take with me forever. These outings led us to feeding programs in Entoto Mountain and Korah Dump, celebrations and excursions with the kids at the Hope for the Hopeless, and visiting Talita orphanage. Talita Orphanage was probably the most impactful blessing I have ever experienced. I was able to be a part of OH’s first visit to the orphanage and saw it change from having no hope and barely surviving to fully funded and thriving. The staff, the visitors and the teams became our family away from home. Despite my fears about Dinki’s adoption I had so many loving people who would take time to encourage, cry, laugh hysterically and pray with me.

It was scary being a first time parent by myself, but the staff loved my daughter as their own and were always there to help. Had I not had OH as a rock and support system, I doubt I would have had the strength and endurance to keep going. Every time I would feel defeated, I would come “home” to OH’s love, support and encouragement which would always redirect me to fight with faith and to trust in God. Through the darkest time in my life, I was able to see past my own struggles to seek the underlying beauty and deep faith of the Ethiopian people and to experience their great love and culture. Although I had never felt worthy to change the world, God taught me that even I can be an Ordinary Hero.

P.S. Love truly does heal all wounds because we are currently in process of bringing home a little brother for Ellie from Ethiopia.” – Ashley Yoder


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