When We Say “Your Gift Is Changing Lives”, Here’s What We Mean…

Medhanit Dole is a wife and mom to three. When we met her, she shared with heaviness that only two out of her three children lived with her.

Medhanit’s 8 year old son had left home due to poverty and was working as a house servant for another family. This usually includes cooking, cleaning, and looking after the homeowner’s younger children. She shared that she desperately wanted him to come back home but she didn’t know how to provide for all of her children.

The team listened and our hearts broke for Medhanit. None of us would ever have to make the kind of decision that she did, in hopes of her child surviving. Through tears, a trip member was stirred to sponsor Medhanit and her family, assuring her that she could bring her child back home and that they would have their basic needs, such as food, met.

These are the moments that our purpose becomes clear. “But if anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18

A couple of days later our team flew back to the States. It wasn’t long before we received a picture of Medhanit and her family, once standing heavy with sadness, now smiling ear to ear as her son had returned home. This is the kind of difference your gifts are making.

“Help Me Love My People”

The following story was written by trip member, Dana Valentine:

I returned home from my first trip to Ethiopia a completely different person than when I had landed in Addis Ababa nine days earlier. I had been hurt so much before leaving for that first trip in 2017 and honestly, hated people. However, God used the people of Ethiopia to show me that I didn’t hate people, in fact I truly love and care about people and was simply afraid of getting hurt. The Lord broke down every wall I had spent an entire lifetime building up.



The day before we were headed back home, I remember listening to Abenezer and Atikelt, founders of an OH Partner called Talita Rise Up, share about two little girls they had been working with. The things they shared and the realities that they faced shook me to my core. I remember seeing my daughter’s face and the emotions and pain that came over me were something I could not handle alone. I ended up in the bathroom sobbing, trying to sort through all those emotions. I distinctly remember sitting there hearing the Lord tell me, “These are my people. The love you have for your daughter is the same love I have for them, times a thousand. This is the same love I have for you. Help me love my people.”



In that moment I fully understood what it meant to love like God, to have a heart like His. He taught me this by breaking my heart for the things that break His. I had never been able to grasp the love of God until then. Until I wanted nothing more than to wrap my arms around those girls I had never met and just hold them and love them and make them feel safe. And then it all came together for me. That is what Abenezer, Atikelt and Talita Rise Up are doing. That is what every ministry Ordinary Hero partners with in Ethiopia is doing! They are loving these people fiercely and showing them the love of God day in and day out. I want nothing more than to continue to be a part of that and hopefully help Ordinary Hero grow so they can continue to reach more and more people to love and change lives!


The Privilege of Being Called “Sponsor Mom”

God started weaving Shimsiya and I’s story together in August of 2011. My husband and I had been traveling to Ethiopia for 2 years at this point and had made relationships with several people. Shimsiya was from a village called Shashamene. She was about 17 or 18 years old, blind and begging on the streets. Her mother and father had died and she was left in the care of an aunt. They were struggling to provide for their own children and because of Shimsiya’s disability she was not able to attend regular school.  Shane and I were called to sponsor Shimsiya to go to a boarding school that was willing to work with her, and I got to meet Shimsiya in April of 2012.

I quickly realized how smart she was, as she fired question after question at me, through an interpreter. I learned that she could see up until she developed an eye infection at the age of 6 or 7 that was not treated and lead to her blindness. She was a fighter though and didn’t let that stop her. She would ask anyone to read to her, explain things to her and educate her at every opportunity.

Fast forward 2 years, she was doing amazing at her classes at boarding school. Scoring close to or at the top of her class. She loved to sing in the church on campus.

She had made lots of friends who were eager to help her because she genuinely cares about others and has an amazing inner strength. She finished high school and passed her exams to go to University. This meant she would have to move to Addis, which she did. Since moving to Addis, she has finished her regular college courses and has started her Masters.

We are so proud of all her hard work. It is amazing to see what God has done with her life. She gives all the glory to Him.
Today, she is in her last year of her masters degree and plans to work in the Ethiopian government to help strengthen their culture. She is a beautiful, inspiring, young woman and has overcome so much. This past July I had the privilege of traveling with Ordinary Hero, where I was able to spend multiple days serving and just being with Shimshiya. At one point she said to me, “Thank you for loving me with a mother’s love.” I am so blessed to be Shimshiya’s “sponsor mom”.

If you are interested in sponsorship, email JEvans@ordinaryhero.org or visit our Sponsorship Page

Changed By God’s Love – Guest Blog

I was born with Dextrocardia and spent the first 18 months of my life in the hospital. During that time, I had two of four heart surgeries. Even after being discharged I was still on oxygen until four years of age, when I had my third heart surgery. Each year I grew stronger, and consistently exceeded the doctors’ expectations. God completed my physical miracle when I had my last heart surgery in the fifth grade!

I did well in high school, started college, moved to Georgia, and became a law enforcement officer. On the outside it seemed like I was accomplishing all my goals; and I was. However, I still knew deep inside that God wanted me to serve in a greater capacity. I just had no idea what that entailed or how to go about figuring it out.

It never crossed my mind that missions was the greater plan until I saw a video of my cousin, Callie, who had been traveling to Ethiopia with Ordinary Hero. In the video Callie told a family in need that she was going to sponsor them. Their level of gratitude had me in tears and I immediately decided I was going to Ethiopia. I began to trust God to move mountains for the trials to come, which included getting time off at work and raising the funds for the trip. After waiting two weeks, I finally got the approval for time off and it was officially going to happen.

I was very excited about my first missions trip and I thought I was prepared. I went to be a blessing, however, I soon realized that God was blessing me with even more of His love. The whole trip was very exciting, but my absolute favorite part of each day was sharing the love of God with everyone we encountered! As a result of my trip, I am now sponsoring two families, which helps supply them with basic necessities. These are things most of us here in the U.S. take for granted including: a 50-pound bag of teff (which is like our millet or quinoa), clean water, a tarp to cover their roof, medical treatment, and the funds to pay for their children to go to school. I now rest at night knowing I get to provide the necessities of life to these two beautiful families that were in need.



My Uncle Vasco was a missionary in Haiti and built many churches there. God called him to Heaven the day I left for Ethiopia, and though difficult to navigate the emotions during such a big trip, God used it to birth something new in me as I reflected on his life.

When I got back from Ethiopia, after my first night back at work, I knew my sole purpose in life was to become a missionary: to show the love of God to others and to share the story of Jesus with the world. I prayed and asked God to show me the path I needed to take. I took a leap of faith and turned in my resignation at the police department, while simultaneously applying for seminary school at Christ for the Nations in Texas to study Global Missions. God has blessed me with a job where I now have more family time, time to myself, and time with God. Since taking that leap of faith and trusting God with a brand new plan for my life, I have seen God moving mountains.

I have lived my entire life constantly reminded of Philippians 4:13 which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I am more than excited to return to Ethiopia in December 2018, and I look forward to what God has in store for our upcoming trip!

Klee Buddy

The following is a story written by our Founder, Kelly Putty:

Here is one of those crazy, coincidental, small world stories that I have to share.

My son, Asfaw, who is originally from Ethiopia, was recruited to join the i2i Soccer Academy in York, England. It is affiliated with York St. John University. This is his dream come true (that’s another story in itself). After completing the process, we were thrilled and started preparing to move him to England to start college this month. I saw on the Soccer Academy team page that another Ethiopian boy was also going to be joining the program. It thrilled me for my son to have an Ethiopian friend in the program with him. I looked him up on Facebook and saw that his mother and I had several friends in common. It appeared that this boy was also adopted, as he had a white family like my son. I reached out to MaryKay, the mother, and introduced myself and told her that my son was also Ethiopian and would be starting the program with her son. We immediately hit it off and started messaging back and forth, getting to know one another!

She shared her son, Tamirat’s adoption story with me and then asked me about my son, Asfaw’s story. Rather than go into the long story, I just sent her this link to Asfaw’s story. It was a video I put together showing how Asfaw and I met. It also documents the journey we went on to find his lost grandmother back in 2013 before he came home to us. She loved it and said she was going to show her family.

The next day she told me that she sent the video to her biological son so he could watch it.

As we chatted and shared stories, MaryKay sent me a picture of her son and his family.


I told her what a beautiful family her son has. What an adorable grandbaby! So cute!

We chatted more about Ethiopia and then she sent me a message with this picture and said: “Does she look familiar?”


I said, “Wow! The post office girl in Ethiopia! I loved her!”

So now I’m confused. How does this new friend of mine know the post office girl?

With my many travels to Ethiopia taking Ordinary Hero teams to serve, I used to always run into this young girl selling gum on the streets in an area of Ethiopia that we call the “post office”. I take my teams there to shop. She and I became friends and I would talk to her every time I would see her on the streets over the years. She was beautiful and always stood out to me because she was the only girl in that area among so many street boys trying to survive by selling things on the streets of Addis Ababa.


My heart went out to her so we would give her special notes and treats when we saw her.

MaryKay also travels to Ethiopia some so I thought how cool it was that she met this same young girl at some point also. I began telling her how I adored this sweet girl. I sent her some pictures of us together back in the day when we used to see her on the street. It was cool that we both knew the same post office girl we met on the street in Ethiopia.


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MaryKay said, “She has been asking about “Klee Buddy” ever since she came to America. You made a huge impact on her.”

I said, “What! She is in America? I always wondered what happened to her. How did she get to America? When? Where is she?” I had a million questions.

Then she said, “Meselu and Seth are coming to the U.K. with us! You can see her again! I am at their house now and she just smiled so big looking at your pictures.”

Me: (totally confused) “Wait, What?”

She said, “Did you catch that my son’s wife IS the post office girl? And….Umm, you are Klee Buddy. She is so excited to see you again!”

It all hit me at once! What?! Oh my dear Lord! I didn’t realize the girl in the picture with her son was HER…the post office girl!!

(reinsert picture she sent me earlier) ↓



MaryKay began to tell me that she sent her son, Seth, the story of Asfaw after I shared it with her. She wanted him to see who his brother, Tamirat, would be in England with while in the soccer program. His wife, Meselu, was sitting with him when he watched the video and she began pointing to the screen saying “Klee Buddy, Klee Buddy”. For years he has heard her talk about “Klee Buddy” but he never knew who she was talking about. He called his mom, MaryKay, and asked her what is the name of the woman in the video. She said, “Kelly Putty”. He said, “That is Klee Buddy! That is who Meselu has asked about all these years!”

Such a small world!!

Turns out that Meselu met Seth, MaryKay’s son, during the years he would travel and serve in Ethiopia. They fell in love and married in Ethiopia. Later he brought Meselu to the States.


They had a beautiful baby last year, making MaryKay and her hubby proud grandparents to a beautiful baby girl.



I told her that I couldn’t wait to see Meselu again. I wanted to hear their entire story. And to think that I would see her again in England of all places. Last time I saw her she was selling gum on the streets of Ethiopia! Crazy!

We traveled to England this month and our trip was amazing! We got our son moved into his new British culture, ready to start his new college/soccer life.





The first day we arrived in York we met MarkKay and her family for breakfast at our hotel. All of a sudden, in walked the post office girl! After all these years, I saw Meselu again! She wasn’t the young street girl I knew in Ethiopia. She is a beautiful young wife and mother, with an amazing story to tell.

I was humbled that she had such a fond memory of me from so long ago. I don’t feel that I did anything significant. I was just simply nice to her when she was in a time of need. I simply gave this beautiful young girl, whom I met on the streets of Ethiopia, some of my time, attention, and a note with candy attached to it. I bought some gum from her for more than what she was selling it for.  It really goes to show the impact you can make on someone just by being kind when they need it most. You never know what people are facing in their life.


She was such a sweet little girl doing her best to survive in a great big, harsh world she was living in at the time. Hers is a story of God’s amazing redemption. The fact that we were meeting again in England, with my son, who also originally came from the same streets of Ethiopia, is just one of those undeniable, full circle, God moments. To see how the Lord pulled these kids up, out of the mud and the mire of life, and set them into their destiny is a miracle to me! It is even beyond anything they, themselves, could ever ask or think.

It is my son’s dream come true to be professionally trained in England. And now to think that God brought him a friend from his birth country to walk alongside him in this journey. It’s a gift, especially knowing the similar journey they both have lived through to get there.



And then… To think that because of his new friend in the program I would meet Meselu again, not in Ethiopia, but in England, a country I had never been to before this trip. I could have never imagined any of this in a million years.

Sometimes miracles are hard to see. But sometimes they are written all over the lives of those we cross paths with on any given day if we take time to look a little deeper.

I’m so glad I was kind to a shy little girl years ago on the streets of Ethiopia who thought my name was Klee Buddy. I gave her a note that said “Jesus ♥’s U” and some treats that came from a blessing bag that someone else sent with our team. I simply became her friend. I don’t know what she had faced up to that point in her life. I don’t know what circumstances would cause a little girl to have to sell gum on the streets by herself at such a young age. But you never know when someone might need a little bit of hope to brighten their day through the smallest act of kindness. It could last them a lifetime.


It is my privilege to tell this story. Whose path will you cross today? What kind of impact can you make in their life through a small act of kindness?

You may just give them the hope they need that day…and you might just be someone they will never forget because of it.


Klee Buddy ♥

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”



3 Reasons Why Providing School Supplies Matters

Rain bouncing off of tin roofs on a brisk “winter” morning… amharic filling the streets… mothers preparing coffee for themselves and neighbors… children dressed in bright school uniforms heading out the door to grab the hand of a friend and skip to school. This will be the scene just a few weeks from now as children start another school year in Ethiopia.

While there are similarities between here and there that make the world feel a little smaller, there are differences as well. One of those differences is the ease at which many of us in the States are able to purchase all the needed school supplies for children starting school this fall. We simply make an afternoon of it… run to Target, fill up the cart, check out, and we’re set for the year. In Ethiopia, that’s often not the case. For those fighting daily to afford food and house rent, the extra expense of school supplies could be the sole reason a child doesn’t get to go to school. Below we’ve outlined ‘3 Reasons Why School Supplies Matter’ for those we serve in Ethiopia and how you can help:

1. Providing school supplies removes the burden from children and families who cannot afford them.

Government schooling in Ethiopia is free. However, in order to succeed in school, you must have the supplies needed to participate. School supplies include a school uniform, backpack, writing utensils, exercise books, workbooks and textbooks. Receiving an education is crucial for children to rise above poverty, and providing school supplies removes an obstacle they may face in achieving it.

2. Providing school supplies enhances learning.

When children have the supplies needed to take notes and do the required homework at home, they will be more engaged in class and more prepared for assignments.

3. Providing school supplies increases confidence in students.

Students that lack basic supplies will often feel inferior or “less than” their classmates. When a child does not have to worry about a lack of school supplies, it lays the groundwork for a confident student that can learn to his or her best ability.

School supplies may seem like simple items, but they truly make a difference in the life of a child. If you would like to purchase school supplies for a child that would not be able to afford them otherwise, follow this link to visit our Mission Market, and our field staff will purchase and distribute them before school starts. Tomorrow (8/10) is the last day to purchase! In the coming weeks we will post pictures across our social media to show everyone what YOU made possible!

Thank you for partnering with us in educating children and changing lives.

Post-Trip Thoughts from a University of Kentucky Student Athlete

As I sit on the plane heading back to Lexington, it’s really hard to find the words to even begin to describe my week in Ethiopia. I’m so overwhelmed with emotions & thoughts. Ethiopia, as well as many countries in that part of the world, gets a very bad reputation and is portrayed pretty poorly through the media… however, after just one week I learned that Ethiopians, while they have more physical struggles than we do in America, have a much more loving culture. Every person greeted us with hugs and kisses and smiles that spread from ear to ear.

The amount of spirituality Ethiopians have is indescribable. It’s incredible to witness these people living in such poverty and devastation, but still praising God for what they do have. Just being around that environment truly strengthened my relationship with God. I can truly say I have never felt as much love and spirituality before Ethiopia.

I will physically be back in Lexington shortly, but my heart will remain in Ethiopia. I cannot express how blessed I feel to be able to experience such a trip. My life has been changed from just one week in such an amazing place. God is so good & so alive in the hearts of Ethiopians & I am forever touched by the people I met.

A big thank you goes out to UK Athletics… Without you all, this trip would not be possible. Also, Jason Schlafer, one of our leaders of the trip – this experience wouldn’t have been the same without you. Thank you for the opportunity. To the 7 other girls that joined me on the trip – I love you all and I wouldn’t want to experience this trip with anyone else. To Ethiopia, I know in my heart that I will travel back to you, so, it’s not a “goodbye” but a “see you later.”


The Power of One – Guest Blog By Mallory Scott

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!

Meet the Team Monday – Adanu, Desta, and Zewedenesh

Below are three out of five OH Guest House staff that clean the Guest House each and every day. Our Guest House gets constant remarks about the cleanliness and comfort of their stay, and it’s largely due to the hard work of these women. They put their heart into the work, and we are so thankful for their commitment to our guests over the years. Read the interviews below to get to know them more.


How did you get connected to OH?

I knew about OH when I used to work at a different guest house that OH stayed at. I use to be amazed at what they did and when the OH Guest House was opened me and my friends joined the team.

Why do you love helping people?

I love helping people because I want to make God happy with my deeds. I am happy with what I do and I want the same kind of happiness for other people as well.

Why do you love Ethiopia?

I love my country; I love how we celebrate Christmas, because Christmas is the day Christ was born. The other thing I love is our coffee.



How did you get connected to Ordinary Hero?

I met them at a Guest House that I used to work at. I was very happy about what OH was doing for our community. It was a big blessing for me to be one of the very few that got the opportunity to join the OH Life Center when it was opened.

Why do you love helping others?

Helping the elderly and helping the sick makes me happy. I feel like I am obeying God.

What do you love about Ethiopia?

I love my country so much. I love how we celebrate holidays, and I love epiphany holiday.


How did you get connected to Ordinary Hero?

I met OH at a Guest House I used to work at. I was amazed at how many miles people and teams travel to come here and help us. I was even more amazed when I became part of the OH Life Center & Guest House I was able to clearly see what they do.

Why do you love helping people?

Helping someone in need gives a great spiritual satisfaction. God is happy when we help those that need our help, and I always want to make God happy.

What do you love about Ethiopia?

I love how we celebrate holidays, the way we respect each other, our social relationships …. There are so many things I love about Ethiopia.

A New Era for Orphan Care

In recent months, Ethiopia has banned international adoption. For those that would like to learn more about the recent ban, click here to learn more. Below is a blog written by Founder, Kelly Putty, in response to the needs she saw at orphanages during her most recent trip, as a result of the adoption ban:

Since returning from Ethiopia, I’ve felt an enormous burden to raise my voice about what I saw and experienced within orphanages effected by the recent ban. The orphanage social workers now carry the largest burden of all, as they continue to receive babies without the capacity to care for them. I witnessed nannies caring for a room full of babies to the best of their ability, but simply put, they need help. Not only are they caring for the physical needs of the children daily, they carry the emotional weight of not knowing what their future will hold. They are faithful, hardworking heroes.

For many orphanages, they received monetary support from adoption agencies as the children were being placed up for adoption. They made sure that the children were cared for properly. Now that the government has stopped adoptions, these agencies have stopped their support, even as the orphanages continue to fill up with children. With their main source of support diminished, these orphanages are in need of new avenues of support.


While visiting two orphanages, Talita Rise Up and Kidane Miheret, that we consistently visit each Ordinary Hero trip, I asked the directors about their greatest needs. They both shared that their greatest need at this time is diapers and formula. Both orphanages have rooms full of babies that require food and diapers throughout the day.

Sister Lutgarta and sister Camilla have both served the children at Kidane Miheret orphanage for over 40 years. They have given their lives to the welfare of these children. They want more than anything for the children to be placed in families. Watching the nannies feed and diaper the babies one after another, as if they were their own, was very humbling to experience.



Our dear friends Abenezer and Atkilt started the Talita Rise Up orphanage in the countryside of Ethiopia. The police bring babies that have been abandoned, usually left in a forest or at a hospital. With the help of the local church, they have successfully and repeatedly placed these children in a foster care program in their local village. This program allows children to grow up knowing the love of a family.



We are launching a campaign to help these friends of ours. Most of us cannot imagine running out of diapers or formula needed for our children. By sharing the resources we have available to us, we’re lightening their load while also providing these children with the care they need to grow.

Our goal is to give 100 baby bundles, which will provide formula, diapers, and wipes to the two orphanages we support. Would you join us?

Click here to purchase a baby bundle.


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