Erihale’s Story

Erihale and her father Atkilt recently asked to be taken off the receiving end of sponsorship because they are now self-sustainable.

Atkilt and his daughter were in Ordinary Hero’s sponsorship program for the last two years through their partner ministry, Endihnew Hope. This desperate father came to Endihnew Hope Charity Organization on Entoto two years ago to seek help when he and his wife could no longer provide for their family. Both of them were HIV+, and Erihale, then 4 years old, was needing to start school. Because of the love that Ben and Kathryn Walker felt in their hearts towards little Erihale upon seeing her photo and hearing their story, the Atkilt family became sponsored and their burdens were lifted. Below is a picture of our staff telling them they were sponsored.

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Then, disaster struck their family. Atkilt received a phone call when he was in the countryside that his wife had fallen ill. By the time he got back to Entoto Mountain in the capital city of Addis Ababa, his wife had already passed away and Atkilt not only lost his beloved wife but also their soon-to-be second child that she had been carrying for six months.

After some time, Atkilt earned a position working at a bank at the bottom of the mountain. His salary was still not sufficient enough for him to be free of sponsorship, so his support continued and his family’s basic needs were faithfully being met through the blessing of sponsorship. During his time at the bank, other co-workers and managers took notice of his incredible work ethic and determination to provide for him and his daughter.

Recently, Atkilt’s life changed when he received the opportunity to work at the airport. He sought out a position at the airport after the government created more jobs, and they gave priority to men that had fought for the previous government. Both Atkilt and his father fought under the late Prime Minister, so Atkilt was able to apply for the position. His hard work ethic and faith in God is what he believes landed him his newest career. He is now a Porter Passenger at the airport and when asked how he likes it, his face lit up and he stated how much he loves his new job.

The salary of his new job is still very low when taking in consideration the cost of house rent, school materials for Erihale, food, clothing, and other needs. However, he makes the majority of his money by receiving tips from the passengers he helps with their bags. This job does not allow him to live extravagantly, but he says it is enough for what he and his daughter need.

When asked why he decided to stop sponsorship for him and his daughter he said, “I am worried for others. When I see Entoto people and when I compare my life to them; I am good. Others on that mountain have children crying and hungry. But when I see myself, I have enough. All praises to God.” He hopes that in graduating from sponsorship that his spot will be given to another family that needs it more than him. He wants others to receive the blessing of sponsorship. Atkilt continued by saying that he is young and able to work and now that he has been given a wonderful opportunity, he wants to provide for himself and his beautiful daughter.

As for Erihale…she is now 8 years old and will be going into the 4th grade this month when school begins.

She is very proud of her dad and the strength he exemplifies. Erihale works hard in school and her favorite subject is English. During her free time, she loves to play Susie (a jump rope type game) with her friends. Thank you to the Walkers for stepping in during this family’s time of need, and thank you to all of our monthly sponsors that are supporting a family toward sustainability.

Korah Sponsorship Graduation

Written by Sponsorship Coordinator, Kelly Blevins: 

On Tuesday, August 26th, Ordinary Hero’s first group of Korah Income Generation families took center stage and accomplished a feat that many people in developing countries, as well as those in first world countries dream of doing: starting a business and keeping it profitable for over a year. We couldn’t think of a better way to honor these precious families for all of their hard work and determination than by throwing them and a few other income generation family hopefuls a graduation party that they would never forget.

I was leading our last summer team so we put the gears in motion by ordering 3 cakes, orange Mirinda soda, and gift bags for each of the 4 women who were graduating. I wish during the prep that I had prepared a little speech to give as well since Pastor Tesfaye, the ministry leader, asked me to give one, but one from the heart and off the cuff is generally better anyways. And this one was truly from the heart as one of the women graduating was a lady my family has been sponsoring for 3 years now.
Meseret Musa has got to be one of the strongest and most fiesty women I know, but this wasn’t always her story. When we first met her in 2013, she was shivering and cold, sitting underneath a blue metal roofed church, holding her then 3 year old son with her two older children beside of her. She looked timid, and scared. My husband took one look at her and her children and leaned over to me and whispered “them…let’s sponsor them. There is something in her eyes and I think that is who God has picked for us.” From that point on, they became our family. We loved her like she was our sister and her children were our own. We saw something in her and began praying for her future and her children’s. Little did we know that just 1 year after choosing them Meseret would become a strong, independent woman with a spunk for life! And we certainly never imagined that 2 years after starting sponsorship that she would be selected to draft a business plan, be given the capital to start it up, and then be given a year to make it profitable while sponsorship continued. Now here we are at the 3 year mark and she is a smart business-woman who is making it in this tough world by selling seasonal vegetables and home goods. I recently visited her business and was blown away at the line of people standing there waiting to purchase things. God is so so faithful!! And her story is much like the other 3 women’s who graduated on the same day. Zenebech, Abebe, and Workinish are all women who just needed someone to stand in the gap for them through sponsorship, pray for them, and then believe in them as they worked towards their goals.

Back to the party though… after I delivered my speech of how these women are ALL Ordinary Heroes and that even though sponsorship is ending that they will ALWAYS be part of the OH family, they were called up one by one to receive the gift we had for them…an Ordinary Hero T-Shirt, a letter from their sponsor, and a photo. Completely expecting them to take the bag and sit back down, I was shocked when they ALL put their shirts on right away as everyone clapped in unison.. The guests were genuinely thrilled for these sweet ladies and it continued on as they cut their cakes together and everyone enjoyed this sweet treat along with the soda we brought plus the coffee ceremony which the ministry prepared. There was so much joy in the room we were in that it radiated from everywhere!

As the party ended, the ladies met with me and Pastor Tesfaye for a little pep talk about what would be happening over the next few months as sponsorship phases out. They all are very ready and appeared excited. I just say watch out world – these ladies are fierce, they are smart, they love God, and they are on a mission to grow their businesses – and I couldn’t be any more proud of them! Betam gobez ladies, betam gobez!

How Sponsorship Changes the World

Carly Marin served with Ordinary Hero on the ground for one month in Ethiopia as a trip member and photographer. We are thankful to Carly for her contributions through photography and her beautiful expressions in her own words below about her time spent in Ethiopia…….

If you’re like me, you wish you could save the world.
If you could, you’d replace war with peace, put an end to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. You’d stop human trafficking, rid of mental illness, cure cancer and see to it that every child was safe and cared for. You’d put an end to poverty and world hunger while you were at it.
If that sounds like a tall order, it’s because it is.
Here’s the simple truth that’s sometimes hard to swallow:
It’s not my job to save the world.
I’m not God.
What then, am I responsible for? I believe, full heartedly, that the calling on my life, and on everyone else’s is, in its most basic form: to Love (John 13:34).
When you love someone, you give yourself to them. You have a relationship with them. It takes cultivation, time, prayer, resources and dedication.
I’ve been blessed to serve overseas as a missionary for a total of one year. I first spent 11 months in 11 countries on a mission trip called The World Race. Ten months after my return, I set out to go to Ethiopia for a month, where I teamed up with Ordinary Hero. It was there that I witnessed the incredible, life-changing difference it makes when time, effort and pursuit is poured into just one person—and the impact it has not only on that person for the rest of their lives, but on their community.
Meet Tesfaye
Tesfaye grew up in Korah, a community that sits amongst the city’s trash dump where its residents scrounge daily for their food. A majority of them have leprosy or HIV and many spend their days begging on the streets. Both of Tesfaye’s parents had leprosy. He remembers being five years old, himself and his siblings surrounded by the mountains of trash. They were in search of food for themselves and their parents, as they were unable to do so themselves due to their illness. Dumpsters would come in from restaurants and thousands of kids would flee toward it, fighting each other as they raced to find food amongst the waste. People were hurt all of the time in the process. One day a dumpster hit the side of Tesfaye’s mouth which resulted in a huge infection that proceeded to worsen and cause him immense pain over the course of six years. He would often ask God why his life and the lives of others around him were so terrible, until one day his life changed forever.
While in the dump one day, a teenager on a missionary trip found Tesfaye. When he saw the horrific condition of Tesfaye’s mouth infection, he was able to get him to a hospital for treatment. Beyond that, he sent emails requesting help from back home, and a neighbor of his from America decided to sponsor Tesfaye. They still keep in close contact to this day. Because of this sponsor, a stranger from across the world, Tesfaye was able to get an education and a degree. He’s now a pastor in Korah and heads a sponsorship program that helps provide families with food, basic medical care, and rent for a month at a time.
“My sponsor changed my life,” he said.
And now Tesfaye is helping change the lives of his community.
I had the pleasure of hearing Tesfaye tell his story a multiple of times to missionary teams that came to work with the ministry. The way he shares his testimony is so real and so genuine. His eyes alone speak volumes, and his words are coated with the pieces that his life has been dealt.
Some may think that sponsoring a child or family will have little to no impact on the world as a whole. But the truth is, if Tesfaye hadn’t been poured into and sought after by that one missionary decades ago, he wouldn’t be where he is today. Today the impact he provides for the entire community of Korah continues to multiply throughout the hundreds of families that live there. The moral of the story is: changing the world for one, in turn, changes the world for countless others.
While in Korah, I witnessed a row of women who stood in a line. They had deep lines drawn on their faces, marks of life and time passed. One by one they told us their name and why they so desperately needed a sponsor. Some were sick or had sick family members, unable to care for them. Others had children. They were begging us to help them find a sponsor to save their families.
By this point, I believe, Americans have become numb to an extent, and possibly repelled by those commercials with the sappy music and slow motion montages of African children with flies covering their faces. I know from experience how different it is to read stories like these or see the commercials about life oceans away and how distant they seem. I’m guilty of seeing them, thinking some sympathetic thought for a moment or two and then never thinking about it again.  I wish I could express the urgency and reality of the situation of these people here. I wish I could put you exactly in my place when I was with them. I hope you trust me when I say that these are real people, with families and hardships as real and tangible as yours, though of a different kind. I don’t say these things to guilt or obligate you into action, but please see them and remember them as more than a story on a blog.
I’ve been sponsoring a young girl named Carolyn for several years now. Carolyn lives in Uganda. We’ve never met but I receive updates and photos of her every so often. Throughout the years, I’ve loved Carolyn though she’s seemed like a stranger that lives oceans away. I’ve never met her in person. And for years, I’ve put my trust and funds into a separate organization, though reputable, that I don’t know on a personal level.  As I spent days with crowds of children and families awaiting the food only possible via sponsorship, I saw Carolyn in them. I saw her in the sweet faces that waited in line at the feeding program on Entoto Mountain. I saw her in the women that carry their monthly food supply wrapped tightly on their hunched backs as they walk it all back to their tin houses. I saw her in the joy and thankfulness that they had, and I witnessed the impact that sponsorship makes.
The motto for Ordinary Hero is “Change the World for One”. As simple as it sounds, it’s quite profound. And after spending a month with the “ones” whose worlds are being changed, my world was changed from being exposed to the impact of sponsorship.
I can’t save the world, but I can help change the world for one.
If you would like to change the world for one, please contact the Ordinary Hero Sponsorship Coordinator, Kelly Blevins at kblevins@ordinaryhero.org and visit our sponsorship page.

Sponsorship Is More Than Money. It’s Love.

Written by team member, Shannon Collins:

Awhile back Lincoln, Ordinary Hero’s field director, shared a story with me about a girl named Etenesh. The story took my breath away. It was harder to hear than any story I have ever heard. I spent days thinking about his words and this girl across the ocean. She needed a sponsor and I knew our family would help. Mark and I talked about her and decided that we would commit to sponsoring Etenesh. We have six children and already sponsor a family in Korah, but we just could not let this girl go.

In June, I traveled to Ethiopia with Ordinary Hero and met Etenesh for the first time. My children, Macall, Brynn and Hudson, all got the chance to meet her too. We spent special time with her. We were able to spend time with her amazing foster family. They have poured love into her and helped her heal. At first Etenesh was timid, but she soon opened up and danced with my girls as they sang Taylor Swift songs in the backseat of the car. Before long, she was sticking her tongue out for pictures and having so much fun.

 

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She would reach for our hand as the trust merged between us. She went to church with us. Etenesh had been hurt and spent many months recovering from surgeries and this was the first time to church in a long time.
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We spent an evening in her apartment being prayed over by a friend. It was a holy night and one that we will never forget. All of these experiences connected us. Saying good-bye to Etenesh that last day was difficult. She holds a piece of my heart. We know God has amazing plans for her life as He promises in Jeremiah 29:11. We will walk each step with her!
I urge others to sponsor a child or family. It is an amazing opportunity to open your heart, give hope to someone and be stretched in an incredible way. If you would like to sponsor a child through Ordinary Hero, you can email kblevins@ordinaryhero.org to do so.

A Trip To Ethiopia Through A Child’s Eyes

This guest blog was written by a very special 9 year old girl that got the chance to travel to Ethiopia on an Ordinary Hero trip with her momma, our Sponsorship Coordinator. We hope this inspires you to involve your children in the different works God is doing around the world, both locally and abroad!

This summer I went to Ethiopia with my mom and dad for two reasons. We went to adopt my baby brother, Bissy, and to do missionary work with Ordinary Hero. I had a fun time while I was there for a month, but there were also parts that made me sad.My favorite thing we did with our mission team was visiting people at their houses on Entoto Mountain and in Korah. I liked doing this because I got the chance to see how other families live. Their houses were very different than mine. First, they were made of mud and straw, or plastic instead of bricks. They also didn’t have lights or windows like mine does and it was very dark in the homes. A sad part though was that lots of people live in a very small house and most of them sleep on the ground. They didn’t even have a bed or mattress for everyone to sleep on.
Entoto Mountain is one place we visited a lot. It was really fun and I liked playing with all of the kids. I even got to see my friend Meki who stayed at my house for 2 months last winter. She came to America with my mommy for heart surgery. She is like a sister to me and I have missed her a lot. I also got to finally meet my brother who we have sponsored for two years. He gave me a big hug and was happy to meet me. He doesn’t have parents like I do so my parents are like his.

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I was really surprised at how tall Entoto Mountain is and that the kids have to walk up and down the mountain to go to school everyday. My mommy drives me and my brother to school and I am thankful.

When we were on Entoto, we played with the kids at the feeding program. Some of the games we played were hopscotch and I taught them how to play it the American way. We also did jump rope, gymnastics, and played soccer. The kids are really good at soccer. When it was time for the kids to eat I noticed they all went into the building and sat down. The food was passed out and they ate it really fast. We eat 3 meals every day and the kids there only get one meal every day if they don’t have a sponsor. But the kids there were all very happy and playful and having fun no matter what.
Another place I liked was Hope for the Hopeless. The girls there wanted to play with my hair and put it in braids. It was really pretty. I liked their room a lot because it was decorated in Bible verses and crafts they had made. It was lots of fun to hang out with them. They love taking pictures and laughing just like I do!

One thing that I learned is that the people I met seemed happy even though they had so little. My mom says its because they have Jesus and that is all anyone really needs. I think so too. My one wish for everyone in Ethiopia is to get the things they need to live and be healthy.

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#GivingTuesday Christmas in Ethiopia

Ethiopia celebrates their Christmas holiday on January 7th. It is typically a day filled with family, feasts, worship, and play. This year was a special year, as we got to bless families and children within our programs with a special holiday meal as a result of your gifts during our #GivingTuesday Campaign.
One of our ministry leaders shared, “One man named Tesfaye, who is HIV positive, said he had never seen anyone doing this for people (providing chicken on Christmas). He said that it had been a long time since he had had chicken for his children. He was on the verge of tears telling us.”
What could have been a Christmas marked with lack and burden, was instead a Christmas filled with blessing and joy. We want to thank everyone who gave this holiday season. Your money went further than you will ever know, feeding over 500 people on Christmas.
Enjoy these snapshots of Christmas in Ethiopia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pennsylvania 5K Race, Saving Lives

Leave it to the next generation to change the world! Below is the story of three high schoolers and their brilliant plan to support the medical needs of our sponsored families in Ethiopia through a school project.

Lack of resources for simple medical care prove to be life threatening for families living in third-world poverty. The money raised through this 5K will, without a doubt, save and improve countless lives as it is applied to the medical needs of our sponsored families.

“Our names are Lauren Gronbeck, Madison Graner, and Jenna Snavely, and we are seniors at Eden Christian Academy.

At Eden, every senior is required to do a “Senior Project.” These projects can include everything from broomball tournaments to shoe drives. Since we all run on Eden’s cross-country team, we thought a 5K would be the perfect project for us. At the onset, we had no idea of the incredible amount of work that goes into one of these races! However, we are determined to “go big or go home,” and the fact that you are reading this right now means that we are halfway to accomplishing our goal!

We decided to raise money for an organization called Ordinary Hero. Ordinary Hero is an advocacy organization that partners with impoverished communities, advocates for the vulnerable, and empowers ordinary people to change the life of a child.  Last year, Madison served on a mission trip with this organization and saw first-hand how Ordinary Hero is making a tangible difference in Ethiopia.

The branch of Ordinary Hero that we are supporting provides medical care to Ethiopians in their sponsorship programs. This is a big undertaking. You don’t have to be a superhero to be a hero in the life of a child!”

“… I Will Come To You” – Guest Blog

Guest post by Nakisha, Ethiopia Team Member

As I return to my lifestyle after spending seven days in Ethiopia, I jumped back into my routine a bit.  As I’m driving around in my oversized SUV heading to pay top dollar for some Espresso & baked goods, my thoughts travel back to the tiny village of Korah.  It is not tiny in population at all.  There are over 100,000 people living in this village.  I say tiny because these 100,000 people are living within a one and a half mile radius.  I am blessed to be living in the one of the richest counties in America, and yet I felt richer in Ethiopia.  How can this be you might ask?

While the villages, orphanages, and areas that I visited were filled with poverty and great physical need,  I found great joy and richness in the faith that is spilling over throughout this country.  I found inspiration and healing with the great love from my team members and from the beautiful people of Ethiopia.

My short term mission experience has yes, “opened my eyes” and yes, “they (the people of Ethiopia) blessed me more than I blessed them” and for this I am forever grateful.  I don’t want to stop there though.  I want to encapsulate these feelings and turn them into something bigger, something that has eternal value.  I want to be a blessing because I AM blessed.  I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a very tangible way.  If you haven’t been on a mission trip, I would highly encourage you to do so.  Just  “SIGN UP”.  It will be the best thing you could do for your life this year!

As I press forward with prayer and excitement in my heart, I will leave you with the picture and story of a beautiful woman I met in the village of Korah.

She sits gracefully while hanging her head in shame.  She humbled us with her story. She is a mother of two teen boys, living without a husband, in a mud shack.  Her body is overtaken with Leprosy.  Her fingers are gone.  Her toes and feet are gone.  When she slowly removed her shoes to show us what this treatable disease had done to her body, it took all the power within me to not burst into tears.  I felt her pain in this moment.  If she were disabled like this while living in America she would have a means through our government system to at least survive and possibly thrive.  There is no such system that exists for her in Ethiopia, and definitely not in Korah.  She is left to beg on the streets for her survival.  She slowly lifts her head garment to reveal an impression on her head where she was hit by a vehicle while trying to survive by begging on the street. She has constant migraines because of it.  She has no relief, no Advil, no Tylenol…nothing.  She can’t run to the local store for pain meds.  She can’t go to her medical doctor for help.  She has to suffer.  Unfortunately, she is not a minority in Korah. She is a part of the majority of women living in such inhumane circumstances.

I will not leave you…I will come to you John 14:18

Through OH and the team members of the January 2014 trip, she was able to see that God heard her prayers and fulfilled HIS promise to come to her.  In this moment, as we tangibly lived out the mission to be the hands and feet of Jesus, we stepped up to change the world for this one. I was able to see just how powerful and important missions can be for the masses but mostly for the one. We had a team member that advocated on her behalf and this beautiful woman now has a sponsor. I saw first hand that all the things that break my heart, break God’s heart as well. What a blessing to be able to help change the world for this beautiful woman. God knew exactly where she lived and what she needed and we just “happened” to step right into her path.

Are you confused about how you fit into God’s plan?  Are you unsure of what purpose you can serve to make a difference in the world? Sign up for a mission trip, and you will be so glad you did! Search yourself and be a part of “Changing the world for one”!

In Christ,

Kisha Guzman

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