Tag Archives: Team Ethiopia 2012

Update from the Field: Team Ethiopia

28 Jul

It’s 11 pm here in Ethiopia and our team has, for the most part, finally settled down from an exciting and exhausting day at our ministry site.  For the past two days we have been working (and by ‘working’ I mean laughing, singing, and playing with beautiful Ethiopian children) at the Hope for the Hopeless orphanage and drop-in center.  This ministry model is set up to rescue street children (which number around 5 million in Ethiopia alone) and seeks to provide them with food, shelter, education, and the hope that can only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Unlike our first ministry site, the children at these two sites are mostly unable to be adopted due to licensing restrictions by the Ethiopian government. Instead, given the limited resources this organization receives from sponsors and small church donations, HFTH literally trains up the next generation of Christian Ethiopian leaders by supporting these street children through the rehabilitation of the drop-in center, through the education and care provided by the orphanage site, and finally through foster care programs as well as vocational training classes and university.

These children…..stole our hearts.  After two days of attempting to be the arms of Christ to these children, we found that they taught us more about our Savior and his love than many of us had discovered in a lifetime.

Tomorrow we will attend church for the first time at the new World Orphans church partner, Keraneyo Bethel Church.  Please pray for us as we meet the members and children of this ministry as we will be visiting and planning activities with them later in the week.

Praise God that all our team is in great health and spirits and we thank Him for all that he is doing in our hearts!

More updates to come! Thank you all for your prayers and support.

All for Him,

Blake Baxter
Team Ethiopia 2012 Leader

It’s Hard to Think of a Crime More Hideous

21 Jul

Blog post by Gemma W., Team Ethiopia 2012

Criminal, sexual exploitation of children – also called Human Trafficking – is the newest, most profuse and fasting growing form of slavery that the nations of this world have had to combat in nearly a decade.

Despite the numbers, which appear to be growing, Michelle Banchelet, the head of UN Women, says, “it’s difficult to think of a crime more hideous and shocking than human trafficking. Yet, it is one of the fastest growing and lucrative crimes.” So it’s not surprising that human trafficking is estimated to be a $32 billion industry.

This is not just an issue in the third world countries. This monstrosity takes place in industrialized countries, as well. Trafficking is now affecting 161 countries worldwide. They’ve estimated somewhere between 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year. Of those victims, roughly 80 percent are female, and 50 percent are children.

It’s the runaways and other at-risk youth that are the prime targets for pimps and traffickers. They’ve mastered the art of manipulation and deception in order to exploit these victims in the commercial sex industry. It could be as simple as a “job offer” to be a nanny for a wealthy family overseas. Once the victim is reeled in, threats and violence will be enough to keep her there in most cases. After all, the life expectancy of a child prostitute is only 7 years.

Gemma resides in Canada and will be serving with Journey117 this month on Team Ethiopia. 

Just as My Children…

19 Jul

Blog post by Gemma C., Team Ethiopia 2012

Over the years I have read papers and books, watched movies and documentaries, sat in lectures, and heard many news reports telling of the many terrible things that people all over the world have to endure, day after day. There is poverty, lack of access to clean water, child labor, child soldiering, HIV/AIDS, so many factors contributing to the orphan crisis. Each of these is so difficult to think about, and so hard to understand why so many have to deal with it, but the one which inevitably hits me the most is child prostitution and child sex-trafficking. I took a little wander around the Web this evening, and 15 minutes into the stories and statistics of children abducted, put on menus and sold for sex, and I am just sick again at the realization of what goes on, and the prevalence of it.

This blog post is supposed to share statistics, quotes, stories and information to open your eyes to the reality of child sex-trafficking and exploitation. I have been staring at this screen for an hour now, my mind is reeling, and I don’t even know where to start. The statistics are easy to find, websites www.love146.org, www.sctnow.org and www.stopdemand.org are just a few out there. The sad reality is that twice while I was researching, a link for a webpage or a video was wrong, and the default pages that showed up were advertisements for prostitution and pornography. How twisted is that? Continue reading

The Rampage of Disease

18 Jul

Blog post by Saundra P., Team Ethiopia 2012

An orphan is described as a vulnerable child under age 18 who has lost one or both parents. What would cause a child to lose their parents you ask? One orphan causing issue is diseases that lead to death like HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and water borne diseases. Many of these diseases are preventable.

HIV/AIDS is a worldwide epidemic, in which the largest cases, around 22.9 million, occur in Sub-Sahara Africa. AIDS is spread through child abduction, prostitution, and slavery. Orphans are especially vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS because they lack the basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. A desperate, abandoned child may turn to prostitution to provide for themselves. A poor, widowed mother may sell her child into slavery to provide for her other children.

Malaria is a disease we do not hear much about in the United States, largely because it was eliminated between 1947 and 1951. In developing countries, Malaria is a prevalent disease that puts 3.3 billion people at risk, which is about half the world’s population. About 90% of deaths caused by malaria occur in Africa among children who are less than five years of age.

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Nadeem & Manan

17 Jul

Blog post by Naomi P., Team Ethiopia 2012

For this blog post, Namoi chose to create a PDF with graphics, stories, and information about Child Labor. Click the link to open the PDF: child_labor

Child Laborer

Naomi resides in Canada and will be serving with Journey117 this month on Team Ethiopia.

In the Shoes of a Child Soldier

14 Jul

Blog post by Caroline M., Team Ethiopia 2012

Pause for a minute.  Put yourself in the shoes of a child soldier.

You are ten years old. An army comes to your home, puts a gun in your hands and tells you to shoot your family.  If you don’t do it, they will shoot you. After being forced to kill the ones you love, you leave with them to become apart of their army. Day in and day out you are forced to kill and rape innocent people only to hold on to your own life.  You participate in combat, lay mines and explosives, spy, act as decoys and are exposed to sexual slavery. You witness violent deaths and mutilations. You are brainwashed to do nothing but kill and destroy. This is how approximately 300,000 child soldiers live everyday.

Child soldiers are boys and girls who fight in adult wars, missing out on the safe childhood that many of us take for granted.  In 2004, as much as 100,000 children were actively involved in armed conflict in Africa.  These soldiers can be as young as seven.  Below are some alarming statistics.

80% of children aged 8 to 13 in Sierre Leone had suffered the death of a close family member.

74% saw somebody being killed or injured with machetes.

68% saw somebody being burned to death or tortured.

10% of girls have been gang raped.

66% have been in a situation where they expected to die.

Witnessing your parents death, being separated from your family and being forced to participate in violent acts can leave a child scarred.  This may lead to physical and psychological problems such as: general poor health, physical abuse or deprivation, drug addiction, sexual abuse, exploitation and unwanted pregnancy, serious war injuries and mental and emotional trauma.

You can’t pretend this doesn’t exist.  So what are you gonna do?  Spread the word.  Everyone needs to know about this horrible reality.

Caroline resides in Pennsylvania and will be serving with Journey117 this month on Team Ethiopia.  

Something to Believe In

5 Jul

Blog post Alyssa G., Team Ethiopia 2012

I joined the Ethiopia team because I love people and knowing that there are kids that have no one to take care of them, love them, or protect them breaks my heart. As Christians, it’s our job to protect and fight for those who can not do it for themselves. I watched a documentary that had a large group of people who were kidnapping children from their homes and would kill the families, leaving the children as orphans. They would use the children for whatever they needed. They used them to make money through human trafficking and made them children soldiers. At one point in the documentary, they were interviewing a boy and he said that he would rather die than keep living. He said there was nothing left to live for and he had lost all hope in a better life. So, it is my heart to go and try to show the kids the love that they are longing for and restore the hope that has been robed from them and give them something to believe in again.

Alyssa resides in Texas and will be serving with Journey117 in July on Team Ethiopia. 

The Only Reason is Jesus

2 Jul

Blog post by 14 year-old Naomi P., Team Ethiopia 2012

So the big question of the day, “What has happened in your life that has lead you to your heart for orphans?” Well sit down my dears, I will get you some tea and tell you all about it, jk.

I was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1997 (thrilling facts I know). My parents are Scott and Janet and they are amazing (I was not paid to say that). They have been a huge support and have always done what is best for me, not only their words but also their action always showed me and taught me love.

When I was six or seven, I used to come downstairs to watch our one channel TV (I was really lucky, I got to watch TV, crazy). There was a couple of times when the World Vision show came on. I used to watch it, then cry and cry. I decided that I wanted to help those kids and their families. I pulled my neighbor into it and for a year we saved our money, and told people about what we were doing (and got their money.) Together we raised 300 and something dollars! (We even did a mobile lemonade stand! We were committed!) We gave the money to an organization our friends started when they adopted two Ethiopian boys. The organization is called Love Africa. You can look it up, 6 year old me is still on their website!

Going to Ethiopia and working there, I was convinced that, Ethiopia is where I wanted to be and where God wanted me to be. So, that was great, but how was I going to get there? So I thought about it and prayed about it for two and a half years.  Finally I told my parents and their friends; that was WAY out of my comfort zone, but I did it! So that really triggered something in our community and in our lives. There were several other people in our community who also had dreams about going to Africa or living in Africa or just about Africa in general, but it was never the right time. They were not totally sure what they were supposed to do. When I told them about how I wanted to go to Ethiopia and how I wanted them to take me, (just a small favor) it seemed to them like conformation.

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I Wish I Could Do More

29 Jun

Blog post by Cayley E., Team Ethiopia 2012

I’ve had a heart for children for as long I can remember. Being blessed to grow up in a strong Christian household, I’ve had numerous opportunities to serve and share the love of Christ with children. It was always a joy to work with kids, but my heart was never truly broken for the fatherless until I saw the reality of the situation while working a summer camp.

The camp was set up by a local organization that teams up with Child Protective Services to offer a summer camp experience for the children in the foster care system.  The children that attend are broken, beaten down, and desperate for love.  All campers are under the age of eleven, but the vast majority have experienced more pain in their lives than most of us ever will. It’s heartbreaking to know that I can’t fix their problems. I’m not there to be the solution. If I could, I would gladly open my home to them all! Unfortunately, I can’t. I’m there simply to share the love of Christ and to create positive memories for the children. But, oh how I wish I could do more!

So that is what brings me to Journey117. Several years before attending summer camp, the Lord stirred my heart for Africa. At the time, I didn’t really understand (and I still don’t completely) but He has faithfully opened doors to teach me and prepare my heart for this very trip. I was forever changed by building relationships with the orphans at that summer camp. The Lord gave me a tender heart, which was eager to speak up for those voices that too often go unheard. So why me? Well, why not?

Cayley resides in Texas and will be serving with Journey117 in July on Team Ethiopia.

What Will You Do?

28 Jun

Blog post by Saundra P., Team Ethiopia 2012

Many years ago I sponsored a dear, orphaned child named Adeline who lived in an orphanage in Haiti. Adeline was 15 years old. But she looked to be much younger as she was so small. As a result of the sponsorship, Adeline received food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and went to school. I exchanged letters often with Adeline and I was also allowed to send her a small gift package. One day I received a photo in the mail of Adeline pictured with the gift of a Barbie, shoes, and hygiene items. Adeline had the biggest grin on her face. It touched me to see how much God loved her. That was my first experience with an orphaned child.

Adeline from Haiti

“Happy is the generous man, the one who feeds the poor.” – Proverbs 22:9  

Since that sponsorship, I always wanted to go to Haiti and I never went until last year with Journey 117 Team Haiti. My second experience with orphans was while serving in Haiti with children and families who were living in extreme poverty and in such suffering that no person should ever have to witness. Starving children. Lack of clean drinking water. Poor living conditions. Sickness and death from easily prevented diseases. The lack of concern by a government that does not care about the wellbeing of its citizens. In spite of the terrible conditions in Haiti, orphans flourished when placed in loving homes or orphanages. The children had access to food, clothing, shelter, medical care and received a Christian education. Since returning from Haiti, not a day goes by that I don’t remember the smiles and laughter of those happy kids. The kids that are our future; a future made possible because God opened the heart of someone for the fatherless and the widow. Continue reading