Creating “Renewal” at Hedase Elementary School

By Julie Salwasser and Hollen Frazier.

“Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord” Psalm 127:3

Children at Hedase 26
Boys showing Hollen around the classroom building

We made a preliminary visit to Hedase Elementary School on Sunday to see how much of the prep work had already been completed by the Ethiopian contractor team we are working with all week. We found that some of the land had been cleared and other elements had been started but there is still so much to be done; and most of it will be by hand.

While we were there, we were given a grand tour of the school by some amazing boys. They showed us all around the school and field. Sadly, there is not much more than just the one 5-story classroom building. Hedase, which means “renewal” in Amharic, seems so appropriately named. We really feel that we are here at this time to help renew and add to this school in hopes of a brighter future for all the children. The plan includes restrooms, a library and sport courts – basketball, volleyball and of course soccer.

The Land Prepared at Hedase
Land ready for basketball courts, volleyball courts and a soccer field

An especially rewarding part of our first visit was that we were able to share it with an adoptive family that is also in Ethiopia this week. Of course, adoption is a big part of what AGCI does, but our Orphan care work in Ethiopia is huge, too!  In Ethiopia we complete about 160 adoptions each year but we impact more than 4,750 children, widows, and vulnerable families through our Orphan Care work. Rarely are we able to show this other part of our ministry first-hand to adoptive families. When we can it is a real privilege.

On Monday, several of us worked on the library and bathrooms while the majority of the team focused on the basketball and volleyball courts. This entailed shoveling, leveling and more shoveling. Wow —it was so hard but so worth it!

The best part of our work on Monday was how the kids were all helping us. At times, it was a little chaotic between not having enough tools and their eagerness to be of help. We had to pause and remind ourselves that this is all for their benefit. Although things were a tad slower and maybe a little less efficient it was just awesome to see their joy at what they are helping to create. It was a great opportunity for each of them to be on a team and learn a little about the value of working together. All of the children will have so much more pride in their school for having been a part of the work.

The highlight of our day came as we were finishing up. We were invited into a crowded classroom for a spontaneous session of cultural dancing by the students and then lessons for all of us. The kids were so gracious and understanding with us Americans; we are not nearly as flexible and rhythmic as they would probably like! It was the perfect end to another wonderful day in Ethiopia.

Prayer requests for this week:

  • Wednesday – For the 1,300+ children at Hedase Elementary School – that the eight new toilets we are building will resolve the sanitation problems and improve the general health of the students
  • Thursday – For the children at the Youth Rehabilitation Center in Addis – the 145 kids, ages 8-15, who have been placed there for street crimes – that our visit will remind them that there are people who care about them
  • Friday – For the new library and sports fields at Hedase Elementary – that the children will grow in mind, body and the Spirit of God because of our efforts
  • Saturday – For safe travel home for the whole team
Thank you so much for your support and prayers for what we are doing here!  I just know this will be an amazing week and that God will bless this work!