On Tuesday, we returned to Brothers and Sisters home in Gambella to finish the flooring project. I’m happy to report we were able to have enough materials and time to touch up pretty much every room in the home with the new and improved flooring. Also, while in Gambella we were made aware of a few additional needs at the home we felt AGCI could be of assistance with due to our support from many of you who have a particular heart and passionate for the Gambella region. With those additional funds we were able to purchase the materials needed to complete a fence around the property at brothers and sisters for the safety of the kids as well as to replace several broken window panes at the home including the one that accesses the play room area. It was good to be able to begin or complete some of these needs while I was there, even though it was such a short time. Along with these additional projects, the mission team here also purchased soccer balls and volleyballs for the children at Brothers and Sisters as well as paint for their staff to complete the walls and ceilings in the rooms yet to be touched up in the home. On a personal note, it has been really amazing to see and be a part of so many positive changes to the home and facility at Brothers and Sisters over these past three months. Thank you to all the teams and individuals who have helped to bring about that change!!
Later on Tuesday we also had the privilege of meeting and having fellowship with the congregation at Bethel church. It was great to see the pastor there again and many familiar faces from my past trip to Gambella. Their fence is alive and well and new gates have been added by the congregation since I left. The whole church body was happy to hear an update on the AGCI team who had come in May as well as to meet some new faces. They blessed us with a small service that afternoon which was so rich and beautiful. I wish everyone could hear the beautiful sounds of the drums and voices as they sang praise songs. It’s incredible.
On Wednesday we said farewell to Gambella and started the trek back to Addis Ababa. It was a full day of flying, but we made it safe and sound. On Thursday I arrived at the guest house to find the team already in full activity mode, they had developed a plan to throw a pizza party with ice cream for all of the kids and staff at Hannah’s Hope that night. Once the vision formed, they were off grocery shopping, chopping, baking, frying okra (a shout out to our team members from Texas) and a whole gamut of other activities to prepare. It was a blast to watch the excitement of the team as they prepared and cooked the meal especially with limited resources. In fact, even an injera oven was used to help cook the pizza that night. Talk about ingenuity! It was also super fun to see the kids at Hannah’s Hope be totally baffled by pizza and also be ice cream. It was fun to watch their faces as they took it all in. The meal was definitely a strange change of pace from their typical meal at Hannah’s Hope. Most of the children at Hannah’s Hope came from very remote areas of the country where pizza would have never been a part of their daily diet so it was definitely an adventure.
Friday, we visited the Lebu Youth Community center near Hannah’s Hope and met with some of the staff there who shared their stories and needs with us for the center. Again, it was really nice for me to see some familiar faces there and to see them light up when they recognized I had returned. I love being able to show our commitment as an organization in partnering with them to support the service they provide to so children and families in the community. Later in the day, we traveled to the Addis Ababa Youth Rehabilitation Center where the team handed out brand new shoes as well as bananas and candy to every youth at the center. The significance of giving shoes to these kids is huge given that many of them come to the center with nothing, but the clothes on their back. Most of the kids there have been living life on the streets. To have new shoes means they can leave the center with something that protects their feet and also gives them a level of respect they have maybe never had before since shoes are often equated with socio-economic class here. Above all though I think I was most touched with how the team passed out the items, making sure every youth was looked at directly face to face, blessed in Amharic and knew they were special. It was awesome to convey to these kids that someone out there really cares about them and their future.
Well, I think that catches us up for now. The team is heading to cultural dinner tonight and then looking forward to another week of serving the children and people of Ethiopia next week. Stay tuned!