Ethiopian Christmas at Hannah’s Hope

By Julie Salwasser, AGCI International Program Development.

Team 11
The Team Gathers for Dinner and Sharing Stories After Our Day at Hannah’s Hope

Yesterday, Saturday, January 7, was my first Ethiopian Christmas and it was so special!

Of course it is a little strange to hear “The Little Drummer Boy” and other familiar songs as well as see the huge Christmas tree here at the Riviera Hotel two weeks after our Christmas in the U.S., but what fun it is to be here for this holiday. 

We began our day celebrating with the children at Hannah’s Hope Ethiopia. Almaz had prepared us that in Ethiopia the celebration of Christmas is not nearly as decorated, sparkly or filled with gifts as in the U.S. Instead the focus is around family and FOOD!

Our feast included the traditional bread, injera, cake, and lamb (and oh my goodness we saw the evidence all over Addis of many lambs that gave their lives for the sake of celebration-yuck!) There were other menu items for those Ferengis on our team that were a little more hesitant to partake in the traditional fare.

It was so wonderful to be with the kids! Hannah’s Hope is always an incredibly peaceful place for me. This was the case in our first Hannah’s Hope home and where we are now, too.  This comforting feeling is not about the location of Hannah’s Hope but rather it is completely due to the love that is shared in this home—both from the special mothers and staff to the children as well the love the kids give in return. It is so fun to see everyone interact.

When I am at Hannah’s Hope, my favorite thing is to just sit down, let the kids climb on me, play with my hair, play hand clap games or just sit in my lap. It is wonderful to just be there and give them every bit of my attention.

The kids love to draw! Even the little ones were grabbing markers and coloring their page. It was also a great time for the team to brush up on some Amharic and learn the words for puppy, bird, smile, and more.

Of course we played football (soccer) with the older kids. This was an especially good time for the men in our group. We also made sure everyone had an opportunity to cuddle and rock the sweet babies.

Spending time with the children at Hannah’s Hope is always a fresh reminder of why we do the work we do.  We are here for them and anything we can do to give them a hand, encourage them and love on them is good!

Yep, Saturday was a good day. I am sure we will head back to Hannah’s Hope later in the week but there could not have been a better start to this week!

Prayer requests for this week:

  • For the 17 members of the team; that we will have the strength, stamina, and good health to accomplish our projects
  • Sunday – For Wyrea Daycare Center – this team’s 2008 Orphan Care Project – to make repairs and support the staff
  • Monday – For the 1,300+ children at Hedase Elementary School – that our efforts will show them God’s love
  • Tuesday – For all the dear children adopted from Ethiopia and their forever families
  • Wednesday – For Hedase Elementary School – that the eight new toilets we are building will resolve the sanitation problems and improve the students’ general health
  • 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 spirit 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!