A Beautiful Mess

AGCI’s VP of International Programs, Kiersten Luginbill, recently visited our Hannah’s Hope partner home in Gambella, Ethiopia! Follow her journey to learn more about AGCI’s work in Ethiopia. 

This past week I traveled back to Gambella Ethiopia where I visited our Hannah’s Hope partner home and continued the training with our AGCI Ethiopia staff that we began there in March. It’s hard to describe Gambella. The heat, the Baro river, a mash up of tribes and languages. It feels very much like stepping into another world.

As is often the case, my time in Gambella went differently than expected. Since starting work in Gambella, I’ve witnessed amazing changes as well as daunting challenges. It can be a complicated region to work in partly due to crippling poverty, tribal dissent and broken families created by both poverty and dissent. Blend in multiple different languages, power outages and financial desperation and well…it can be tough place to build hope. Every relationship in Gambella is shaped by the challenges the region faces and to be honest the needs can feel overwhelming. Yet, developing relationships is how we really create lasting change in a community. Our model of care and family planning is not surface work. It is deep, paradigm changing work and it takes time and patience. We are working hard to understand and know the many cultures represented in Gambella and work towards sustainable solutions for families in the area.

All that said, perhaps because of its challenges, the successes in Gambella are so sweet! I wish I could fully express the feeling of joy I had walking into our Hannah’s Hope partner home on Tuesday and seeing the home clean, the medicine organized, children in diapers, clean sheets on the beds, shoes stacked neatly outside the door and a hand washing station. These may seem like simple observations, but to know the home has adopted the training we have done these past 2 months on hygiene is the most incredible feeling. These small changes are making a world of difference for the kids! Even better, however, is watching how the special mothers continue to hold each other, and the entire orphanage staff, accountable to these new standards. The standards are becoming their own and that is the deeper change we strive for.

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Over the past three months our AGCI team has spent many hours talking with the nannies particularly about the important role they play in the lives of each child in care. They are the deciding factor, the life changing factor that allows an orphanage to no longer be an orphanage, but a home. This trip, the change was palpable, they are no longer nannies…they are truly becoming special mothers. There is much training to be done, but to see these women adopting this special role as their own is a beautiful journey to watch unfold.

With more children entering care, we are preparing to add to this amazing team of women. Thank you to all of those who continue to support these positions and the life changing work these women do each day!