I wish I could somehow expand my vocabulary to adequately paint a picture of what government orphanages here are like. I don't want to put down or be negative about the people who run them because I don't know enough about the system, country, or character of those in charge to be able to make those assumptions. I have heard some stories of things that go on, but have no concrete evidence, so I won't repeat them.
What I can do is tell you a little about what I witnessed, and then explain why Bring Love In is so special.
When the director of the orphanage (I'm not going to name the orphanage publicly) took our family on the tour of the facility, she began in the older boys' room. There were bunk beds lining the walls in a long, narrow room. Many beds had 2 boys in them. We were there during "quiet time", so the kids were mandated to be in their beds. A majority of the boys looked like they were sick (colds, etc.), and I could easily spot that the orphanage held HIV positive children that were not receiving medication, because they were covered in the warts that are typical in people who have had the virus for a while and are not on medication. Alan and I shook their hands and said hello (Alan walked the whole length of the room and made sure he touched each child and smiled at them). We saw the girls room, where most of the girls were asleep. When we moved on to the toddler and then baby rooms, the smell just kept getting worse and worse. By the time we were in the youngest baby room, we had to breathe through our mouths because of the overpowering smell of feces and urine. Many of the babies were laying in their waste, with it coming out of their diapers. Some cribs had 2-3 babies in them. I could tell that some of the babies were rarely picked up and many that should have been able by their age to roll over, pick their heads up, or sit up, could not. They didn't have developed muscle strength. I had tears in my eyes as I walked through and I was trying to hold it together in front of my kids and the director. There just weren't enough nannies to go around. The capacity of that particular orphanage is supposed to be capped at 150, but they run well over 200 at any given time.
While we were there, we delivered a very large duffel bag of supplies, from baby wipes to Tylenol, shoes, gloves, and many other much needed items. We also brought two large bags of cloth diapers and covers, formula, and the Little Dresses for Africa that the ladies at my church, EPC, sewed for the girls. To ALL of you that donated money for formula and items to deliver to orphanages here, THANK YOU. I wish I could show you where your items are going, but they strictly prohibit pictures at the orphanages. To all the ladies at EPC who lovingly cut and stitched all those beautiful dresses, please know how badly I wanted to be able to show you pictures of the girls that will be wearing the dresses. I apologize to you that I can't provide that. But, at the same time, rest assured that the dresses are going to be gracing the bodies of little girls who desperately need them, and you are giving them a chance to feel beautiful in a very depressing place. THANK YOU!!
This brings me to Bring Love In. Bring Love In will be pulling children from these government orphanages. The children that are chosen to be able to participate in their program will be getting a chance at a LIFE. A chance at a FAMILY. A chance to be picked up and loved and rocked and fed and bathed and schooled. A chance for a FUTURE that they otherwise would not get. Do you know what happens to you when you age out of an orphanage here as a very young teen? You go to the street. There's no program. There's no college help. No government coming to the rescue. Nothing. There's begging and stealing and sleeping on the cement or dirt with bugs crawling on you. I'm not exaggerating. Go to Levi's blog on the Bring Love In website and let him describe for you how it feels to sleep on the street. And if you're a girl? Don't ask. You don't want to know. Yet you NEED TO KNOW. Because it's real and it happens every second of every day.
So click on Bring Love In and read about their mission and vision and plan. Read how they are going to change lives here and build up leaders who can give back to their country and have pride to call themselves Ethiopians. Leaders who will hear about Jesus every day and know how important families are. http://bringlove.in/
This is the entrance to Bring Love In's office:
The room for their secretaries:
Part of the storage room that will field donations that will be given to the homes that Natalie and I will be organizing over the next few weeks:
This is the "transition room", where children can spend the first few nights they arrive while they are being put into a family.
Part of the nurses room:
Alan and I and Jessie and Levi outside the front door of the office:
We were also invited to see the very first family house. This is the front of the house:
And the very first child placed in a family here, Setota. Isn't she beautiful?
We had to say goodbye to Levi and Jessie this past week as they headed to the States to go on their tour. Here are the kids with their new friends. Please click on the link on the blog and if they're coming close to you, meet them. LISTEN. Then HELP.
"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder. 20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ?" (James 2:14-20)