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Entries in Ethiopia (29)

Hiwot's Story: Letters Bring Hope

She must have known exactly where it was.

That’s all our staff could think when young Hiwot ran back out of her house, clutching a letter from her sponsor. The home Hiwot shared with her mother and sister was tiny, but her quick return made them realize – she knew exactly where her sponsor’s letters were.

What’s more, the letter was two years old. It was a prayer card from her sponsors, and the words it contained were powerful, speaking right to her heart.

Our staff had asked Hiwot if she could share a letter from her sponsor because the workers at Hiwot’s project had shared about Hiwot’s transformation since being sponsored. As she walked with the staff toward her house, they learned more about her.

Hiwot’s name is quite common for little girls in Ethiopia. In Amharic, Hiwot means LIFE.

But life as Hiwot knew it was tremendously difficult.

Her father had left the family years earlier, forcing Hiwot’s mother to work odd jobs in her struggle to provide for Hiwot and her sister. Still, they had very little hope for the future.

When Hiwot’s mother learned that One Child Matters was opening a child development center in their community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capitol, she ran to get her daughters registered.

“That was the day that everything changed in my life,” Hiwot says.

In the years since, Hiwot’s life has improved dramatically, but there were times of difficulty – something Hiwot’s sponsors noticed in her letters to them. Dean and his wife Maria remember receiving a letter from Hiwot where she seemed troubled, and they wanted to write in response to that: 

It was quite a while ago, but Maria remembers that what she wrote was influenced by a letter Hiwot had written to us. She wanted to encourage Hiwot because she sensed that Hiwot needed it. The Holy Spirit prompted her to write what she did.

Thus it made sense that Hiwot quickly ran inside her house and came back with that letter her sponsors had so carefully written to speak to her heart two years earlier:

Dear Hiwot,

We pray for you and your family that our Lord will keep you safe, healthy, and provide for all of your needs. Pray to our Lord for everything so that He will know your heart, and His sweet Spirit will live inside you. Remember that Jesus loved each of us so much that He gave His life for us so that we who believe in Him can live life through Him. He knows your heart, Hiwot, so always speak to Him through prayer. We hope your studies are going well, and thank you always for your prayers.

In God’s love, Your Sponsors

Later this week we’ll dive into why we think the letter Hiwot’s sponsor family wrote her is so powerful – as well as their advice for writing your child and our best tips for making these prayer postcards count.

In the meantime, in case you haven't seen it, here's more of Hiwot's story.

To read more tips for writing your sponsored child, click here!

What Sponsorship Does Today... And Tomorrow

Does sponsorship make a difference?

You may wonder about that when you pray over the photo of a child you've put on your fridge, or when you get communications from us in the mail. This commitment I've made, does it matter?

A few months ago, two staff from One Child Matters headquarters in Colorado Springs traveled through Ethiopia and Kenya on their way to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

As always, God directed their steps, bringing two children to the projects just so they could meet. Our friends had other meetings on their schedule, but when they met these two, it was obvious that God had something to say to us through them.

First: Antony. He attends a One Child Matters project in Kenya which helps him succeed in the nearby government school. Antony was eager to tell us all about his sponsors, even begging us to go to his house so he could show us their picture.

Antony's home is a simple mud structure, and when our friends stepped inside the dark hut, they were astonished to see a shelf built into the mud wall. Antony's mother had ensured her son would have a place to study by candelight. It is that little mud shelf you see at the beginning of this video:

Antony's love for his sponsor is so clear, so profound. His prayers are sincere, and their photo cherished.

We wanted to share Antony's story with you because sometimes it's hard to see the difference you are making on this side of eternity. But oh, just imagine the reunion in heaven when Antony will finally meet those who invested in him!

We pray that as you seek ways to make a difference in the life a child today, you recognize that sponsoring a child is effective and important. Which is why we've been talking so much about Hiwot, a young woman in Ethiopia who was sponsored from age 8 until she graduated.

Hiwot's gratitude was so evident, we asked her to share her story with all of our sponsors. Today, Hiwot has a bright future, and her heart for God continues to grow. Take a few moments and learn more about how sponsorship continues to shape Hiwot's life.

We love how sponsorship reflects the love of God into the heart of a child in need. And we are so grateful for your partnership in transforming the lives of children all over the world. Thank you for standing up, for proving that one child matters to you!

Hiwot's Story: What Sponsorship Means

With your help, One Child Matters ministers to 40,000 children in 16 countries. Each year, equipped by your encouragement and prayers, more than one thousand children graduate from our programs and move on to what God has for them. For some it's university, while others find work in their community or a nearby city. But each child has had the opportunity to learn and grow in a place that emphasizes their worth in God's eyes and ours. Each child graduates knowing that he or she matters.

That's why we love what Hiwot is about to share with you. Hiwot attended one of our projects in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She met some of our staff this summer and was quick to share her heartfelt thanks with them. And we are so glad we can share it with you, too! Hiwot wanted every sponsor to understand the difference their sponsorship makes in the life a child. Watch her story below:

We hope you treasure Hiwot's encouragement as much as we have. May you see the same fruit in the life of your sponsored child!

What Is Ramadan?

Muslims around the world are preparing to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan. If you sponsor a child with a Muslim background, what does that mean for daily life?

Click to read more ...

A Strong Faith Foundation

One of our programs in Zeway, Ethiopia. Yesterday we started our work day by praying for our country for National Day of Prayer, when we proudly joined countless others as they lifted up prayers for our nation.

We are so fortunate to live in a country where we have the freedom to gather and pray – in so many areas of the world, this would put you in great risk for persecution. And yet some of the countries we serve have a robust faith tradition – few as powerful as Ethiopia.

You can trace Christianity all the way back to Acts 8, when in response to tremendous persecution, believers scattered but “preached the word wherever they went” (Acts 8:4).

One of the scattered was Philip, a man known as the Evangelist who had been chosen among the seven to care for the poor in the Christian community in Acts 6. After he preached in Samaria and challenged Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8, Philip is told by an angel of the Lord to head south on the desert road, where he encounters an Ethiopian eunuch returning from the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel.

If you haven’t read the story of Philip and the Ethiopian, we encourage you to do so. Philip is there because he was obedient to God’s nudges, including the message to approach the Ethiopian’s chariot. This eunuch was a man of influence, in charge of the Ethiopian queen’s treasury, yet he humbly asks Philip for guidance in the scriptures and comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

What happens next? The chariot comes to a stream (a rare thing in a desert place, how our Lord provides!) and the Ethiopian asks to be baptized. As they come out of the water, Philip is swept away by the Spirit of the Lord “and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way, rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). Ethiopian tradition maintains that the eunuch came home and evangelized his people.

At the time of Acts 8, both the Samaritans and an Ethiopian would have been considered far from God, but God made a way for them, even in the desert!

Many church historians consider the strength of Christianity in Ethiopia to be one of the most heroic success stories in our faith. One more recent story involves the birth of a church in the 1930s and 40s during a period of persecution that hearkens back to what the early church experienced in Acts. When Mussolini’s army captured Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, he expelled all the missionaries from the country in 1937, leaving the future of many ministries and churches in question.

One church in particular had only 150 members at that point, yet under Italian persecution the church began to thrive. In 1941, a missionary returned and was amazed to discover that the small church had grown into a movement of 10,000 believers. Today, that church, Kale Heywet (Word of Life) stands at more than 4 million believers – the largest evangelical church in Ethiopia today.

We praise God for the foundation He laid for His work in Ethiopia! We partner with churches and schools to serve well over 3,000 children in Ethiopia. God continues to make a way for His people, and we are humbled to play a small part in it! Thank you for responding to God's nudges and choosing to make a difference in the life of a child!

Taste Of Sponsorship: Ethiopia

It’s time to reveal the answer to our little recipe teaser from Monday... and trust us, you want to try this dish even if you don’t sponsor a child from Ethiopia! (The link to the entire recipe is at the end of this post.)

Meghan (who shared her love of Ethiopian coffee with us yesterday) stumbled across this recipe and inspired a whole new series! We always want to know what the children in our programs experience, and food is one of the fastest ways to come to appreciate a culture.

Are you ready for a new taste of sponsorship? We’ll post new recipes from each country as we’re able! First up, of course, is Ethiopia.

Meghan intrepidly cooked this entire recipe in the office kitchen, inciting a mild fervor when the amazing aromas drifted down the hallway – so be aware that this tasty blend of spices won’t just stay in the kitchen!

The recipe is fairly easy once you track down the essential spices. Spices like berbere traditionally used in Ethiopian cooking are available from and Teff flour is available from and

Meghan bought the teff flour online from Amazon. She found the berbere locally at a store called Savory Spice Shop, so be sure to look around – you might find it in more places than you think!

One other note: our office kitchen has the most basic tools and utensils, so you should be able to duplicate this in your own kitchen quite easily.

The stew is a traditional meal made in one pot. Because it is based around meat, the families One Child Matters serves probably reserve it for very special occasions.

Meghan prepped the ingredients the night before (the injera must soak and ferment overnight anyway) and brought them into the office. The cooking took just over an hour, and the first few injera attempts were rather rough! Turning down the heat can help. Although making injera is similar to making pancakes, you don't flip injera. Meghan found that covering the injera with a lid and letting it cook on one side was most effective.

Within an hour, we were sitting down to a feast! Traditionally, Ethiopians use injera like silverware, pinching off pieces and grabbing hunks of stew with it. Injera really helps you wipe your plate clean, and with this meal, you'll find yourself doing just that!

You can download the recipe as a pdf here. It includes the stew and injera recipe!
Because it's two pages printed, we recommend downloading it.

If you decide to try this Taste of Sponsorship recipe, let us know how it went! We'd love to hear what you think of Ethiopia's cuisine!


Buzzworthy Traditions: Ethiopia

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of traveling on a One Child Matters’ mission trip to Ethiopia and meeting my sponsored child, Ruth. It was a trip full of amazing experiences. Aside from meeting Ruth, the numerous coffee ceremonies were my favorite experience. I left the trip addicted to
coffee – Ethiopian coffee anyways.

Coffee is an incredibly important part of Ethiopian culture and life. Some of the best coffee in the world comes from Ethiopia, and it is their largest export. Ethiopians are very proud of the claim that coffee was discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder (who noticed that his goats were quite lively after eating the fruit off a particular bush) and they treat everything about coffee with great reverence.

A coffee ceremony is a sign of friendship and respect and is practically guaranteed for visitors, especially foreign visitors. Every project we visited would perform a ceremony for us, and as we sometimes visited multiple projects a day, we were honored with quite a few ceremonies and enjoyed a lot of coffee!

A coffee ceremony is a rather long affair and can last several hours. A female host, generally wearing the traditional white Ethiopian dress, starts the ceremony by lighting incense which will burn through the whole ceremony. A charcoal stove and a tray of small ceramic cups are set on a bed of grasses that symbolize abundance. The host then sits on a small footstool and begins roasting the coffee beans on a large, flat pan over the charcoal stove. Once the beans have darkened and started to release their aromatic oils, the host then grinds the beans with a mortar and pestle. The ground coffee is then poured into a traditional pot, called a jebena, filled with water, and placed on the charcoal stove.

A unique step of the process is that when the coffee begins to boil, it is poured into another container until it has cooled and then poured back into the jebena. This process is repeated twice so that the coffee has come to a boil three times before it is served into the handle-less cups for the guests. Depending on the region, the coffee can be served with either sugar or some salt. Popcorn is also generally served alongside the coffee.

I cannot begin to tell you how amazing the coffee tastes. I am generally not a coffee drinker, but I could not get enough of it. I went from never drinking coffee to needing to get a double shot of espresso somewhere in a European airport on the journey home to avoid a serious caffeine withdrawal!

When I left Ethiopia, I did so with at least 10 pounds of coffee crammed into my backpack and the best intentions of replicating the delicious coffee I had fallen in love with. I immediately bought a mortar and pestle and a French press when I returned and hoped they would give me similar results. I was sadly disappointed. I still haven’t been able to duplicate their coffee or find anything that compares, but then again I haven’t bought my own jebena or taken the hours to roast, grind, and boil the coffee multiple times. The more I reminisce, however, the more I’m tempted to take those steps…

Meghan manages One Child Matters’ communications. In addition to Ethiopia, she’s visited our projects in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. This is one of the few pictures she has with Ruth where they are not covered in face paint.

Trip Reflections: Ethiopia

These are only two of the amazing events God arranged on the recent trip to Ethiopia. We trust you will be as blessed by reading them as we were!

On my recent trip to Ethiopia, Africa, a dream came true. I got to meet Winta, the little 5 year old girl I sponsor through One Child Matters. This was the biggest thing I was looking forward to on the trip. I knew I would instantly be drawn to her, but I didn’t realize the instant love that would overtake both of us!

I got to introduce myself to her and her Aunt. I gave her a present with all kinds of toys, play dough, hair things, etc. As we were opening it, I was told Winta means “Gift”!

I talked with her about school, her church, her family and what she likes to do. She asked me about my family and my job, too. She seemed shy at first and the translator told me she wanted to look at my face but was too shy to do so. I told her she could stare at me and it would be ok!

I got to color with her, dance, sing and play with her for a couple hours before they had to leave. We took lots of pictures and gave lots of hugs, then turned to go. Her Aunt came back and through a translator said, “I have to tell you something before we go.” She said, “Winta is an only child and her Mom is a single Mom. She was a prostitute to take care of Winta. Because you sponsor Winta, her Mom no longer lives that lifestyle.”

That’s where I lost it.

I just cried and hugged her and said, “It’s because of Jesus!” I had faith that each month when I send money that I’m helping a child halfway around the world. On this trip and through that conversation, I got a heart-knowledge that God is actively working through the little that I give every month. It’s changing this child’s present, future and changing her family, too!

We never know the full extent of what God will do when we’re willing. All the long flights, few hours of sleep, and culture shock was worth it. Seeing firsthand what God is doing through Mission of Mercy, and choosing to do through me, is still blessing me today.

Another trip participant had a powerful confirmation of her own impact in Ethiopia:

I have come away from Africa with a concrete sense of self. Although I went to serve – and I did – I came away with so much more than that. I wasn't sure what I could offer any of those children, but she chose me.

Out of 28 people on my team, she chose me and ran up and held my hand. Only later did I find out that she was the child I had sponsored before I went on the trip! What a gift that we bonded before we had a reason to.

Once we did learn our connection, I didn't have much to say, but neither did she. She was so much like me – not much for communication or expressing our feelings. All I had to do was hold her hand every day. That was what I knew how to do.

I didn’t think that I would have changed her life one bit, but when I saw those goodbye tears I realized that I didn’t have to be anybody but me. Me, with my oh-so-controlled and shelled emotions, touched her life. She felt my heart even though I refuse to wear it on my sleeve. And as she hid her tears I knew that feeling.

That seven year old little girl taught me it is ok to be who I am. That I am enough just the way I am. She still saw the light I thought you couldn't see and it made a difference. My God knew she was for me and I for her. I miss her face and that smile that I got to watch come out slowly. She broke down my walls. She showed me so much more than I can even express. Missing Ethiopia.

Country Prayer Requests

Each week, we set aside time as a staff to pray through prayer requests we’ve received from you and our partners overseas. It is so important to support those who work directly with your sponsored child.

Here are some of the requests we've been praying for this week and into the next:

ETHIOPIA: The cost of living in Ethiopia continues to rise, putting strain on the parents of children registered in our programs as well as project staff. Our Ethiopian staff has such a huge heart for the children, but they are burdened by their own needs as well. Please pray with us for provision and that our staff can find favor at home, in the marketplace, and in their communities to help them make the most of their resources.

Also, a mission trip with radio listeners from The House FM in Oklahoma and WCLN in North Carolina will leave for Ethiopia on September 13. They will help build a restroom and shower facility at one of the projects to address pressing public sanitation and health issues. They’re also going to do Vacation Bible School with the kids. It’s going to be a powerful trip, please pray with us that God will do much in them and through them.

KENYA: A Women’s Circle of Caring team is also leaving on September 13th for their final trip to the Emarti Maasai people. They have many projects and programs for the children and their mothers. A special message will be given – please pray for open ears and hearts.

CAMBODIA: A serious and mysterious illness is striking children in Cambodia; several children have died but the cause of this sickness has yet to be determined. We praise God that none of the children in our programs have fallen ill, but we must continue to pray protection over them and for the staff as they stay vigilant. Please also pray that the government and health care workers can find the cause of this to address it before more children are sickened or lost to this disease. 

HAITI: Our staff asks for prayers for the parents to stay involved in the development of their children. As parents come to understand the benefit and value of the program, the children attend more consistently.

ZIMBABWE: So many communities need help. Please pray for discernment for the country staff and that God continues to raise up sponsors who can help them minister in powerful ways.

HONDURAS: Gangs are very active in several of the communities we serve. Please pray for the safety of our staff and that children in our programs find sanctuary at the centers. Siblings and parents can also use prayer that they stay out of reach of the gangs and provide positive, stable role models for the kids.

Thank you, as always, for joining us in prayer for the sake of the kids.


What Our Staff Can Do

The care your sponsored child receives can impact so many areas of life. Dr. Beyda traveled to Ethiopia to look at the Medical Mercy's Health Care Worker program and what it means for children there:

Fruits of our labour. Plant a seed. Teach them to fish. All are familiar phrases that address doing something for someone in order to make them self sufficient and show their success, to give them an opportunity to succeed, and to put in place a plan that will grow. It is what we strive to do for those who are less fortunate than most, and who are willing, dedicated, motivated, and driven to make the best of what they have been given.

The Healthcare Worker (HCW) program I developed 7 years ago, is that seed, that teaching to "fish," that opportunity, to give those lay persons who are responsible for the welfare of our Mission of Mercy children, the knowledge and the tools to ensure that our children are healthy.

The intent of the HCW program is to ensure sustainability of healthcare needs of the children after our medical teams leave. The HCW becomes the one source for healthcare needs in their projects. There are now trained HCWs in Cambodia, Swaziland, Ethiopia and Kenya.

The question is, has the HCW program been successful? That's why I'm here in Ethiopia, to see if it has made a difference. I spent several hours the first day reviewing their knowledge base, given them some advanced lectures and quizzing them. No need for worries there. They were sharp, inquisitive, and motivated. I then went to the projects and did a medical standards assessment on the healthcare of the children. Here is a summary:

We have 11 projects in Ethiopia with about 3000 children that we care for. There are 9 HCWs here, having completed their training just over a year ago when we came here to do clinics. They worked with us for 5 days and were seeing patients on their own most of the time, making the right diagnosis and starting the right treatment.

In one year since they have been on their own, here's what I've found:

  1. Referrals to outside clinics are down by 55%
  2. Healthcare costs for the projects are also down by 50%
  3. The HCW is seeing on average 10 children a month
  4. 32 children were identified with potentially life threatening illness, treated and never hospitalized
  5. Children with chronic illness such as TB, malnutrition and anemia have been identified and are followed on a regular schedule of physical exams and treatment by the HCW
  6. Medical records for all children are now in the child's respective folder

Outcome measures that are positive, fruitful and successful. There is more that I've found in addition to what I've listed above, but I hope you see the effect of this HCW program. The One Child Matters kids are well cared for.

I leave for Kenya tomorrow to do the same there, except this time, I'll have my medical team with me. 18 US team members. We will have 5 days of clinics and the HCWs will work with us. Fruits of our labour. Planting a seed. Teaching them to fish. The children are better for it.

In all things give thanks,


A Surprising Christmas Tradition

Do you attend a special Christmas concert or play each year? Christmas provides a unique opportunity for our programs in countries where the story of Jesus' birth is not as well known. Read on for insight into these special Christmas performances and what they mean in different countries.

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A Special Christmas Menu

Your sponsored child may live halfway around the world, but you have more in common than you think in terms of Christmas traditions... especially food! We even included some recipes if you'd like to try something different this year!

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Christmas Wishes In Every Language

In the coming weeks you should receive a Christmas card from your sponsored child, and on it will be Christmas wishes in their own hand. We love this time of year because you can see the anticipation of Christmas in the children's heartfelt wishes. 

But very few of the children in our programs speak English -- so what do their Christmas wishes look like?

In most of the countries in which we work, the language spoken does not use a Latin or Roman alphabet such as what we use in English or what many of the countries in Africa or Central America use above. 

Yet the result is just as beautiful. Several countries, such as the Philippines and India, have regions that use different languages or dialects, which are represented below.

And then there's the Middle East, where Christ and the Christmas season was born. What wonderful wishes!

It's a bit early to wish you a Merry Christmas, but we can't help getting in the spirit! 

How Do You Write To A Muslim Child?

One sponsor shares how committing to help a young Muslim girl changed the way she wrote letters... click here to read more.

Drought and Famine In Kenya and Ethiopia

No doubt you have seen the disturbing images and stories: the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years is devastating areas in northeast Kenya, southeast Ethiopia, and Somalia. (Click here for a map.)

Thousands of Somali refugees are fleeing the drought-ravaged region and humanitarian organizations are struggling to meet the desperate need posed by chronic malnutrition, especially in children.

Although our projects in Kenya and Ethiopia are some distance from the hardest-hit areas in Somalia, the entire region is struggling as the price of basic food stuffs rises dramatically.

Many of the communities we serve depend on herding animals for their income and survival; as the drought worsens, it is more difficult for flocks to find proper pasture. Some communities in northern Kenya have seen an increase in dangerous and violent raids to steal livestock.

Mission of Mercy has been monitoring the the prolonged drought in several regions in Kenya. Thanks to the resources available in our Children's Crisis Fund, we have provided over
1 million protein-enriched rice meals to ensure the children in our programs could eat. We are also providing clean sources of water.

Together with several international partners, we are coordinating the delivery of more food packets. Our staff in Kenya and Ethiopia continue to check the health of the children, who are often the most vulnerable in times of great need. Our health care workers are trained to evaluate the nutrition needs of the children, utilizing Medical Mercy assessment tools and a “rapid rescue” program for those at great risk.

Please join us in prayer for the people in this region:

  • That humanitarian organizations already on the ground will have the means and supplies to respond.
  • That the needed materials, medicine, and food would flow unhindered from the organizations, through the governments and customs, and into the hands of the people who need it most.
  • That the donation of additional food packets for Mission of Mercy projects would go quickly, and that our partner organizations would be blessed.
  • That the global Church would respond to these desperate situations.
  • That the communities we serve are protected in terms of the health of the families as well as safety from raiding livestock thieves.

If you are interested in helping us meet the needs in this increasingly desperate region, please consider giving to our Children’s Crisis Fund, which provides for the acute health needs of children as well as nutritional aids like the rice packs our children call Manna.

Tour Of Homes: Africa

Homes in Sub-Saharan Africa reflect an ingenuity fitting of their sparse environment. Could you build a home out of mud, sticks, and tin?

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Celebrating Easter

How does your sponsored child celebrate Easter? Some of the traditions are more familiar than you'd think...

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Sponsorship's Benefits Are Visible

What difference does sponsorship make? Dr. Beyda shares another post about Medical Mercy's time in the Weliso area, about the visible difference between sponsored children and others int he community, and how a family welcomed them into their home.

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Medical Mercy: The Pictures Say It All

Another short update from Dr. Beyda as the Medical Mercy team wraps up its clinics in Ethiopia. Just how good are the newly trained Health Care Workers?

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A Clinic In Photos

Medical Mercy continues to serve the children in several of our Ethiopia projects through their clinics this week.

For a glimpse of a clinic, here are some images from their time in the community of Zeway.

With several clinics in Weliso and Addis Ababa ahead of them, the team continues to ask for prayer. Thank you for joining us in lifting them up to our God who cares so deeply for His children!