by Joy Casey
Joy was in Ethiopia in October/November…
We bumped along over the field and parked under the Acacia tree next to the abandoned railroad tracks. I love rural Africa. The air is clean, the sun is warm, and the cacophony of birdsong lifts my spirit.
Our little group enjoyed walking the short distance to the church compound in the village of T’ede where YWAM has a small sponsorship and feeding program for some of the poorest families. Pastor Zerihun greeted us at the gate; it is always so good to see him and he is the only person in the village (at least that I have met) who speaks English.
Waiting for us were ten eager children and their mothers. I have grown to love these dusty, ragged, bright-eyed children, and I have also become friends with their mothers. I am learning more of their stories, and my admiration for their perseverance and strength in the face of extreme adversity knows no bounds.
Ten months previously I had the supreme pleasure of distributing goats to these ten families that had been purchased by individuals from our gift catalog.
This time we were there with gifts of clothing and a small toy for the children given to them by their sponsors.
As I stepped into the compound, I noticed that one of the widows had a baby on her back and I vaguely wondered whose child it was.
After greeting the children, I turned to their mothers (in some cases, grandmothers), and one of the mothers came to me wreathed in smiles, talking and gesticulating enthusiastically. I could tell she was happy about something and walked her over to Pastor Zerihun so he could tell me what her good news was. Pastor Zerihun was talking with one of our guests but distractedly translated what this good woman was telling me, and I was stunned.
She told me she had the good fortune to birth triplets! “Three kids?” I asked holding up three fingers making sure I heard right. The baby on her back suddenly took on new meaning. Nodding and smiling she held up three fingers, and then indicated that not only did she have triplets, but she had had two sets of triplets! Incredulous, I held up six fingers and then pointed to the baby, and grinning ear to ear, she vigorously nodded. I was dismayed, confused, and even a bit angry.
I finally got Pastor Zerihun’s full attention and faced him square on and sternly asked, “Are you telling me that this widow woman has had triplets… twice?”
A hearty laugh greeted my inquiry and he said, “No, no! The goat you gave her last year has had two sets of triplets!” Ohhhhh! Relief flooded over me and I began to laugh and hug her unreservedly, joining her enthusiasm over her good fortune.
The goat given to this good woman has provided income for her to the point that she can set herself up in a small business, and her hut now has a sturdy door on it to keep snakes at bay! Her only child (thankfully, only one!) can now go to school with a packed lunch. The baby on her back? Turned out to be a neighbor’s who she was watching. Whew!
Through the generosity of so many people, the poor in Ethiopia are being given a hand-up. Pastor Zerihun was given a donkey, and you would have thought we delivered an SUV! We constantly bring soccer balls purchased from our gift catalog to villages like this one because the youth go through many balls on the rocky fields where they play. Bio sand filters have given twenty-six families clean water and better health.
I cannot express adequately what these gifts mean to a family. Inflation is skyrocketing in Ethiopia, especially the cost of food, so that the poor are simply unable to purchase it. Now more than ever, these seemingly small gifts can be the barrier between destitution (with accompanying disease) and having something to eat.
I hope you will visit our website and find a way to give a gift that is truly life-giving!