by Joy Casey
I hope everyone working in another country has co-workers as superb as those NewLife Ethiopia has. Abebe has worked alongside me since I ventured to Ethiopia sixteen years ago. He has been a colleague and mentor patiently broadening my understanding of Ethiopian culture. I have watched his kids grow up, go to college, get married and have children.
As our tent stakes broadened, his wife Abonesh joined our team. Her vast experience as an accountant for large non-profits was just what was needed to establish good accounting principles for all aspects of ministry. I count them as dear friends and their home is my home when I am in Ethiopia; I relish time spent with their family.
They not only expertly administrate all aspects of NewLife Ethiopia in-country, they share the vision and heart of what we do … they are the heartbeat! Perhaps you will glimpse a peek of their character and involvement in the following story.
Lensa is a cheerful girl enjoying her first year of kindergarten at our Mana Gammachuu (Joyful Place) school. She is 5 years old and one of 13 children. She lives in a mud hut with her father, mother, her father’s second wife and her many brothers and sisters. They are very poor and eat only once a day, but Lensa is healthy and happy. Her circumstances are not grossly different from many in her village.
For several years Abebe and Abonesh have contributed to our school in a Mus!im village by sponsoring a student, and Lensa was assigned to them this year. They read her biography and, of course, immediately grasped her living conditions. And as they always do, they began praying for the child they sponsor.
When they facilitated the purchase of clothes for twins attending the school, it gave them the idea to do the same for Lensa. New clothes, and especially new shoes, are a rarity in this village. Children generally have one thing to wear until they outgrow it and then a hand-me-down item replaces it. Clothes are washed sparingly because water is hard to come by.
A week ago, Abonesh and Abebe traveled to our program sites south of their home in Addis Ababa and stopped by to meet Lensa and bring her a special outfit. It was so fun for them – and Lensa was totally taken aback with a pretty dress, a jacket AND new shoes!
This power couple is involved in meeting the needs of hundreds of people both spiritually and physically, yet they remembered this one sweet girl and made her feel special and valued.