by Joy Casey

A baby girl was born in a hospital in Shashemene March 3, 2022.  She was immediately put in intensive care and subsequently diagnosed with hydrocephaly.  Her birth mother gave a fictitious address on admission and then disappeared from her hospital bed leaving her tiny daughter behind.  Geleta, the kind nurse in charge of this abandoned baby, named her Simerra which means ‘You are from God’.

Nineteen days later the police brought Simerra to our Joyful Place orphanage.  She was weak and struggled to eat and her head alarmingly continued to grow.  Not good.  In May she was taken to a specialist who scheduled her to have shunts placed in her head to drain the fluid.  Her June surgery was a success and Miss Simerra’s head decreased in circumference dramatically with her overall health and alertness improving significantly.  Good!

Several months after surgery our baby started having seizures.  Not good.  Medication controlled the seizures, and all breathed a sigh of relief.  As months passed, our nurse began to suspect her vision was affected.  Simerra did not track objects or flinch as an object came near her eyes.  Not good at all.

The goal of our orphanage is to find a Christian family to adopt each little one brought into our care.  However, the chances of an Ethiopian family adopting Simerra with significant medical issues is close to zero.  Not good news.

A colleague of Joy’s runs an orphanage about two hours south of Shasheme that is set up to care for special needs children primarily.  Jennifer Fills-Crook has created an amazing (AMAZING!) place for children unlike anything available in Ethiopia.  Children in  Uyradi’s Village are cared for by a remarkable team of professionals and nannies that meet the long-term needs of children with varying handicaps.  Soooo good!  We knew this was the best place for Simerra to receive the special care she needs.  She is the third child we have placed in the capable hands of Uyradi’s Village.

In 2019, 1-year-old Dureti was transferred to UV.  Affected by cerebral palsy, Dureti  was not thriving and was deaf.  Last summer she had surgery for placement of a G-tube as she was unable to eat enough orally to gain weight.  She is now doing much better with supplements and continues receiving therapies for her significant challenges.

In 2018, Michu, also diagnosed with CP, was welcomed to Uyradi’s Village.  She has thrived and that big smile of hers says it all.  As a baby she so wanted to move and go places, but her body just wouldn’t cooperate.  With intense physical therapy and assistive devices, we are overjoyed to see her walking on her own!

It was hard for the orphanage staff to see Simerra go.  This past year everybody has fallen in love with this sweet-natured baby.  The nannies and nurse have comforted and nurtured her through some pretty scary physical challenges.  However, they know that at Uyradi’s Village she will be closely monitored by an international team of therapists and the capable doctors of Soddo Christian Hospital.

So, it was with bitter-sweet tears they prayed for her and said good-bye as she and Nanny Aster were driven to Soddo by Ephrem, our orphanage director.

Simerra was welcomed by Amarech, the General Manager of Uyradi’s Village.  The care center is at capacity, but they would not refuse this little girl facing significant challenges.  We are extremely grateful for this resource!  The care is exceptional – but it is the core values of the organization and heart of the people ministering day-in, day-out that will make this village a home for our Simerra.