Since our trip, I have thought of often of a man named Robel. Robel works for America World and was our travel guide during our trip to Ethiopia....but he was really so much more. Robel was really an inspiration to me; an example of what it is to live out your faith. Some of the details of his story are fuzzy to me, but I will share what I do know the best I can.....As a ten year old boy, Robel moved 300 miles away from his mom and sister to Addis Ababa (capital city) to work and help provide for them. He was a street kid and did what he could to get by - washed cars, shined shoes, etc. He came to become a Christian through an organization that had soccer games for the kids to participate in. It was a Christian organization and in time they asked him to come to Bible studies in addition to the games. He described to me being overcome as he read the Bible, feeling as though God was talking straight to him. He continued to attend church and grow in his faith. Through some experiences and connections with people that can only be attributed to God's hand on his life, Robel was able to go to college in Cuba. He returned to Addis Ababa, where he lives now, to "pay it forward". He worked for the UN for a while, but being disgusted by the waste of money that could go to help others, he quit. He now works for our adoption agency and recently worked with National Geographic to shoot a television show called "Departures" where he traveled with their crew to document Ethiopia.
Robel is an amazing man....young and yet so sure of what it is to live out his faith. He has about 23 street kids that he works with. He checks in on them, makes sure they go to school (which costs him money), teaches them to sell or serve (ex. shining shoes) for money instead of expecting a hand out. He knows what it is to walk in their shoes and invests in their lives. He is amazing with the kids - both on the streets and in the orphanages. Robel is in the process of starting an organization to help these kids called Children's Future Ethiopia. If you are not a friend of Facebook, look it up. There are opportunities to help and sponsor kids coming soon! Get connected with him and support him to help him make a difference. I have seen these precious kids with my own eyes.....they need you.
We had such a good time getting to know Robel. It was only a week of our life, but we were forever challenged to live more sacrificially and act on our faith. If only the world had more Robels.....it would surely be a better place.
We are a family of ten...striving to live the lives that please God...getting it wrong a lot of the time, but trying nonetheless. We have eight beautiful children...three were given to us through birth and five through the miracle of adoption. We feel blessed to be living the life we've been given.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
~ One in ten children die before their first birthday ~ One in six children die before their fifth birthday ~ 44% of the population is under 15 years old ~ 60% of children in Ethiopia are stunted because of malnutrition ~ The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years old ~ 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world) ~ There are roughly 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia ~ Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa ~ Half of the children in Ethiopia will never attend school. ~ 88% will never attend secondary school ~ Coffee prices (Ethiopia's only major export) declined 40-60% from 1998-2002 ~ Ethiopia's doctor to children ratio is 1 to 24,000 ~ Severe drought struck country from 2000-2002 (first year no crops, second year no seeds, third year no animals)