Chris visits Faya and tells stories of the children

Guest blogger: Chris Johstone-Ardern
Board Member, Vulnerable Children Society

“You are hungry. We will feed you.”

It was March 2010 and we had just arrived for a visit at Faya Orphanage with our daughter H., who we adopted in Ethiopia in 2008. Earlier this year, we were back with her to visit Ethiopia and Faya Orphanage was one of the places we most wanted to see.

In the days before we arrived in Adama to visit Faya, our daughter had had major digestive issues due to anti-malarial medication she was taking for a trip to southern Ethiopia. As a result, she was ravenous and trying to make up for two days with little food or drink.

On the morning we visited Faya, H. had had a big breakfast at the hotel, but an hour later when we arrived at the orphanage she was very hungry once again.

“You are hungry. We will feed you,” said Meseret, the Director of Faya, to our daughter. Within minutes, H. was very enthusiastically eating a second breakfast of shirro and injera as she sat in the homey living room/bedroom in the little house that served as an orphanage.

“You are hungry. We will feed you.”

In her former role as head nurse at an adoption agency transition home, Meseret saw children needing new families fail medical exams due to positive tests for transmissible diseases. Diseases that people did not talk about openly, such as HIV/AIDS. Diseases that meant the children needing new families were not considered as easily adoptable and, in some cases, had no obvious place to which to return.

With the support of Canadians, Meseret created a place – a home – for some of these children.

“You are hungry. We will feed you.”

There are many ways to feed people. Shoring up a person during a time of trial can come through help in accessing medical care, assistance in continuing education or support in providing a place to stay when there are no other viable options. Faya Orphanage “feeds” children and families in all of these ways.

“You are hungry. We will feed you.”

N. is a three-year-old girl who is HIV positive. She lives with her mother, but stays at Faya during the week so that her young, single mother can continue her university education in Addis Ababa and plan for their future together.

“You are hungry. We will feed you.”

T. and her family have been badly affected by HIV/AIDS. She is HIV positive and has lost her husband and young daughter to the illness. With T.’s ability to work affected due to illness, her seventeen-year-old son, D., had left school to try to support the large family through work that earned him 50 cents per day. When T. and her son learned their family would be sponsored through Faya, they felt hope again knowing that, as they said, their heavy burden would now be shared. Among many other benefits, sponsorship through Faya has meant better access to medical care for T. and a return to school for D.

“You are hungry. We will feed you.”

K. is a young girl who lives at Faya. She is also a student, a gifted artist and the possessor of a blindingly beautiful smile.

“You are hungry. We will feed you.”

And Faya Orphanage does, in so many ways.

In the coming weeks, read more about Chris’ family’s visit to Faya Orphanage.

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