My sister Sophie arrived in Ethiopia a week ago, and will be working at the Soddo Hospital until August. She sent me this email on Friday.
Dr. Ruth asked us if we would be able to walk a family to the orphanage. A couple had brought their infant to the outpatient department, hoping to give her up for adoption. When I saw them, I immediately knew that the dad had AIDS. He was remarkably thin, with a round belly. Every single bone in his face stuck out, and he looked completely exhausted. The mom was a beautiful petite little thing, openly nursing her gorgeous (no words to express how beautiful this baby is!), chubby baby.
I took a deep breath, chatted as much as I could (about 2 sentences before explaining to her that I only speak a little bit of Amharic and don’t understand what she just said), admired the baby, and started the walk to the orphanage. My heart broke for the family walking behind me. How completely desperate they must be to bring this stunningly beautiful, and clearly cherished, child to an orphanage. I sadly noticed that their clothes were church clothes—they must have dressed up for the occasion. I’m pretty sure I could not have done that.
When we got to the orphanage, we were surrounded by even more gorgeous little ones, all vying for our attention. Even though I held hands and greeted these giggling children, my heart was still with that mom who was holding her baby close to her. We presented the family to the man in charge, who asked a few questions (mostly, “if you are both alive, why are you bringing this child here?”) before telling them that they needed to bring the child to their local kebele (government office), who would take care of the court proceedings before they could legally give their child up. Dad was not happy about it, but I think I saw a hint of relief in the mother’s eyes. Not today, she was thinking.
As I had chai and dabbo (tea and bread) at that orphanage with children crawling all over me, I wondered what would happen with that family. Would the mom convince her husband that they could wait just awhile longer? Maybe she wouldn’t get sick. Maybe the little girl is healthy. Maybe they wouldn’t have to say goodbye to their cherished baby. Maybe their prayers would be answered.
Maybe someday we’ll understand why God chooses to do what He does. Maybe we’ll know why He lets things happen that, from our perspective, could never be “for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” How could a continent full of orphaned children be good for anyone?
Mary here: I want to again thank those of you whose donations to the Blanket Party totaled over $4000. My sister is investigating where to buy the blankets for the babies– our initial project. Some of the money has already reached the hospital and will soon be used for a washing machine. A donation will also soon be given to Dr. Mary, a hard-working doctor in that poverty-stricken region, to be used for the greatest need of the people she serves.
So much work still needs to be done. But I am so grateful you were willing to partner with my family and do the great things that you already did! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.