I write today in awe of God’s timing, amazed at the way He works.
As I wrote in the post this past weekend I had the honor of spending the night out on the street here in Addis Ababa, Yabi our local director and I both wanted to experience first hand the struggle that the countless thousands who live on the street every day have to deal with. Although one of the lessons that I learned was that I am a wimp, I also felt that God was showing me things through that experience, that he was working on my heart, to help me feel empathy not apathy, to change my heart and thinking about the poor.
Yesterday we had a chance to put some of those lessons to work.
I took this picture out of our front window from our house, I know its not very clear what is happening here but let me explain.
That small house that you see in the front of the lot in the photo belongs to a family that has lived there for the past several years, they have one daughter and their niece lives with them as well. Since moving here we have been working on ways to help them, to come along side them and do what we can to make their lives better. We have learned that handouts often only deepen the poverty that one lives with and so we have been mostly offering small jobs to Terahun, the father, and paying him well for his work and faithfulness. He is one of the hardest working men I have ever seen, the way he cleans our car would put a detailer in America out of business. He just knows how to dig in and get the work done. I love it, and it makes us want to bless them even more.
If you look closer in the picture above you will see that something is wrong though, Terahun and his family are in the process of disassembling their home. Over the past few weeks we have seen the police come and go from their home and wondered what was happening, but we were not sure. A few moments after snapping this picture I went over and talked with Terahun about what was happening.
Immediately he began to cry as he explained the situation that he was in.
“Someone leased this land from the government to build a home here and we were told that we have to be off the property by tomorrow.” He explained through a translator.
“We have nowhere to go and tomorrow morning we will be living on the street.”
It was like an electric shock through my heart, I knew just a little from my one night out there what living on the street was like, and while we stood there with his 4 year old daughter clutching my fingers and smiling up at me I knew that there was no way we were going to let this happen.
We talked for the next several minutes about the options he had, his wife works making Injera (a local food) in their home, but still owed on a small loan they had taken out to purchase the equipment and was not clearing more than a small amount each month after the loan payments, Terahun was working as a guard for the neighborhood, our landlord and several others on the block had gotten together and hired him to watch out for intruders during the night, but he was only making 350 Birr ($20) a month from that job. And the cheapest home that they were able to find that was in the area and would enable him to keep working cost 600 Birr ($35).
“We have no other option than to live outside on the street until we can save more money” He explained.
We thanked him for giving us the details the situation and told him that we needed to think about how we could help. Clearly we could not leave this family on the street, but we wanted to be sure that we were offering a real solution, not something that would in the end worsen their situation.
That night Jessie and I talked about the options we had, although the Bring Love In project has not yet opened it soon will, and we will need to hire around 20 people as soon as we start. There would clearly be some place in the organization for Terahun to work and make more money than he has been making, for one thing we knew we would be needing a guard at the office / transition home that we will be renting. We decided that we would talk to Terahun again the next day.
This morning I had the great pleasure of going to see Terahun and explaining to him that we were going to lease a small home for them for the next three months. In Ethiopia it is culturally insensitive to talk about things that are not yet a reality so we did not mention the possibility of a job just yet, but we did explain that we would continue to talk with him about ways that we could help them find work.
I say all of this not to praise ourselves, the total cost to help keep this family off of the street was less than 120 US dollars, hardly something that is going to put our family in danger and a gesture that I am sure anyone would have done in a heartbeat. But I wanted to share with you how thankful I am for the timing of God, and the heart that he is giving our family for those less fortunate. We are excited about what he has next and thankful that he is showing us ways to help with practical needs right now.
I will be sure to let you know how things go with this family, and hopefully share some pictures of their new home soon.
In the mean time please pray for Teraahun and his family as they move all of their belongings today, the police have shown up several times to make sure they are leaving, and I can see that this is a stressful situation for them even with the assistance for their rent.