I realize that it is very likely that many of you who are reading might not read often, or might just be joining us on this journey. I actually woke up today and was going to write a quick update, but then thought some more and came to the conclusion that it would be completely out of context for many of you.
And so… I am going to try and catch you up. A how-we-got-here to where we are at today.
We are Levi and Jessie Benkert (well this is Levi writing, but you know what I mean) and we live in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with our four children We moved to Ethiopia from America three years ago to be directors of a project called Drawn From Water, where we worked to rescue children who had been deemed cursed by their tribe and were to be killed. We spent two years working among the tribes and during that time rescued more than 30 children. Then. After some changes in the way the tribes viewed our assistance as outsiders, and a shift in policy that meant the government was performing rescues and not allowing organizations such as ours to do the same work any longer. We took some time to step back and as a family consider what we should do next.
We felt that so much had been invested in our “education” of working with the people of Ethiopia, and at the same time there was this overwhelming need all around us for orphans to be given families… And so Bring Love In was born.
A project that gives orphans here in Ethiopia new families locally.
We work with local churches to find respectable, admirable Christian women who either were abandoned or who’s husbands had died. And we place them with orphans in homes who together become a new family.
Our plan is not for just a few houses though! Just one of the places where the government holds children who have lost family has 150 beds and 375 children. The resources to care for orphans are simply not available in this country. And we are planning to do what we can to give families to as many of these children as possible. All the while helping raise up a generation of leaders who will help their home country in the future.
So far we have gone through a tremendously difficult process to get licensed at the highest level available in this country for orphan care. At the end of all this we are now essentially “government partners” and able to take children directly from the government orphanages and place them in our new families where they will remain until they are grown.
I could go on and on about how complicated and difficult this process has been, but in the end it is more important to say that all of this effort was more than worth it even if it were just for one child. But it isn’t just one child! Our agreement with the government calls for us to place 60 children in our new families before the end of the year, and to sponsor another 50 families within the community that we work in. Families who are living in conditions where their children may become orphaned because of a lack of resources. So, in effect, we are here for both children who have been orphaned already, widows who have no opportunity to get ahead, and families who are at risk of loosing their children because they do not have enough resources to meet their own basic needs. We are here for the whole community.
And so, that brings us to today.
We now have an office with the most wonderful, brilliant local staff, all of whom are highly educated, and chomping at the bit to get started.
We have two homes set up and completely finished (house mothers and all!), with another three homes that we are working on getting started in the coming weeks.
On Friday of last week, we had our final inspection on the project and things went very well! Yet, after the inspection we were told that there is one final approval signature that is needed on the paperwork before they can transfer children to us. And… The government official who needs to sign is sick and has been in the hospital. (grrrr)
Today, we want to ask that you pray with us that this person would get well soon, and that this document would be signed and we could start creating new families here in Ethiopia. The sooner we get these first homes opened, the sooner we can go on to start getting more families created and give more orphans the love that they deserve.