Our family lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where we are in the process of developing a large orphanage project. During the past two years, we have lived in Ethiopia as directors of Drawn From Water. It seemed that every day, of those two years, our hearts broke for the countless street children who have no mother and father to care for them. We have often debated how best to help these children, but, during the first two years, our hands were full with the project we were heading up.
Through an unfortunate series of events, the door to that project closed, and we found ourselves asking God for new direction. We knew we were called to orphan care in Ethiopia and that we had a lot to offer in the way of developing better methods and organizations. We made the decision to start a large family-style orphanage where the orphans of Ethiopia can be given a home.
Jessie and my combined experiences working with orphanages around the world over the past 15 years have led us to a clear understanding of the best practices that need to be implemented into our new project.
We have approached the local government and asked that they work together with us to see this project to reality, and the response was overwhelmingly positive! Although we do not plan to start-out quite this large, the government officials in charge asked in our first meeting that we build to a capacity of two thousand children. They said that within a few months, they would be able to direct that many orphaned children into our care. Presently, because the capacity does not exist in the country, they are literally leaving the children where they are on the streets. The level of need is staggering.
Our aim is to start with a capacity of roughly 100 children and expand each year. We believe that small home, family-style, village-model orphanages are the most effective way to raise well adjusted children who are ready to enter the world and become future leaders.
In addition, we have plans to build a school on the grounds–one that both the children in our orphanage and children from the neighboring areas can attend together. Our goal is to help raise future leaders for this country, children who will grow up with a sense of self worth and a solid faith in God.
Although we are believers in Adoption, personally having adopted two children ourselves, we have seen from living in Ethiopia for the past two years that adoption only solve a minuscule part of a huge problem. More needs to be done to address the greater issues, and we know that our family is called to do just that. This orphanage will focus on keeping the orphans in country and giving them the best possible foundation, both spiritually and emotionally, to go out in their country and contribute to its future success.
The time is now to step in and create a large scale, long term, sustainable model in Ethiopia for orphan care. The need is too great to ignore, and the current resources on the table are simply too small. Something has to be done. It is clear to us that the need is for a first-rate, Christ centered establishment in Ethiopia for orphans to call home.