Life Skills for Ethiopia’s Most Vulnerable Children

by Melodie
HopeChest Blog Contributor

One of my favorite projects this holiday was teaching our oldest daughter how to sew on the sewing machine. I remember very clearly the day my mom taught me. I was 8, had my McCall’s pattern in hand, fabric picked out and ready to make my first pair of culottes (remember those 1980’s special flared shorts?) I felt like I was able to do anything with fabric, a needle and some thread. Opportunities to create exploded in my little world.

I felt the same way teaching my daughter. She was so eager to get on that machine and make fun little pillows for her little sister.

My kids get to learn basic skills; have an opportunity to expand their creative outlets because I’m there, present and willing to teach them.

How many kids would give anything to have a person show them one skill? Something as simple as how to wash a pan, fold a sheet, make a bed or take out the garbage. Someone to come alongside them, tell them what to do and then say, “Good job!”

In Ethiopia, halfway across the world from where we live, girls between 15-23 are getting similar opportunities. Someone is coming alongside of them, teaching them how to read, to write, to sew, to create.



The residents of the YDP Program with Dean Hanson, one of the program's founding partners.

The residents of the Ethiopia YDP Program with Dean Hanson, one of the program’s founding partners.



The Youth Development Program (YDP), part of Children’s HopeChest Ethiopia, gives highly vulnerable girls in Ethiopia a place to live. They are taught basic life skills; such as making coffee (buna), caring for their home, basic hospitality, and other life skills they need.

The YDP helps participants complete their education while learning life skills and receiving Christian discipleship. The YDP is strengthened by the support of loving, responsible adults, helping participants reach the next stage of personal, educational, and spiritual development.

Each YDP participant is given a personal care plan with both short and long term goals to help them both overcome current obstacles while charting a course toward independent living.

My heart does a little dance when I think of girls, around the age of my daughter, getting a chance to know that what they do matters; that it makes a difference.

I think this is what Jesus meant when he said to care for the fatherless. To care means to take the time to show children simple tasks. It doesn’t always mean extravagant gifts or building projects. Sometimes the very simple, ordinary tasks taught to a child can have the greatest impact in their lives. I see it in my daughter here and I have seen it in the girls in Ethiopia.


Melodie is a mom, writer, a marathon runner, a baker, and blogger. She grew up in Africa, living in Nigeria, Liberia, Kenya and Ethiopia. Today she lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and three kids.
Email Melodie if you are interested in blogging for HopeChest.

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