It was the smile in their eyes contrasted with the extreme conditions where they sat crouched, gripping babies. I was drawn to want to know the story of women in Ethiopia who make painful and difficult decisions about survival every day. There are few words to describe it, but Ethiopia changed me. I began to pray for clarity asking what was next, and soon we were lead to the unique ministry model of Children’s HopeChest.
The idea of washing feet started it all…
That first year our team knelt, removing shoes, soaking feet, and checking for health concerns. We watched as puzzled faces melted into smiles and before we knew it many were giggling. By the third day of play, medical foot checks, and some education, we decided to invite the local leaders and caregivers to come to the HopeChest CarePoint to meet and to pray. What we never expected were the warm words of welcome and the praise they gave for our actions as examples of how to care for their children. During that meeting they openly thanked us for returning. “You came back,”were the words that pierced my heart and from there, a vision was born. We needed to say less and listen more to what the people of the Chapa village desired for their families and for their lives.
That day I knew God was handing me a story to tell. It quickly became clear that my mission was to return home to encourage others to connect and to give—one community partnering with another community to establish sustainable change.
Fast forward to our next annual team trip to the Chapa CarePoint and my desire to go deeper with the women. I longed to hear their stories. Understanding the plight of women in the developing world is vital to knowing how we can begin to build sustainable change. We wanted to inspire the women to equip their children to dream, create and advance through education.
We invited the village women for a conference of sorts. I sat speechless, nervously unsure what to say as they sat smiling at me from the grass. Finally the words came to me.
“Tell them they are seen.”
In those moments shared together, our team of women did our best to enter into their daily lives by simply asking questions and carefully listening. We reminded them that God sees their pain and he knows their hearts for their children. The women shared their losses of husbands and children. They told of days without food. Several described their deep desire to be educated, skilled in something that would allow them even a simple job. The tears of our team members flowed and deep inside I was celebrating a great God would convict us toward advocating for these women. That day we closed our time together promising nothing except the simple idea that we would return home to share their story. They needed hope.
Then, I met a woman named Mallory Brown, an accomplished fundraiser with a huge heart for Ethiopia. In cooperation with Children’s HopeChest and Crowdrise, the vision of a heart-tugging, Crowdrise-style fundraising effort was born. With the guidance and foundational work of HopeChest experts on the ground the stage was set to create a Crowdrise video designed to help 30 women in Ethiopia find meaningful work.
Just days ago we returned home from the adventure and the story of a lifetime in Ethiopia. My husband and I, and our two children were joined by Mallory Brown and talented videographer, Ryan Doyle, as we journeyed back to the Chapa CarePoint to produce a fundraising campaign to allow us to create 30 jobs for 30 women by raising $30K. Mallory is a storyteller, a celebrity of sorts, and the main character shared the mission and asked people to donate for a big impact.
And it worked.
Life is messy. People are flawed, desperate and broken. Some have been called to enter in to the messy in order to be a conduit of change. If you are one of those people, stay the course, find your tribe and work together. Even when it feels like forever before the dawn, trust that God is in the details even when we cannot see or understand. Thank you to so many who supported our journey and the crazy idea that we could raise $30K for the women of Chapa. You did it and you did it well… donating $41K and counting! You blew us all away!
Photo credit: Ryan Doyle
Excerpted from www.beginwithone.com/we-did-it-30k-for-30-jobs-for-30-women/