Leaving a Legacy Through Sponsorship: Atkelt Simon’s Story

In the grand finale of our Fueling the Future Series, we’re bringing you a heartwarming conversation with Atkelt Simon. Atkelt is not just an employee at HopeChest; he’s a living example of how the love and support from sponsors can help mold an individual into the person they are today. And hey, we even managed to make our host, Wil Crooks, shed a tear – a first on our podcast! 

The love and support Atkelt received from his sponsors played a pivotal role in shaping him into the man he is today. As a former sponsored child who now works with HopeChest partners, Atkelt is the living, breathing proof that sponsorship works – and he’s got the statistics and his life to back it up. With humility and wisdom, he explains why supporting teens and young adults is so vital.

“My sponsors didn’t have to sponsor me, they chose to. They loved me. As a young boy, it made me think ‘Why do they care?’.  It pointed me to Jesus. To God’s love and His divine provision. Their encouragement and their voice carried a lot of weight. 
I want to encourage HopeChest sponsors: you have a special role in the life of the child you support. What you write is very powerful. I could see in my sponsors’ letters that they believed in me. I could see it, I could read it. They cared and they loved me.” 

So, join us for a light, heartwarming, and occasionally tear-inducing conversation as we wrap up our Fueling the Future Series in style. Atkelt’s journey is a beautiful testament to the power of love and support, and we can’t wait to share it with you. Get ready for an episode filled with heart and inspiration.

Atkelt at nine years old
Atkelt with a woman involved with the chicken coop project.
Atkelt today as a HopeChest employee visiting Guatemala

The impact of Atkelt’s sponsorship is evident through his cherished collection of letters from his sponsors, some dating back almost 30 years. Even after moving from Ethiopia to the U.S. eight years ago, these letters remain a treasure for Atkelt, reflecting the enduring impact of sponsorship on his life.

An excerpt from a letter to Atkelt from his sponsors:

Dear Atkeltetsyon Yosef, 
Today, we received your first letter written to us in English! We are so impressed. It’s very, very good, and it was such a lovely surprise. We have known from your school reports that you are clever and a hardworking young man, and this letter shows that to be the case; well done! 
We will continue to pray for you, and trust that with God’s grace, you will be able to fulfill your dreams and go to university.

An excerpt from the last letter Atkelt received from his sponsors before graduating his sponsorship program as a young man:

We still have your photo in our kitchen, and I shall leave it there so we won’t forget you. Continue to walk closely with God, who I know will take care of you. We send you blessings and wish you good health.

With our love, and our Savior’s love, 
The Turners



Wil smiling in a circular photoAs Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Wil builds relationships with HopeChest partners and potential partners. Wil started out as a pastor partnering with HopeChest, and now he shares the same vision that he caught with other potential partners.


As Strategic Partnership Director, Atkelt works with Wil to strengthen and build relationships with HopeChest partners and potential partners. He received his Bachelor of Information Systems from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and MBA from Colorado State University. When he’s not working or spending time with his family, he enjoys playing soccer and running.


“Build Relationships. Break Poverty.” is a podcast that challenges the Western perception of international poverty by elevating the voices of local leaders and processing how we can help to alleviate poverty without harming those living in vulnerable communities.

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