Receiving Sponsorship Support as a Child Empowered Me to Empower Others

I grew up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in one of the destitute neighborhoods. My parents of four children did everything they could to provide for us and lead us to a better future. The coming of Compassion International through our local church was a Godsend for my family and many in my neighborhood.

young atkelt
A portrait of Atkelt at nine years old

The local church, volunteers, and the staff at the center came to support us, feed us God’s word, and restore our hope. It was a blessing to have all these people come alongside me. I was introduced to a family whom I never met in person but who deeply cared about me, supported, and prayed for me. These are the Turners from England, my sponsors, my friends. They regularly wrote letters to me sharing what was going on in their lives, asking about me and my family, and encouraging me with my achievements at school. I eagerly waited for their letters and enjoyed writing back to them. I treasure every letter they wrote to me and whenever I read them today, it brings a lot of good memories. It reminds me how God has taken care of me through his obedient saints.

An excerpt of a letter to Atkelt from the Turners

I am a Community Partnership Manager here at Children’s HopeChest. I work with passionate people whom I learn from every day and who wholeheartedly serve the Lord to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable and orphaned children. I consider myself very fortunate to serve alongside our HopeChest partnership leaders of North American partners, staff in Guatemala and here in the U.S. 

I also consider myself fortunate that God took me on a life journey to work with a host of people who serve vulnerable and orphaned children. From people who directly work with the children, to people who live far away from the children but are committed to supporting them. I witnessed the love of my caregivers at the center in Ethiopia firsthand. I worked as a social worker directly serving children; I taught Sunday school as a volunteer; I helped out translating children’s letters to English; I worked at a country office hosting trips and witnessing the great joy that happens when sponsors and children meet in-person; and now work at HopeChest in the headquarters and also support children myself. This unique opportunity enabled me to witness all the heroes who work diligently, taking part in God’s work to transform lives and communities. It is my prayer that you are encouraged and revived as you continue serving the Lord.

I have never met my sponsors in-person, but I still keep in touch with them. I hope to meet them in-person one day. HopeChest Friends, do you sometimes doubt if your support is making a difference? I totally understand the thought. I would like to encourage you that God is using your commitment and prayers through dedicated people who work for his Kingdom to bring lasting transformation!

I joined HopeChest right after grad school. My program was called Global Social Sustainable Enterprise, and it was highly-focused on sustainability. It was such a great fit for me when I learned what HopeChest stands for as an organization – creating sustainable change through long-term, two-way Community-to-Community relationships!

I am married to the love of my life who I call Sitota Keab, a gift from God. She leads a child sponsorship organization and is an everyday inspiration to me. We have a five-year-old who started kindergarten this year. He has a lot to say and is full of energy. This is my story, and I believe that God is changing the narrative, the story and life trajectory of vulnerable and orphaned children one at a time because of people like you who choose to serve Him in obedience.




portrait of AtkeltAs Community Partnership Manager, Atkelt is the bridge between North American partners and CarePoint communities in Guatemala. He received his Bachelor of Information Systems from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and MBA from Colorado State University. If he had a whole day free, he would would take his wife and son out — enjoying nature, eating out, and spending time with them. His two favorite texts are the Bible and Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love.” When he’s not working or spending time with his family, he enjoys playing soccer and running.