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“My best ever lady…”

We wave goodbye to her as she is placed back in her crib, her bottom lip under her teeth as she waves brightly, Andrew and I making fools of ourselves waving, waving, “Bye!  Bye!  We love you!”  She keeps waving, up and down from the wrist, turning her head to the side.

We load into the car and Fekadu, our driver, asks us about our time and asks us if we are hungry for lunch.  We are, and we pull up to Sky View.  It starts to rain and we walk up the stairs, surrounded by trees to a little room lined in windows, full view of the tree tops, making us feel like we are perched in a tree house in the jungle.

We order our food and chat with Fekadu.  He is humble and quiet, with large, kind eyes. It’s easy to feel comfortable while with him because he doesn’t need to fill space with talking if it’s time to be quiet, you can be yourself .  Andrew respects him immediately, I can tell.  We chat more and more, and then he asks us, “Have you ever heard of Compassion International?”

“Yeah!”  We respond.  “We love Compassion, we sponsor a couple girls.”

“I was a Compassion child,” he tells us, totally catching us off guard.

“What!?  NO way!  That’s amazing!” we tell him.  He is my same age.

He starts to tell us about his family when he was a child, he never met his father, and his mom remarried a man who was an alcoholic.  He would hit him everyday.  I start to get upset thinking of anyone hurting such a kind soul, Andrew too.

“So I had to start sleeping outside on the street.  I was 8, and didn’t have shoes or go to school.  I was one of the first groups of kids Compassion worked with, and I was chosen by Nerida, she lives in Australia.”

When he says her name, a smile comes to his face, not a showy smile, but one of deep joy, of love, as though the love she has shown him over many years has illuminated a permanent light in his heart, in who he is.  This serene, humble man asks us shyly if we want to see her picture, proud.

“Of course,” we say, we’re both feeling overwhelmed by this story, amazed, to see the other end of this, to see him now, an adult, showing us his sponsor.  It felt surreal, humbling.   He pulls out his phone, there are only a couple pictures on it.

“This is her, Nerida, my best ever lady.  She saved my life.  I am who I am today because of her, because she chose me,” he shows us his best ever lady as if she were the most precious, important thing in his life.

 

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He shows us a couple more pictures, they met a few years ago.  They took a trip to India together.  A picture of Nerida, her husband, son and him, “Family Picture,” he tells us, proud, as he pulls it back to see it again himself, smiling at the photo.  This, these people, are everything to him, he doesn’t even need to say it, it shows on his face when he looks at them.

 

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He tells us that when he was chosen, he got shoes.  He got regular meals, and was able to go to school.  How he is able to be the man he is today because he was sponsored.  Because he was chosen by Nerida and her family.

“How much is sponsoring?” he asks us, “$38?  $40 a month?”

“$38,” we tell him.

“Maybe for sponsors it’s like nothing, an after thought, but for the kids, it’s their whole life.”

“It’s everything.”

“Wow…” we tell him as I think about our two girls we sponsor, their little lives becoming more illuminated to me.  We always have known Compassion is good, do good things, but to see Fekadu’s face, and hear his words…

“She would write me letters,” he told us as he put her picture away, “And I have every one.  I’ve saved every letter, every book mark, I remember the encouragement she would write to me.  She saved my life.”

After meeting our daughter for the first time just hours ago, then hearing Fekadu’s story, we can’t hold back the tears, Andrew and I sitting, stunned listening to his story, taking it all in as the rain streamed down the windows, the sky still bright.  He is quiet and humble, but the light inside of him, his joy, shining.

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“Every month, we would all run to the office to see if there were letters, I always had one, she always wrote to me.  Some of the other kids didn’t get letters, and they were so sad, it’s important to write.”

“It am thankful for the life God gave me because of it.  The shoes, the education, the food, it’s the reason I am here.”  He looks down at his hands, “But the most important thing that I got from being sponsored is learning about Jesus Christ.  It’s because of him that I have forgiven my step father.  We don’t really have a relationship, but I have forgiven him in my heart, and now, because of that forgiveness and because of Jesus, I support my half brother and sister, his children, and I put them through college through my work.”

Too much.  We see their photos, a handsome young man and woman, their arms around him.  They look healthy and confident, he tells us what each of them are studying.  He shows us his mom, he tells us she is his hero, he supports her, too, with his work.  His work that he was able to do because he was sponsored by Nerida.

We learn he also sponsors other families locally, a widow and her 14 year old son who is paralyzed throughout his entire body.  They have no wheelchair, so she carries his grown, limp body on her back.  “I cried the whole day I met them,” he tells us as he showed us her smiling face next to her son in a picture, their clothes tattered, but Fekadu helps to provide meals for them through his sponsorship.  He bought them a simple wheelchair, not fancy, but usable.

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He sponsors a poor family who lives at the dump.  He loves them.  He works with the youth in his church.

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“I can’t live my life without helping others the way I was helped.”

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Andrew and I told him that we are going to chose another child to sponsor through Compassion, one in Ethiopia.  We are hoping that in a couple years, we can travel back as a family to visit that child.

“That would mean everything to them,” he nodded.

“But you’ll have to drive us,” we smiled.

He nodded and smiled.

Fekadu wrote this with someone thinking about sponsoring;

A message for the people who would like to start sponsoring in the future is….here is an open field to be God’s hand and feet. You will never regret for what you will do here in the lives of Children. This is a place where the blessings flow for both the child and sponsor.
Compassion for me…..’Compassion is an angel which was sent from God to save my life.”

 

If you are interested in sponsoring a child through Compassion, you can find the children waiting for sponsors here: www.compassion.com

 

We started looking at some of the little boys in Ethiopia, and they each now have a little video with their profiles you can see.  Hearing their sweet voices will make the decision of which child to chose kind of hard, but in picking one, know that through that simple act, there are untold lives who will be touched and effected by just this one child that you choose.  Just like Nerida.

Just like Fekadu.  22 years ago.

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“Appreciation and gratitude goes to my favorite organization ever, Compassion International which is highly committed to change the lives of children by releasing them from spiritual, physical, social and economical poverty. I am here, who is a live testimony to witness this.”

Andrew and I were so honored to meet Fekadu, and to hear his life, his love for Compassion.  About his sponsor,  Nerida, who to this day is touching lives with that one decision.  Who sponsored and encouraged him for 14 years.  Hearing about the lives he serves and supports now because of being a sponsored child.

We are honored to share his story here.  To share the other end of those sweet faces just waiting to be sponsored.

Compassion International, you are doing a good thing, we are so honored to be a part of it.

 

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Julie June 18, 2015, 12:35 pm

    I love reading your blog but I don’t think I’ve ever commented! This post has touched me so deeply! Please tell Fekadu that his story has touched me and I plan to sponsor a Compassion child. Praying for your family!

  • Rebecca June 18, 2015, 1:34 pm

    Is there a way we can help to buy a wheelchair for the family that Fekadu helps?

  • Kelly Bryson June 18, 2015, 2:55 pm

    This made me immediately write to my sponsored child, which I am often remiss about doing. Thank you for this reminder that it is important to them!

  • Alexis June 18, 2015, 5:07 pm

    Wow. This is so incredible. It’s such a good reminder of the impact our sponsorship is having on our two sponsor kids and their families. I went to Kenya in 2008 and had the chance to visit 2 Compassion programs. At one of them we met my friend’s sponsor child and his family. He is masai and lives in a mud hut with a bed on the floor and a fire for cooking in the corner. The experience of meeting him and seeing how Compassion was changing his life changed me forever. I think of him every time I send a letter, every day we pray for our two Compassion children. If you think it doesn’t matter, it does. It makes a world of difference to not just the kids, but to their whole families.

  • Hannah H. June 18, 2015, 6:31 pm

    This story was so beautiful and encouraging!! We sponsor a little guy in Ethiopia and correspond with a teenage girl, both through Compassion. And I loved seeing the photos of your precious little one!! She’s beautiful!!

  • Lauren June 18, 2015, 8:00 pm

    Thank you for this post. I have been reading your blog voraciously for a few days now. My heart longs to adopt. I am waiting for God to speak to my husband though. Because of your post, today I sponsored a child through Compassion. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  • Crystal June 19, 2015, 12:47 am

    This is so amazing! We have 6 Compassion kids (have had others leave the program), and I CANNOT WAIT to meet some in the future!

  • Nerida Grewal June 19, 2015, 5:35 am

    Never underestimate the impact of what you are able to do for just one child through sponsorship. Fekadu and I got to meet face to face just 2.5yrs ago. He located me on facebook a few years before that and we re-started our correspondence which had ceased at the end of our sponsorship when Fekadu was chosen to attend Uni. We were unable to afford the sponsorship fees for uni which were 10x the usual monthly fees of children to the age of 18. Fekadu was our first sponsored child, and though I had been aware that sponsorship would cease when he completed his high schooling, I was still heartbroken when asked to finish sponsorship. It was only through Fekadu’s efforts to find me again that I fully realised the impact that sponsorship had upon him, and each child that is able to be sponsored. That Fekadu has been able to share his story and encourage others to sponsor children has been a true circle of blessing. The year we were finally able to visit Ethiopia and meet fekadu for the first time in person, we also visited our current 2 boys we sponsor there. Sponsorship changes lives. Through Compassion it brings reality to God’s love and provision through that simple monthly provision. Whole families hear of God’s love, and see it at work through that sponsorship. Letters are cherished and every one is kept as a precious communication from that child’s very much loved sponsor. it is very personal. Never doubt that for a second. Your letters mean a great deal to your sponsored child. Each of our currently sponsored boys has saved every letter, every card, photo, bookmark that has been sent. All the children do this.
    Do not despair if you cannot afford sponsorship… and there are those that find this is beyond their ablity financially. You can be a part. There are children who are sponsored, but, for whatever the reason, that sponsor does not write. You can step up and be there for those children… one or many… and be a ‘correspondent’ for a child in this circumstance. Just contact a Compassion office in your area and ask them to arrange this. You will get the letters from that child for whom you are correspondent, they will in turn get your letters and small gifts that are allowed to be sent, and you will have a relationship with that child as strong as you would as a sponsor. You will be an encourager, a supporter, someone who loves them and prays for them, and they will do the same for you. They are told you are not there sponsor but will be writing to them because their own sponsor is unable to do so. You will get updates and photos along the way. Your time as their correspondent may not last as long. If the sponsoring person cancels sponsorship you will cease being their correspondent, but can write a final letter to them explaining why they will no longer hear from you.
    I am correspondent for 7 children at this time. Two others have had their sponsor cease sponsorship and my own correspondence ceased with those two children because of this. This opens the way for the children to be available for sponsorship again y another. I was actually offered the option of sponsorship on these two occasions but financially am unable to take on more than those we currently sponsor. I am grateful for the time I have with each child, loving them for a time, allowing them to know through letters that they are loved, that God loves them, that they are beautiful, worthwhile, precious individuals who can do their best with whatever they have to live, love, and use their god-given abilities and talents to make the most of their lives, and that no matter what even without letters I will never forget them and will pray for them.
    The power of the written word, when written with love, can travel round the world and back.
    Thank you for your own written words here, for those who have read them, and for those who have taken action and chosen to sponsor, or to increase their communication and deepen the relationship they have with their sponsored child/children. You will bless and be blessed in equal measure.
    Nerida 🙂

  • Victoria June 19, 2015, 7:11 am

    Thank you for this wonderful article on our friend, Fekadu. My husband met Fekadu in Ethiopia when he went to meet our daughters’ Compassion child. He is a wonderful man.

  • maria channon June 19, 2015, 2:31 pm

    I’m a sponser myself to a young girl in Salvador, your story touches peoples heart. I’m so glad people can have the joy in sponsoring children around the world, it’s touched my heart.

  • Jenny June 20, 2015, 7:06 am

    We had already been thinking of getting a child thru compassion. This reminded me to look again. We decided to sponser two kiddos a boy that shares my sons exact birthday and a girl that shared my daughters exact birthday. Their birthdays are coming up next month! Im excited to bless these children and think it will be a wonderful experience for our kids to see how a child exactly like them is growing up. Hope we get the info in time to be able to send a little gift and cards for their birthdays. What a wonderful organization. Thanks for sharing!

  • Joann Woolley June 22, 2015, 6:58 pm

    I love that he has gone on to sponsor other families and make this full circle. What an amazing story. Thank you for sharing.

  • Sara June 22, 2015, 7:02 pm

    This is such a beautiful and touching story. It is so true…what is such a little amount to us (the cost of one meal out) would change an entire child’s world. Thank you for the reminder that we were put here to bless others.

  • arelyn June 23, 2015, 9:43 am

    Thank you so much for sharing the other side of the Compassion program! The little girl I started sponsoring as a university student (I gave up vending machines to do it) is now nearly 18 and this totally helped me decide to take another sponsor child once she leaves the program.

  • Jean June 28, 2015, 7:54 pm

    I was so moved by your post – I went straight over to Compassion Int. and adopted a little girl in the Dominican Republic who is about 3 years old. I have often thought about adoption – but do not have the resources to bring a child into my physical home. This post helped me to see that sponsorships are not ‘second best’ – God moves through so many ways – just another way of showing His love across the world. I look forward to writing my little one and encouraging her care givers. God Bless you and Fekadu!

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