A Place Where Life Isn’t Always So Sweet

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Far to the south of Addis Ababa is a massive swatch of sugarcane fields. The cane is watered by a branch of the Awash River, the ancient watershed where the Australopithecus afarensis Lucy and her cohorts once roamed over 3.2 million years ago. On a pot-holed gravel lane approximately 15 miles from the paved north-south asphalt highway is the town of Wonji. Ten or more miles along an even rougher track is the small village of Alem Gena. Shapely mud-walled compounds no different than those found in Ethiopian Medieval times line the roads

From this village comes one of the most tragic human stories we’ve heard

Please keep Debretu in your prayers. This widow is in her mid-70s. She says she has had 16 children of which only three survived into adulthood, the rest dying from illnesses related to the harsh environment. Of the three surviving children, one is mentally disabled and the other two have abandoned Debretu for unknown reasons.  Villagers say the adult children want to kill Debretu to get her land–land which isn’t much bigger than a basketball court.

We heard about Debretru’s situation through family contacts. Debretu is the focus of our most recent Empowerment Center outreach. Right now, she and her mentally disabled adult son, Befekadu, are literally starving and in poor health. Befekadu is called “momush” or “little boy” because despite a man’s body he has the mind of a child.

Empowerment Goals

The project’s first goal is to strengthen their health through pure mercy work–food, clothing, medical care. Gigi is continuing to interview her and her son and assessing the situation. If some kind of relationship can be reestablished between the older son and older daughter and the mother, that would be the ideal situation. There is no indication at this time that this is possible. The mother is likely nearing the end of her life and some consideration must be made for the handicapped son’s future existence. That, too, must be researched.

Difficult location to reach–Prayer needed

This is an extremely difficult location to reach. We serve six homes in Addis Ababa, all easily reached, and four homes in towns outside of the city. Three of these homes are modest journeys from Addis Ababa although unreachable by our small car so public transportation is required. Debretu’s home isn’t even reachable by public transportation. It requires a four-wheel drive vehicle. So, this is a challenge as we assess how to empower this center with the hope and spirit of Jesus Christ. Mercy aid is the critical need. Service evangelism, through a one-day English camp, may be possible. We simply ask God to open our hearts and minds so that it is His will being done, not ours.

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Scott and Gigi Martell have served with New International since 2009. Scott worked with Project Mercy in Ethiopia from 2007-2009. In 2009, Scott and Gigi established a mercy ministry in Ethiopia that empowers women and children and follows James 1:27.

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