There is Hope. God is at work changing lives. But the harvest is so great and the workers are so few…

The agenda for the day was to visit various Hope Enterprise facilities and programs in Addis Ababa. We had a wonderful breakfast at the SIM guest house where we were able to meet others who were also guests (a young missionary couple with 3 young children working in the remote “lowland” NW of Addis Ababa where they are teaching traditional herders how to farm for the survival).

pictureWe then started our tour at Hope Enterprise’s headquarters.  We presented them with computers and books that we had brought from MPPC, and went down to the children’s feeding center that is part of the building.

Hope’s Children Feeding Program is for students who are supported by Hope, and they greeted us with songs and clapping (it seemed like a song of praise). Heidi presented a Bible story with our endearing puppet dog, Scruffy, that captivated the attention of the students aged Kindergarten through High School age as they ate their rolls and bananas.

pictureKids seem to be kids any place in the world – for me, I was a bit hesitant and not sure on how to interact with the children (“Will they be offended that we are “observing” them? Will they be reserved and not wanting to connect with us?”), but they were not shy to show us their precious smiles and to reach out to us. They loved using our cameras, and we had a great time taking each other’s pictures. picture

After visiting the feeding center, we headed towards the Addis branch of Hope Enterprise schools. I was incredibly impressed by its size and the professionalism of the structure of the school. And it was teeming with really joyful kids within an oasis of peace and health (lunch for all, breakfast for most) and self-worth.

pictureHope School “for the least of our brethren” includes grades 1 through 10 (then they take a standardized exam to determine entry into Preparatory School). Hope recruits by going to a municipal office and asking for the names of the very poorest families. Then they go to their homes to interview them for entrance. They accept the very poorest (with the qualification of a minimum test score). They have 770 children in the school.

I was especially impressed by the vocational school. It includes about 147 teens (again, only the very poorest may apply) in schools of either Hospitability/Catering (1-year program), Woodwork or Electrical (each 2-years) or Metal-work (3-years). They told us they have a 100% job placement rate. They are especially proud of the Hospitality graduates who are being snapped up by the Sheraton and other luxury hotels. What a phenomenal experience that must be for street children! Hope’s Pastor Mattewos told us the story of a student who was so poor that he never had breakfast and struggled to be alert, but now has his own business, has a car (a sign of wealth in Ethiopia) and “is fat” and successful.

picture“Hello, my name is… Hello, my name is…” As we tour the grounds children of all ages approach us excitedly. The older ones introduce themselves while the young ones just keep repeating those phrases (they’ve learned them by rote, but don’t know their meaning enough to include their name!). They will soon learn. This school is their hope of a real future. Before we depart, we peek in on Hope’s injera factory where women are making the 1,000 giant injeras (the tortilla-like indigenous bread) for the school and women’s lunch programs.

pictureOur next stop: Hope University College – the hope of advanced learning and development in a land that sorely needs both. The site of Hope University College is a fast-growing outer area of Addis Ababa (lots of government and private residential projects all seem to be in the progress at the same time). Daniel, the Dutch architect greeted us and described some of the ideas behind his design of the buildings that collectively represent Ethiopia’s “eye” looking towards heaven! The university is expected to open this coming October, which is quite exciting. pictureDaniel is acting now as project manager of some 175 workers. The library is an innovative steeply sloping building with a garden (as yet unplanted) covering its entire roof. In the center of the “eye” is the auditorium, a grand conical building rather in the shape of a traditional round mud hut. And speaking of mud, we slog through deep mud as we tour the site and Daniel explains that their next fund-raising task is to find sponsorship for the landscaping. Very impressive site! Our experience of the dynamic vision of the University stuck with us (as did a fair amount of its mud).

pictureAt lunchtime we visited Hope’s Women’s Feeding Program, where some 250 women with small children come every day for what may be their only meal. Each gets a giant injera and a bowl of dipping sauce. The very poor struggling to survive…and 7 women building a business. Hope has a ceramic workshop at the same site with pottery wheel, clay, kiln. They brought women in and tried to teach them pottery, but for whatever reason the women apparently did not pick it up and Hope abandoned the project. Then a few other women came to them on their own, and asked to use the facility and have built a successful pottery business with a small store on-site. We did our best to contribute to their economy with purchases of ceramic products that were unique and beautiful in their design and color.

pictureThat evening, after a drive in the hills and a refreshing nap, Zeneba escorted us to Yod Abysinnian Cultural Restaurant where we enjoyed a wonderful traditional buffet (and traditional hand-washing), traditional music and dance.  We shared the company of a small (5-person) team from Venture Church, Los Gatos, who arrived today and plan 2 weeks between Addis Ababa and their project with Hope in Harare. Zeneba and Pastor Matthewos looked very tired (and a few of us were catching some z’s during the dance!).

As we head back to SIM for the night, I reflect on our day. There is hope in the world (pun intended) because there have always been those who can hear the call of God and who respond. He is our Hope.