Ever since my first trip to Ethiopia in 2010, a piece of my heart resides there. I can't fully explain it, but once you go, it changes you. I am so thankful that God has expanded my view of the world through this beautiful country and its people.
After that first trip, I knew that God was asking for more from me and my family. We were now aware of the needs and we were required to act (Proverbs 24:12).
And so our adventure with Children’s HopeChest and their sponsorship program began.
When Summit decided to join Children's HopeChest to help support a new CarePoint in Ethiopia, I couldn't have been more excited. This CarePoint is in the early stages and we have an awesome opportunity as a church to partner with this community.
Last June, a group of friends and I jumped on a plane and headed to Ethiopia for what proved to be a life-changing trip for all of us.
As we spent time with the children and staff at Summit’s CarePoint (which is called “I Care for the Nation”), we began to learn more about their stories.
The children there are among some of the most vulnerable in the city of Addis Ababa. Most come from single-mother households, which puts them at higher risk of suffering from the effects of material poverty. Some have witnessed or experienced domestic violence, the effects of substance abuse, HIV and other illnesses, and have endured many other painful and traumatic circumstances.
One common theme we heard was that opportunities are limited for girls and women (particularly single mothers) to be educated and to be able to earn an income and provide for their children.
There are very few social services available, so most of the children at “I Care” have endured chronic food insecurity, inadequate housing, a lack of medical care, increased stress, and risk of relational breakdown within their families.
Thankfully there is hope and through the partnership that Summit has with I Care for the Nation and Children’s HopeChest, the children at this CarePoint have begun to receive educational support, discipleship, supplemental food, clothing, and relational counseling. Meeting these basic needs is vital at this stage of development.
But it is not the long-term solution.
The ultimate goal is for these mothers and caregivers to be able to provide for their own families and to gain independence through self-sustaining employment.
This past Christmas season, thanks to the generosity of many, thousands of dollars were raised to launch a women’s empowerment and income-generating program to train the caregivers of the children at I Care in jobs that will allow them to become self-supporting.
God is on the move at I Care and the work being done there has the potential to effect community-wide change. As I was writing this post, a team from Summit was on the ground working with the kids, staff, and families there. I’m so excited to get to hear from the team about all the progress that has happened over the past year and look forward with great anticipation to what God has planned for I Care for the Nation.
We are so grateful for all that God is up to in Africa and that He invites us to be a part of it. We hope you'll Join Africa alongside us.
Jessica Irvin and her family have been attending Summit since 2008. In addition to her huge heart for Africa and children sponsorship, she is a pediatric nurse practitioner providing healthcare to uninsured and under-insured kids in a school-based health clinic, a mother of 8 children, and has been married for almost 15 years. You can follow her family blog right here.