A Joyful Journey CP Africa Trip
Part Ten: A Lesson on Love

Salem’s Children’s Village and Bring Love in: A Lesson on Love

Selam Children’s Village serves is an orphanage for Ethiopian children. Currently, the village holds 350 children which range from 3 months old to 18 years. Through out the village, there are many duplexes and in each house there are 15 children to 2 adults. These two individuals serve as mentor but most importantly parental figures to their children. Tofik, our guide and previous child of Selam, explained to us the importance of his “mother” and “father”. Seeing him interact with them was amazing. The way they hugged and laughed with one another was proof that blood or not, Tofik had parents who loved him unconditionally.

Building a stable family environment between the children and their “parents” in each house hold is very important. However, the villages main goal is to maintain and create a stable longevity for itself. In the village, they grow their own plants for profit, make their own soil to sell, and raise cattle for fresh milk. We were able to observe these processes taking place. They also provide technical and vocational school for their children to prepare them for jobs they wish to apply for in the future. Another way they help prepare them for job opportunities is by providing jobs at Selam’s restaurant. Many are able to work as waitresses at the villages public restaurant. Seeing the young women helping out and tending to tables reminded me of my first job. Many of y’all can relate to the first time you took on that job during school or maybe during summer. What experiences did you learn?

Another great NGO growing in Ethiopia is Bring Love In. Created and operated by Levi and Jessi Benkert, their mission is to bring love in to the orphans and widow of Ethiopia. So how does Bring Love In do it? First, the organization finds widows through local churches and pairs them up with an orphan. This pairing is called a Forever Family, and they have six to seven children matched to one mother. They also have a Keep One Home program, which allows a mother who is financially struggling to gain help. They currently have 150 families who are sponsored.

Salem Children’s Village and Bring Love In are both making a difference in their community by taking in those who need love and care. I know for me, I can always turn to my parents for unconditional love and look to them for guidance. Anytime I discuss my issues with them, I feel at ease and renewed. But how would I be doing without the help and advice of my parents? These two organizations allow orphans, and widows and mothers, to regain this family bond and share their love. Love is such a powerful language. It reinforces self-worth, creates unbreakable bonds, and connects us to one another on a spiritual level. Especially when show through ones actions rather than words, as I witnessed at Selam’s Children Village, love can become some pretty powerful stuff!

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