Orphanage forges through delays and economic crisis

By August 11, 2011

Ethiopia (MNN) — Despite harsh tides of political and economic issues, Bethany Christian Services has nearly emptied an orphanage in Addis Ababa of central Ethiopia.

Their last two orphans from Yezelalum Minch, a partner orphanage, have been placed with families and are just waiting to finish the processing.

This is incredible, considering the forces of change happening outside of their control. Since March 10, Ethiopian authorities cut their number of reviewed adoption cases from 50 per day down to 5 per day, as earlier reported. Outcries were heard as parents feared this would slow their adoption process.

Bethany's Sara Ruiter, International Services Coordinator for Africa, says, "The process itself has slowed down a bit because of these additional layers that have been implemented. But our agency continues to process adoptions and continues to accept families into our program."

From the standpoint of increasing economic issues, the price of food in Ethiopia has jumped by 50%. Surrounded by countries crippled in drought and famine, people of Ethiopia have tons of food but find it more difficult to buy now.

Both issues were faced head-on. Yezelalum Minch works in a microbusiness approach to reconcile the food crisis. Women in the community cook food twice a week for hundreds of children in the orphanage's feeding program. These women are able to make a living and fill the hungry stomachs of kids and families in need.

And despite new process requirements, the orphanage has forged ahead to find loving homes for the orphans. Yezelalum Minch has partnered with Bethany since 2008. When the partnership was first formed, Yezelalum Minch was very focused on institutionalized care for Ethiopian orphans.

Ruiter explains when they first entered the picture with Yezelalum Minch, "They had a few sort of group homes where they had probably about 20 kids…with house parents. But sort of how Bethany sees that [is] it's still institutional care in the sense that these kids don't have a family of their own."

Getting these kids into forever families became the goal. Ruiter states, "Probably by the end of this year, those group homes will be completely empty of those children. Yezelalum Minch is now very focused and committed to serving their community."

The orphanage is now developing programs such as orphans and vulnerable children support, social transfer programs, and funding for school fees and supplies. Staff members with Yezelalum Minch are also being trained to set up a foster care program in working with families from local churches.

In Bethany's entire mission, the Gospel is crucial. "Everything [the orphanage] does is very much centered on bringing honor and praise to God and really taking it seriously when He tells us to care for orphans and widows," says Ruiter.

As Bethany Christian Services works with Yezelalum Minch, they hope these orphans will grow in the knowledge of their Lord and Savior while experiencing the joy of belonging to a family. Pray for smooth transition as the orphanage moves on to minister to the community in Christ's name.

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