The last Friday when I was in Ethiopia I met a man that I will remember for the rest of my life. This was a kind man with a warm and giving heart, a man that tells me he can relate to the children of the slums, for he too grew up in Ethiopia.
Gebeyehu is living proof of what people can achieve when they believe in themselves and they are willing to work hard and make something of their lives. I do not know all the details of Gebeyehu’s life very well, I spent just a few hours with him. What I know is that he grew up in Ethiopia in difficult circumstances and he trained as a producer and later travelled to England to study for his postgraduate qualification, he then came back to Ethiopia and has worked for numerous humanitarian organisations doing work to fight for a better Ethiopia.
To be honest I don’t need to know too much about Gebeyehu, when you watch him relate to about one hundred young girls who all live in the Merkato slums in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia you know this man has a heart for his people. How important it is for these girls to hear empowering and uplifting words from a strong male role model. Many of these young female domestic workers (as young as 7 years old – gosh it breaks my heart) are experiencing gender based violence or GBV as they refer to it, so it is so important for them to be able to see someone like Gebeyehu lift them, even if just a fraction. Most men treat them entirely differently, respect was something they did not know was meant for them until they started to attend the Biruh Tesfa program run by the Population Council and funded by USAID.
Biruh Tesfa translates in Amharic to Bright Future and that’s exactly what these girls are encouraged to aspire to by attending the program. While at this basic three classroom project housed in the middle of the slums we had the privilege of having this awesome man translate when we went to visit the girls and as we asked him to give them messages of hope from us he went that bit further and showed them how to keep putting one foot in front of the other and to take those steps towards their goals. With passion he asked them ‘should we give up?’ and then informed them ‘no we shouldn’t!’. This room full of girls aged between 10 – 15 years were mature beyond their years, probably because of the chores and responsibility they have taken on for years but those uplifting and encouraging words must have meant the world to them. Gebeyehu’s female colleague told us that he was instructing the girls ‘that someone who cries all the time has no vision’ and that they must visualise their future and believe their dreams can happen.
Gebeyehu is ONE man, one relatively unknown man and yet he is having a positive effect on hundreds of vulnerable children. We can all be like Gebeyehu, that is what my walk with Christ and my work with the ONE campaign is teaching me. Every ONE person counts. We all impact people each day and by thinking it though first, we can make sure that impact is a positive one.
If I’m honest I get really fed up of cries of ‘why bother?’, ‘I can’t make a difference’ and the ‘problem is too big’. Thank goodness Ghandi, William Wilberforce and Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ himself did not just throw up their arms and say ‘well what can I do, I’m just ONE person?’.
I might not change the world on my own and the things I stand for may be different to those that really rock you but I can hold my head up high and say I’m trying. I’m fighting for a better world and I care about our world, about our people. About ONE people.
I don’t judge you if your passions are different to mine, I just pray that you feel some passion and that you are able to channel it, for apathy achieves nothing.
If your passion is similar to mine and you hate to see people living in poverty, then please do consider signing up to ONE and offering your voice. There are no catches, it is as simple as it seems. Every so often you’ll get an email from ONE and they’ll ask for your help – sign a petition to lobby Government, show your support on social media, write to your MP – that type of thing. You can choose to act on it or you can choose to bin it, I understand – different days, different things. Sometimes we have enough head space and time to deal with this and sometimes we don’t. I’m no different, I do not join in with every request of me, I just do what feels right.
Take it back 8 months ago and I had never heard of ONE, take it back 8 years ago I was not actively involved in trying to create a better world and take it back 18 years ago I had no idea why anyone would bother. Times change, people change. Thank the Lord.
I’ll leave you with the words of Gebeyehu shouted at the top of my voice – ‘Should we lose hope?, No we shouldn’t’.
Who is inspiring you today?
Takea peek at my giveaway post if you fancy winning a FahsionABLE scarf made in Ethiopia.