Sometimes it is good to be reminded how good you have it. That’s why it was important to me to take my 7-year-old to the boys’ orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Blake needed to see what some other boys have to endure. In fact, that would have been his new brother’s fate, had he not been adopted in time.

Sometimes it is good to be reminded how good you have it.

That’s why it was important to me to take my 7-year-old to the boys’ orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Blake needed to see what some other boys have to endure. In fact, that would have been his new brother’s fate, had he not been adopted in time.

There is room for about 150 boys to live comfortably at Kolfe. Unfortunately, there are almost 300 boys there now. That means more food is needed. More firewood is needed to cook the food. And more room is needed for the boys to live and sleep.

But Kolfe has been in this location for years, and there won’t be any capital expenditures on more buildings or beds anytime soon. In fact, one abandoned room has been brought back into operation. There are about two-dozen beds for the 50 older boys who sleep there. Some sleep when others wake up. Some just sleep on the floor. In the barracks for the younger boys, several children are forced to share twin-sized beds to have a place to lay their heads.

The boys each get about $100 U.S. dollars per year to purchase clothing and bedding. It doesn’t go far. Their clothes are washed and hung to dry on bushes that resemble cedar trees inside the compound. But in the rainy season, drying clothes can take time. Not having different clothes to change into becomes an issue.

We knew that the boys had a soccer area on the premises, so Blake and I took five new soccer balls from a local store when we went for a tour.
We were early, so we killed time by playing some soccer with the boys.
You could tell they were glad to have visitors and new balls because they made sure Blake scored a goal, and several raised their hands in the air to celebrate with him. He really connected with a few of them.

Then we saw their rooms and talked about how difficult it was for the boys to be so crowded with no parents and few caretakers to help them with their daily needs.

Blake was shocked to see the scalp and hooves of a sheep that recently made the transition from pet to main course.

We also met a young man named Dawit, which is the same name as our new son. In Ethiopia, Dawit is a common name. It is the Amharic version of David, and many boys are named for King David from the Old Testament. David’s son Solomon had a child with the Queen of Sheba –– a kingdom that included what is now Ethiopia. That child became the royal lineage in Ethiopia for generations. Thus, Dawit and Solomon are very popular names.

Dawit told us he was 23 years old. He had lived at Kolfe since he was 14. He has completed high school and two years of college. He needed one more year to complete his coursework to be able to become a lab technician at one of the local hospitals.

But our adoption agency was running the scholarship program that paid the transportation, room and books for the older boys who got good grades and were positive role models for the younger boys.

For those not in the program, they are kicked out of the orphanage on their 18th birthday with 5,000 birr (about $295). That money will last them maybe a week or two, and that just covers food and other daily expenses, but certainly not housing. If they don’t find a good job immediately, they are left with few positive choices.

But there is hope for those in the scholarship program. Unfortunately, that program is one of many that have been victimized by the government’s decision to decimate international adoptions. With about 90 percent fewer adoptions, there is less money available for every program supported by adoption fees.

Thus, Dawit had been told there would be no money available for him to finish his final year of school. Luckily, he recently found out that someone in the United States had donated money to help him get through his final year. That donation gives him hope that he can make it out and make a living.

I told him people in the states love him because they know God loves him, and they want the boys at Kolfe to have hope for a better future. I reminded Dawit that, if he gets a good job, he needs to find a way to help some of the Kolfe boys, since someone had gone out of their way to help him.

He just smiled a big smile, hugged me and said, “Yes sir.”

There aren’t many success stories at the orphanages operated by the government in Addis Ababa. They are overcrowded, under funded and dispirited. But a donation has given hope to one boy there.

Those stories are rare, but they do exist, and everyone involved in adding support for these facilities shares the hope that those success stories will become a foundation on which to build a better future for the children there.