As we look back on this past year, we are both humbled and joyful as we recall God’s power and glory illustrated through His transformation of beauty from ashes.
Remember… many months ago we shared about Belinesh and her new baby girl Berhan and their remarkable journey from darkness into light? Belinesh was a young girl, who had been orphaned and forced into prostitution. A year ago she found herself pregnant and without hope or a future.
By the grace of God she came to know the saving, loving, and gracious heart of Christ who had revealed Himself to her in the person of our doula Genet. Genet had taken Belinesh and Birhan in to her own home and family when they were most vulnerable and she taught this new mommy, Belinesh, how to become a mother.
It was during this pivotal time of her life that Belinesh wrote and sang the song, “The Lord who made me escape from death. I put Him as Lord and King over my life”.
Our Ethiopian staff knew that for Belinesh to heal and thrive as both a woman and a new mother, we had to help her leave the life of prostitution permanently. We helped enroll her in a wonderful program outside of Addis- a program which provides counselling and emotional, spiritual, and physical healing and restoration, along with job training, to women who desire to leave the bondage of prostitution. Despite not fitting the program’s acceptance criteria (they typically do not take women with infants younger than 6 months of age), God moved mountains and made a way, resulting in the gift of a new life full of opportunity and hope. The miracle proved to be even greater than just this single mother and her baby, because it was through the connections of Belinesh and our DHI doulas that we connected with four other women who we were also able to enroll in the program and who have now left the life of prostitution and daily experience the love and freedom that come from knowing the true Light of the World.
Remember… another Belienesh, mother of a 5 year old girl, pregnant with her second child? A hardworking entrepreneur, this woman was known for never accepting help from others, but instead always insisting that others in need receive the blessing. But when she found herself completely destitute and fearful for her little family and the unborn child in her womb, she had no choice but to accept help. Our doula Medhanet provided her with emotional and spiritual support and advocated that DHI provide her with a small business grant to help her gain back some independence. She has sense given birth to her sweet baby boy, Jonas (which means “God’s graciousness”), and now, thanks to that grant, she is able to care for her son and feed her family.
Remember… Emebet and Baby Betty. Betty was delivered on a Friday and immediately sent home from the hospital, despite signs of sepsis. Doula Genet visited Betty on Saturday and Sunday and insisted that despite the doctor having sent the baby home, something was not right. We listened to Genet and were able to get Betty care which literally saved her life. People from all over the world rallied for this young family, which encouraged our staff and volunteers, reminding us that we are not alone in this battle and vital work. Emebet is now doing well and participating in our childbirth education class, bringing sweet Betty to class with her each week.
Remember… Baby K whose mother senselessly died giving birth to her. Baby K proved to be a survivor and despite odds lived past the fragile first 28 days of life. However, nine months after her birth, the lack of precious breast milk and formula took its toll and we found ourselves rushing her to the hospital after discovering that she was frightfully sick with infection and severe chronic malnutrition. Once again, by the grace of God and through the tireless work of our staff, we were able to provide Baby K with proper medical treatment, and we are honored to share that today this sweet child is home with her extended family.
There are countless other stories, both of joy and of sadness.
This past year we have helped welcome life, and we have witnessed senseless death. We provided physical, emotional and spiritual support to these mothers and families as we walked with them in their suffering and pain. Despite the outcome, in every situation our commitment to this work – to the prevention of maternal and infant death through childbirth education and doula prenatal and postnatal services – was strengthened and solidified.
These stories we must not forget, for they are the reason we continue with this work each day.
We are told in Scripture to remember God’s faithfulness, so that in times of worry and trial we can recall His goodness and remain steadfast in our faith. Just like the Israelites who used “memorial stones”, we too must consciously build upon our own memories of His love and power, and share them as testimonies of our faith and our God.
Today we remember the wideness – the depth and the height- of God’s mercy and love. And we thank Him for the privilege of serving and loving these precious, valuable women and children in Ethiopia. It is only by His grace.