History doesn’t have to dictate the future

In rural Ethiopia, FH helps children born into extreme poverty break free from the cycle and write a new story for themselves and their communities. Here’s a story about one child who broke free….

Story by FH staff member Eileen O’Gorman

In the town of Belo Jeginfoy, in a western region of Ethiopia resides a group of people called the Gumuz. By appearance, the Gumuz people seem more Sudanese than Ethiopian. Their presence in Ethiopia is one reminder that the modern Ethiopia represents more than 80 different ethnic groups, each with its own culture and history.

Due to extreme poverty and a lack of access to education, only about 30 percent of Ethiopians over age 15 can read and write (World Bank).

FH began working among the Gumuz people more than 10 years ago and remains one of the only humanitarian organizations serving these people who are often viewed with animosity by more dominant groups in Ethiopia.

Today, the first generation of Gumuz children are going to school. In partnership with the local government and churches, FH serves more than 2,000 children and their families in the Belo area through child sponsorship. These once “hard to reach” children are not only learning to develop the minds that God has given them but also to know that God’s people around the globe care about their well-being.

Around the world, FH trains teachers, builds classrooms
and equips schools with supplies like desks, notebooks and pens.
(This photo was taken in Rwanda.)

FH partners with more than 10 schools in the Belo area by providing training for teachers. Over the past 10 years, enrollment in these schools has more than doubled in size. New schools have been opened, primary schools have been updated to secondary schools, and classrooms have been equipped with more than 1,000 desks.

FH also serves local church leaders through Bible training, a vital need in an area where many embrace Christianity but have had little access to fuller Christian teaching.

Biniam Mengesha, a former FH sponsored child from the area and now a university student, remembers when FH staff first began to develop a relationship with his family. Biniam was raised by his mother who earned about 200 Ethiopian birr a year through farming (approximately $20). His brothers also helped support the household as they struggled to meet daily needs.

Biniam says that as staff members gained a connection with his family and grew to know him better, they asked him, “Biniam, what do you want to be?”

As Biniam progressed in school, he saw his aptitude in mathematics and his vision for his future grow. He has gone on to major in accounting at Bahar Dar University, a state university, and became active in a campus Christian fellowship.

He has aspirations not to make a big name for himself or even to build a career in the city. Instead, Biniam wants to serve the Gumuz people who live in even more remote locations than where he grew up.

“I want to be a model for them to show them what is possible.
I have a mission,” Biniam says.

Even as he works toward the fulfillment of his vision, Biniam already inspires the children in his village who look up to him. Just like Biniam, many children today who have stood on the periphery of Ethiopian society are receiving and giving a message of hope.