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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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Jeremy and Bedlu, Ethiopia

Having sponsored Bedlu for over 14 years, Jeremy and his brother Michael travelled from Australia to meet him in person. This is Jeremy’s story.

Myself and my brother Michael recently went to Ethiopia to visit my sponsored child Bedlu. We arrived at Debri Berhan at around 10am, where we were met by Terefe. Debri Berhan is 130kms north of Addis Ababa and is where Bedlu boards and attends school during the week (going home on weekends).

Our first stop was Debri Berhan Adventist School. The grounds of the school were quite bare, but all the students had a wave and a welcoming smile for us. At first I could not see Bedlu amongst the other students and only recognised him when he walked over to us with his Principal. He was initially quite shy and let his principal do most of the talking. New classrooms are currently being constructed with the assistance ChildFund, so I could see the impact my sponsorship was making to the community straight away.

We were invited to meet some of the students, and after some prompting from their teacher, the questions began to flow. Most wanted to know about life in Australia, the country itself and about the animals, especially kangaroos. After leaving the school, we headed to the North Shoa coordination office. Here we were met by Endale the project coordinator. Endale took us through the project’s history and outlined the many plans for the future. This was a surprisingly rewarding part of the day, to see my contributions being put to such good use and to see with my own eyes the passion and dedication the staff have for their work.

We then drove on to Bedlu’s village in Keyit, some 15kms from his school. I was overcome with how welcoming his family were, given their humble life. Bedlu’s grandmother welcomed us with hugs and blessings, as did the other family members. We immediately felt like part of the family. Spending around an hour with the family was very special, each learning a bit more about each other and enjoying a few laughs.

Unfortunately, our day had to come to an end around 3pm, and after driving back to Debri Berhan we said farewell to Bedlu. After 14 years of sponsoring Bedlu this was a hard moment to shake hands and say goodbye after just a few hours. I felt, however, that both of us know each other so much better because of this day and look forward to our next letters. To know that my sponsorship has assisted that cute little two-year-old with a Mohawk haircut and a tear on his cheek to grow into a polite and handsome young man facing a brighter and prosperous future was incredibly rewarding.

The following day we went to the National office in Addis Ababa to meet the staff. Genet and Alem showed us around and I saw what happens to the correspondence letters and other procedures within the office. We had the opportunity to meet the national director and other staff whom were all very welcoming. I commend them all on their great work. Going to Ethiopia and meeting Bedlu and his family has been one of the highlights of my life and something I would highly recommend to other sponsors.

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