Ethiopia (MNN) — Bethany Christian Services’ successful foster care program in Ethiopia is growing. Currently, they serve in five cities and have a goal to expand their efforts to five more cities and place 1,000 children in loving, Christian homes by the end of 2023.
Their foster-to-adopt program began in 2010 and has already placed nearly 400 children into local homes.
Foster-to-Adopt in Ethiopia
“We basically believe that every child should be raised in a family and they need a family to belong to. The idea of taking care of children in childcare institutions has been there for a long time. It was one of the widely practiced form[s] of care for many years,” Bethany’s Sebilu Bodja says.
According to UNICEF, there are about 4.6 million orphaned or half-orphaned children in the nation. Children are often abandoned by their parents because they can’t afford to raise them. Other times, parents have passed away from diseases or the children have run away from home. Because of this, orphanages are packed and children receive little attention.
Before introducing Bethany’s foster-to-adopt program, it was unheard of in Ethiopia to take care of an unrelated child.
However, their program has raised awareness of the need. Through its satellite program, Bethany has worked to recruit families.
“It impacted the lives of children in such a way that now they have a family to call their own,” Bodja says.
“We have seen significant change in their development — whether that’s physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological — and we’ve seen children thriving in their new families. For the foster parents, what we keep hearing from many families is they have been able to see what God has called them to be as a family to a child.”
The individual care that children have received from families helps kids grow and develop. It helps them process previous trauma they have experienced and deal with their grief.
Change in Communities
Entire communities are also changing as foster care grows in their neighborhoods and they begin to understand the program more fully.
“Previously, there was an attitude among the community that caring for the children is more of a business of the Western; it’s a business of NGO[s],” Bethany’s Dawit Fekadu says.
Fekadu says communities’ attitudes have started to change. They are now becoming part of the solution and putting kids into safe foster homes.
Due to the success of the program, there are requests from the federal and regional governments to start programs in different communities. Bethany is also partnering with a state-run orphanage in Addis Ababa to help place children.
Bodja says both the orphanage and the government are relying on the program to give children a good family and home.
“The need is huge,” Fekadu says. “There is a greater need in every region of the country.”
With the Ethiopian government’s decision to end international adoption in 2018, this has increased the need for native families to rise up and become home to the ever-growing number of children in orphanages.
“We foresee that there is a huge potential for this program to grow in the future,” Fekadu says.
As Bethany expands their work — placing more children and expanding to more cities — they would love for you to partner with them!
It takes $1,000 to place a child in a loving, Christian family in Ethiopia. This will forever change the lives of children, families, and entire communities. Start supporting Bethany’s work in Ethiopia here.
Meanwhile, please pray for foster kids in Ethiopia to know their Heavenly Father. Ask God to reveal Himself to these children through their Christian foster parents. Finally, pray for more Ethiopian believers to rise up and be the love of Jesus through foster care.
Header photo courtesy of Bethany Christian Services.