As a single parent, Emebet’s mother struggled to support her two children in Korah, Ethiopia. Due to circumstances beyond her control, Emebet was sent to work as a servant at the age of 14. Emebet’s opportunities for education were always limited, so she was unable to complete even a year of formal education. Often life for children surrounding the trash dump is without hope, as children fall into the same patterns of poverty that their parents experienced.
In 2019, Open Schools Worldwide partnered with Beyond Borders and Brook Hills Development Organisation (BHDO) to start a project to provide a basic education, along with two meals a day. When Emebet’s mother heard about the school program, she asked if her son could join. However, on opening day, Emebet showed up instead of her brother. “We didn’t even know who she was. She said that she was joining in place of her brother, so we accepted her instead of her brother, since we couldn’t take any additional children, due to the limited space,” said Toi Mears, Ethiopia Director of Open Schools Worldwide.
Toi has been working in Ethiopia for the past seven years, dividing her time between the United States and Ethiopia. Toi’s involvement has opened the door to adopt three Ethiopian children who still live in Ethiopia. The pandemic has disrupted Toi’s travels, but she and her husband, Troy, were able to visit last month and connect with ministry partners and her children whom they love.
On Toi’s recent trip she was able to visit Emebet’s mother. “She told me that things had been really hard because of the pandemic, and that the family was struggling. They couldn’t beg or work at the dump as much. To help her family, Emebet had volunteered to leave the Open Schools Worldwide education program and go back to being a servant. Her mother decided to fast and pray for three days and after the third day she told Emebet that she wanted her to continue studying. They were going to trust God to continue to provide for them.”
Toi shared, “I was really surprised to hear this. I didn’t know that Emebet’s mother had become a Christian. Our staff at BHDO and Beyond Borders are amazing at discipling families, and they may have discipled her directly or Emebet could have told her mother the gospel. Either way, I was excited to hear this. It has been so difficult to be stuck in the United States. I have so many people whom I love in Ethiopia. Through this and a number of other stories, I felt like God was giving me little hugs, and saying ‘Don’t worry. While you are gone, I am still working.’ This was just what I needed to hear to keep me going.”
As Toi told Emebet’s mother that Open Schools was starting a second program in Korah this year with room for her son to join the program, Emebet’s mother burst into tears thanking God. Her son would now get an education and meals. God was already providing for her needs! “This is a huge deal for those, like her, who live in extreme poverty. To know that another child will be getting fed and receive an education takes a lot of weight off her as a single mother,” Toi explained.
Open Schools Worldwide currently has 18 children in the program at Korah that started last year and is working to start two new programs this year. The second program will also be at Korah for 11 children from the trash dump community, and another at Chirkos, Addis Ababa, to support street children. Open Schools Worldwide is grateful for Toi’s love for marginalized children and how, through God opening doors, we are able to provide life changing education to more and more children in Ethiopia.