This is Ma'arig and her three children, along with her nephew Kalid in 2011. We visited her in her home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July of that year. Ma'arig was living in the basement of a new home in the Kore (Kor-aye) area, along with her husband (who has subsequently left her. He allegedly drank away his paycheck, and was displeased with having to take care of his nephew). You can see the desperation on her face in this photo. She cried and told us that her husband, a day laborer, only made scant birr (Ethiopian dollars) per day, while she cooked food for other families. "I cook for for others, but I don't have enough to cook for my own family," she cried. Fast forward to 2014. A couple weeks ago, while walking up the road form the Transformation Love (TL) office in Kore, I was explaining to my Ethiopian companion and TL accountant Sammy, on why I come to Kore all the way from America.
As Sammy and I were on our way to Hiwot and Shewaye's house to visit for a bit before heading to the seminary, we're walking up the road and I tell him, "You know, some people are confused as to why I'm doing what I'm doing here--"
Here is Ma'arig and Kalid today:
They are both doing well, and Kalid is growing like a weed. He's doing very well in school and is also following Christ. Ma'arig also is following Christ, though there may be some syncretism from her Islamic background.
During our visit, I told Ma'arig (now 38 years old) that she looked like my own mother when she was young, but with darker skin. She has nearly the exact same Semitic-shaped nose as my own mother, and the size, placement and shape of her eyes also bear a striking resemblance to my own mom. Ma'arig replied that "I used to be white, but taking care of these four children has made my skin dark!" Amidst the laughter I pondered the cultural import of this statement, and asked Alemseged, the academic dean at the college and seminary, what this meant. He said it means that when an Ethiopian says this, it refers to the hard way of life a person lives. "Dark skin" refers not to the actual color of the skin and its melanoma levels, but rather the lines or blemishes in one's skin due to the stress of life. Ma'arig is a hearty woman, well-spoken, and very funny. She is very thankful for the sponsorship ministry of Transformation Love, for without it, she would not have enough money for food, school supplies, and other essentials for life. She makes about 400 birr per month doing laundry and making baskets, and other day-labor tasks.
And my, how Kalid is a mature young man, and growing up handsome and strong with hope in his heart!
For more information about how you can help others in need in the Kore area of Addis Ababa, visit Transformation Love's website here.