Unforgettable moments, inspirational villages humble Ethiopia sponsor

World Vision child sponsor Shelley Heriot visited her sponsored child in Ethiopia with her own three sons. As you also sponsor a child in Ethiopia, we thought you might like to hear about her trip.

World Vision has been a part our lives for the past 11 years and has taught us something of what it’s like to be useful in this world, to love another child, a child that does not belong to you, a child in need. The most recent was Berite, an eight-year-old girl from Ethiopia.

There is something exciting about stepping off a plane into the unknown and breathing your first breath of air in another country. After completing some paperwork and meeting with staff at the National Office, we felt as though they actually knew us and were genuinely grateful for our contribution, however small.

To learn and see for ourselves where our few annual letters end up and to meet the people who actually translate them filled me with joy and gave the whole idea of child sponsorship a sense of ‘realness’.

Heading south into the rural areas the trucks disappeared and were replaced by donkeys. I remember thinking to myself, ‘these people are so poor, they have nothing’.

Driving further south of Hawassa the next morning, we were on our way. This was it. The moment we had dreamt about. We are actually going to meet this little girl today. How would she be feeling? Would she be nervous? Excited perhaps? Has she even seen ‘white’ people before? At that moment our driver began to take a turn off the main road and into the vast and rural surrounds of the southernmost part of Ethiopia. The roads became even more rough, and yet the village children in all their rags and filth would continue to wave and smile great big happy smiles. Of joy? Perhaps.

A few moments later the car completely stopped. I looked ahead and all I could see was dense forest. “This is where you get out and walk,” our driver said in his broken English.

A tall, slightly scruffy looking man appeared from nowhere. “This is Berite’s father.” I melted. His eyes met mine and I shook his warm hand. “This way,” he said.

With each step I took I prayed that we would be welcomed by Berite’s family. I had nothing to worry about. As we approached a small yet clean grass-roofed hut, a small, fragile young girl was presented before us. “This is Berite,” we were told. I already knew. Our eyes met and I reached out my arms to her. She hesitantly took my hands and out of politeness, embraced me. It happened so quickly that I barely had time to speak or introduce my family or myself. My mind was jumbled as the chaos surrounded me. All I wanted to do was not take my eyes off beautiful Berite. Her lovely face said it all, unsureness, nervousness, shyness and thankfulness. I wanted to grasp this memory in both my hands. And that’s just what I did. I will never forget this moment.

I have come to understand that maybe I was not meant to adopt a child for myself, but to adopt a community. This is my focus now. Not one child but a whole village.