For those of you who don't know how FAYA came about here is my story.
Megan Dyck (Nee Emann)
In May of 2007 I traveled to
with my sister to pick up her twin babies. It was a very quick trip, travelling there and back within only a week, but even within that short time Ethiopia changed my life, and left me knowing I would need to go back to help at some point. Ethiopia
In 2008 I was enrolled to attend Capernwray
Bible College in . The few months before I was scheduled to go, I kept feeling God on my heart, leading me a different way. The more and more I prayed and thought about it I realized I could do so much more with my time and money I was going to spend on tuition. I was being called back to Australia , just not 100% sure at that point for what reason. I researched many organizations to go give give my time to, and eventually decided I would go to Ethiopia Ethiopia for one month and venture to for one month as well, volunteering what I had to offer to Orphanages already set up and running. Uganda
But when I arrived in
and was there for a week or so I realized this still was not enough, since I was only spending a few hours in a morning or so teaching English or Bible classes to kids. I felt since I was all the way across the world I wanted to be full time with children, really impacting and changing their lives! Ethiopia
It was around this point that I got a phone call and a visit from a friend I had met the last time I was in
. Sintayehu Habtemariam had worked with the adoption agency my sister had used, and we had kept in touch since I had mentioned I hoped to return. He approached me with a request for help. His sister Meseret Demissie a nurse who had also worked for the adoption agency and himself had successfully accomplished the process of obtaining a license for an HIV Positive and HIV negative Orphanage. This was a very tedious process which took over a year, and now they had the legalities figured out, had a house to rent, children lined up to bring in, all they needed was the funds to furnish the house, clothes and food to feed the children and be able to pay the bills and caregivers. Ethiopia
Sintayehu & I enjoying a meal together at the orphanage.
Hannie a caregiver, me, and Meseret spending some fun time together.
WOW! This was defiantly something to call home about! I was a 21 year old woman in a foreign country where I did not speak the language, and was by myself so I had a little fear this was a huge undertaking, but how could I turn down this amazing chance to help change children's lives? I was there trying to spread God's love... I would say this was what He had sent me there for, this was that something good for my personal savings to go to & all my raised money instead of being selfish and spend it on tuition.
Children around the area.
On August 17, 2008 we brought our first 4 children into the orphanage in
. (Also known as Adama, Ethiopia , depending on who is the governing body at the time.) It is located 99 kilometers south east of the capital city Addis Abeba, but takes about two hours to get there by car or mini bus. Nazareth
Beautiful Acacia Tree on your way.
It is a warmer climate than Addis, since it's elevation is much lower, which is nice for us Canadian's to visit, but the sun is hot and dangerous for those who have to live and work in it all day.
We had a rented house, in a good area, with 2 bedrooms, a very large eating/living room, kitchen and bathroom in the main house, and an office and storage area, another kitchen and an outside type bathroom in the back part of the house.
It was a gated compound with a huge mango tree in the front, a decent amount of room for the children to play outside and a hired guard for the area.
Meseret named had named the Orphanage FAYA—which is actually pronounce Fi-ya, after her 10 year old daughter, who once told Messi that when she grew up, she wanted to have a home for kids who were sick, or their parents were sick and they needed a home to come and not have to be all alone.
Meseret & her daughter Faya.
Meseret’s passion also came from working in the transition home for an adoption agency and seeing all the healthy HIV negative babies and children getting adopted, but feeling horrible for all the sick or HIV positive children who would not get the same chances to go to a better home.
Inside our courtyard, a caregiver washed all the shoes & set them in the sun to dry.
Each one of the children’s situations was different as they came into FAYA, some had a living Mother or Father or Grandparent, but they were either sick or unable to care for the children. At this point all 4 of the children that came to call FAYA their home were HIV positive, but throughout the time I was there and over the past 2 years there have been many children come through the Orphanage that were HIV negative. The plan was to help with the HIV/Aids crisis, helping the children who were in the worst situations and whom we could make a difference in their lives the most.
As the children started to call FAYA their home it was slow going to fully get the place furnished and running up to my Canadian standards. The only clothes I had that seem to fit them were boy clothes, and they were all girls, but none of them cared, since to have new clean clothes was more than they knew. Since at the beginning we did not have toys or furniture, the girls would play with whatever I had on me, like my watch, or my bandanna's for hours.
Getting the love and affection they craved along with a shower, food for their tummies, and a bed and blankets just for them helped them to transform in to happy playful children within a couple days of being in the Orphanage. It was amazing to witness this transformation! When the children would come into the Orphanage they were very sad, and dirty and would not speak to anyone or want to play like children do, but literally within two days for sure they were happy-go-lucky, getting to be kids running around and playing, just like kids should get to be!
Meseret's daughter Faya & I.
A caregiver, Gannet, teaching English to the kids.
As the word spread at home in
Canada about what we were doing in many Adoptive parents who were coming over to pick up their children came stocked with bags and bags of donations! Everything from formula and milk to toys and books, clothes, blankets, medications and diapers! Many went and purchased beds, cribs, or food while they were visiting, and also brought money from fundraising they had done back home before they came! Family, friends and people who did not even know me were all coming together to help these children, and many more children who will come through the orphanage, it was an amazing sight to see, I felt so blessed to have the chance to be involved, and to have so many people coming together to get involved and help out! Ethiopia
It came time for me to travel to
as I had planned to volunteer there, but now we had the Orphanage up and running so I felt I needed to stay and spend all my time there! I grew so close to the children, as I lived at FAYA house for three months with them, as new kids continued to come in, I prayed we would be able to get enough financial support from people at home so we could continue to give these children their basic needs! Uganda
I felt as though they were part my child, taking them for hospital visits, playing with them, reading to them, sharing God's word with them, helping to feed them, clothe them, putting them to bed at night. Needless to say when my three months were up and it was time for me to return home it was very emotional and hard for me to leave them all. There were eleven children that came into FAYA while I was there, and they all have a piece of my heart! I praise God that many of these children have been adopted to
Canada or the USA or , both HIV positive and negative!!! Sweden
If you are not aware of the facts of HIV/Aids, you should know that children who live in developing nations have a much shorter life expectancy, since AIDS has become the leading cause of death among adults aged 15-44 in the region, not to mention the Infant Mortality rate of: 78.99 deaths/1,000 live births in Ethiopia. But someone who has HIV in
Canada, the or any part of the western world will have the same life expectancy as you or I will! Within the last few years they have started to use antiretroviral drugs, which the government IS paying for. They are not the same ones we use in US , but at least they are something, hopefully giving the children an opportunity to grow up and live full lives! Coffee Ceremony at the orphanage. Canada
In addition to the actual orphanage itself, we also started an outreach program in the surrounding community Wonji. This program’s purpose was to keep children with any family member who could look after them, but just needed a little extra help financially. While I was there we stated the sponsorship program for four families, bringing them material items each month in order to aid with their raising of the sponsored child.
Here is a family from Canada who is sponsoring a family in Wonji. The baby girl was the one to get sponsored, when I first met her she was 9 months old and had never eaten any food, only drank water. She was so tiny she looked like a newborn, but this Canadian family changed her life and the life of her whole family!
For example, each month a family may get Teff flour to make their Injera (their staple bread in which they eat with anything else), powdered milk for the children, and school costs taken care of. This way the child is not being taken away from any family or friends they live with and the life they know to be put into an institution to be raised, which will have the most positive effects on the child and the fmaily.
Fancy Injera baskets.
While at FAYA I grew very close to not only all the children, but the caregivers as well, as we spent every day together with the kids. I would love to post many pictures of the children from FAYA Orphanage, but it is against the law of the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs in Ethiopia to display pictures of children in an Orphanage on the internet, as it is exposing them to the world, against their rights. We are allowed how ever to use the pictures for our own fundraising use, so I hope to use them in a slideshow at an upcoming event, especially since they are all so cute!!