Yesterday marked round two of painting for the team, another full day of work for sure. We took off in the morning for the Youth Rehabilitation Center, the same location we had visited last week to distribute brand new shoes to the kids there. Our goal was to add some fresh color and paint to the girl’s dorm room that day to brighten it up and also just to continue giving back to the youth and staff there who have little support and resources. The facility at the Youth Rehabilitation Center is really in great need. Many of the rooms there are worn down from heavy use over the past 50 years and the walls are covered in graffiti from the kids, sort of an open journal about their harsh outlook on life given their current circumstances. It’s hard to see kids living in this environment where there just aren’t enough resources for the staff there to ensure the youth have adequate stimulation, activities and opportunities. In turn, that deficiency really impacts the ability for the kids to also have a smooth and constructive transition out of the center when their court sentence is over.
We arrived at the center and were greeted by the girls (about 10 total) who almost immediately jumped in to help us paint and transform their dorm. Really the most fun part about the day for me was watching the girls get some quality time with people who really cared about them, to see them smile, joke around, sing pop songs and just be normal teenagers. Around midday we broke for lunch and the team purchased pizza and soda for all the girls and the staff in the dorm. It was just fun to hang out, to hear them laugh and to work side by side. Towards the end of the day Ginny and Kim started a little art project with their own kids and the girls at the center with some acrylic paints we had brought along. As time went on the girls took over painting some of their own designs, phrases or pictures on the wall. You could tell they just really enjoyed some time to creatively express themselves, something the social workers at the center have shared with us that they just never have the time or resources to provide for the kids. One of the phrases the girls wrote on the wall was “God is Love”….part of the phrase being in Amharic, the other part in English. That phrase along with their pictures was such a stark contrast to the hopeless phrases graffitied on their walls that we had brushed over earlier in the day. What a difference a little hope can make!
Today the team is taking a break to visit some other areas of the city and then will have a bit of shopping and more time at Hannah’s Hope before they head home. It has been a great trip and I’ve been glad to be a part of serving alongside them! Their heart for serving the people of Ethiopia has been so evident, especially in their quick connection to the people they meet and even the constant Amharic phrases they are working to learn in order to connect with those people. They are a very intentional group and I have loved getting to see the people they meet light up when they realize by their talk and by their actions how genuinely they care.