Earlier this year, Holt donor relations director LaDonna Greiner traveled to Ethiopia with a team of medical doctors from the U.S. Over a week, the doctors treated patients at medical clinics in the Shinshicho-Durame region of southern Ethiopia. While there, they also visited families Holt supports in the area through our family preservation program. Here, LaDonna shares the story of one family they met, and how Holt is helping to strengthen their circumstances for a brighter, healthier future.
by LaDonna Greiner, Holt Director of Donor Relations
Could you survive in a home that is collapsing around you? Atura* and her two daughters, Aselefech* and Aregash*, live in the home pictured here.
We travel over rough dusty roads and cattle paths to reach this rural region of Kebata. As we walk toward the home, we are met by two beautiful young ladies and their mother. The girls, Aselefech and Aregash, greet us with big smiles and a joyful presence. They are standing in front of a dilapidated hut. Thinking this is the barn, I ask the social worker, “Where is their home?”
I’m shocked to learn they live in this crumbling abode. One side of the hut has fallen in to the point that the roof nearly touches the ground. The mud stucco has broken away in many places — how cold it must be on windy nights. To enter the home, we must crouch down and lean sideways. But once inside, we notice the home is clean and neat. Atura and her daughters are making the best of their difficult living conditions. If you can overlook the broken timbers and collapsing wall, it looks like a typical southern Ethiopian home.
Outside their disintegrating home sits a stack of poles destined to be the beginning of Atura’s new house. It saddens my heart to see the living conditions of this happy family. I feel the urgent need to gather the group and begin building a new home. How can we allow a family to live in these conditions? Then I learn that Atura’s family is new to Holt’s family preservation program.
I remind myself that all things take time.I visit with Aselefech and Aregash about school. Aselefech is 10 years old and likes studying science best; she is in third grade. Fourteen-year-old Aregash is in fifth grade and her favorite subject is Ahmaric — the language spoken in Ethiopia. The social worker tells me their father abandoned the family several years ago, leaving Atura to care for the girls alone.
Holt is helping Atura improve her family’s health and sanitation habits and equipping her with stronger parenting methods. Holt also gave the family a cow. The cow has not only improved the family’s nutrition, but any leftover milk, butter and cheese can be sold at market – providing income to buy other critically needed items. The health of this family has improved. With full tummies and school supplies from Holt, the girls can focus on their education and improve their future.
This may not seem like much, but for a family on the verge of breaking up, it is a lifesaver.
* names changed to protect the family’s privacy