(Photo courtesy of Bethany Christian Services)
Ethiopia (MNN) ― Ethiopia sees families and children in desperate need, with 30% of the population living below the poverty line and 150,000 orphans on the streets of its capital city, Addis Ababa.
Sponsorships do help, but a lot of sponsorship programs only focus on the need of one child at a time, even if they’re in a family.
Michigan-based Bethany Christian Services is stepping up their game with a whole new kind of sponsorship campaign. Their “One Family” campaign not only gathers sponsorship support for individual orphan children, but also identifies whole families in need.
Jennifer Dibble, Sponsorship Director for Bethany, says, “Most sponsorship programs are typically focused on a one-on-one relationship between a sponsor and the child. The Bethany sponsorship program is focused on lifting up the entire family, regardless of how many siblings and parents are involved in the family.”
This “One Family” campaign is the first of its kind for Bethany, running on a sister-city system. Over this month of June, the focus is raising support in Knoxville, Tennessee for orphans and families in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“There is an incredible need in [Ethiopia],” says Dibble. “Not to say that there isn’t a need in other countries, but we saw that as a really dramatic need, and we wanted to approach that country first.”
Since the kick-off of the Knoxville “One Family” efforts last week, Bethany has doubled the size of their Ethiopia sponsorship program.
“During that week, we saw just a tremendous amount of support from the community. But what we believe happened in Knoxville last week was like an earthquake. It was an awakening of this community,” says Dibble.
One “share” of support costs $30 per month. One Ethiopian family may need several shares of support to lift them out of their current situation. Sponsorship provides a child or family with food, shelter, school fees, and even job training as needed.
Sponsorship also gives families and kids a chance to experience the love of Christ and the Gospel. “First and foremost, Bethany Christian Services is here to manifest the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting and enhancing the lives of children and families through quality social services,” Dibble emphasizes. “We bring that through the interaction with families and also through the employees that are working with us.”
But each “One Family” campaign isn’t just for residents of the U.S. city in focus. According to Dibble, “Knoxville is where the campaign was centered, but we’re inviting people around the United States to join that campaign as well.”
Bethany currently works in 20 different countries and has sponsorship programs in 8 of those countries. Their Knoxville “One Family” campaign will run through the end of this month, and Bethany is planning a second “One Family” campaign for October 2012. They will be partnering the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan with Chichicastenango, Guatemala.