What could be going through a mother’s mind as she makes the decision to give away her daughters?
What does giving away small children to be raised by people you don’t know feel like?
How can a mother choose which of her children to keep and which ones to give away?
Shortly after Bizuayehu lost her husband, she cried daily before God. She was suddenly left to raise three young children ages 1 to 3 by herself. Bizuayehu had never worked in her life, and the family depended on the harvest from the small plot of land they owned. Bizuayehu’s prayers in the days following her loss focused on begging God to take her as he took away her husband or take her children away so she wouldn’t see them starve to death. Bizuayehu was vulnerable and desperate for any kind of help or advice.
“God seemed distant at that time. I had nothing to give my children and no one to turn to. They needed food, clothing and education. My relatives advised me to give away my children so they could be well taken care of. I had never entertained that thought, but as the days went by, I found myself considering the idea,” she said.
Bizuayehu was forced to decide the unimaginable. She chose to keep her oldest daughter, Marshet, with her and give away her two youngest daughters to two different families in the rural village far from her town. Almost two years passed before Bizuayehu felt hopeful again. The rumor in the community about an organization that had come to support children revived her faith. Bizuayehu wished and prayed that Marshet would be one of the children who would get the opportunity to join the organization. She considered it a prayer answered when one morning the community and church leaders knocked on her door to inquire about Marshet. Marshet was registered in the Child Sponsorship Program (CDSP) in Chuko Mulu Wongel Believers’ Church when she was almost 5 years old. She joined school, and her mother committed her time to making sure that she attended all the program activities in the project.
“The support was the answer to my prayers. I was not only mourning my husband but also my two daughters I had to give away. Marshet’s sponsorship brought hope in my life, which in turn started to heal my heart. She was provided with everything she needed: clothing, food, school supplies and medical access. I praised God for His intervening hand and I trusted Him for my daughters’ future,” Bizuayehu said.
When Marshet’s sponsor, Scott Conine, sent the first family gift of about 2000 birr ($85.15 USD), Bizuayehu wept joyfully. As she left the church compound with the gift, she made up her mind that it was time to bring back her daughters. Bizuayehu and her daughters were reunited after two years of separation. Marshet and her sisters embarked on a new journey with the help of the family gifts Marshet’s sponsors started sending regularly. The family renovated their house and was able to build four separate rooms to rent. They also bought two cows to generate more income. Moreover, Marshet’s sisters got the opportunity to go to school and have a normal childhood just like their big sister.
“Ever since Marshet’s sponsor came into our lives, my daughters have never felt fatherless. God has been faithful, and he provided for us in a way I never thought was possible. I pray day and night for [Marshet’s sponsors] and bless them whenever I see my daughters smile,” Bizuayehu said. “My daughters never lacked anything. My daughters grew up being equal with those who have fathers. I cry whenever I think about what would have become of my daughters away from me. It’s because of God’s intervening hand through Compassion and the sponsors that I got to raise my daughters and not someone else I never knew. I praise God for bringing them into our lives.”
Marshet wants to study medicine and serve those who can’t afford medical care in her community. She is determined to make her sponsor proud.
“My sponsor has raised me up like one of his children so far,” Marshet said. “We never slept on a bed before, but because of my sponsors, we have a bed and everything else we need in the house. I want to repay what he did for my family by becoming successful. I believe that he will continue supporting me until he sees my success.”
Bizuayehu and her daughters have nothing but words of blessing whenever they speak of Marshet’s sponsors. Marshet treasures every letter and picture she receives from them. It is their wish to see them face-to-face one day.