“If there was one thing I would do in my life, one thing I would commit my life for, it would be to raise my children,” said Tadelu a young mother in Ethiopia with two children who are deaf.
This proved to be extremely difficult. Several obstacles stood in her way.
Shortly after Tadelu got married—when she was only fifteen years old—she got pregnant. Her baby girl contracted measles and became deaf. One and a half years later she had a son who also became deaf from measles.
And this wasn’t all she had to deal with…
It wasn’t her fault
Tadelu’s husband blamed her for their children’s disability. Because there’s no deafness in his bloodline it must be her fault, he reasoned. He cast all three of them out of their house, disowned them, and refused to support them.
The legal system and her father-in-law also refused to help. She tried to go to her own father for support, but her step-mother was cruel to Tadelu and her children.
Determined to protect and provide for her children, Tadelu took Mestu by the hand, and carried Getu on her back and went into town, looking for work.
“I didn’t have a place to sleep or raise my children. So, I went to every home, washed their clothes, and prepared their food,” Tadelu said.
She earned a little money cooking injera, a sourdough-risen flatbread which requires considerable effort and time. At times she had to ignore the hunger cries of her children in order to do the work.
She often didn’t eat so that she could feed her children with the little money she had. And even then, it sometimes wasn’t enough. A local tailor agreed to sew clothing for free for her children. If he hadn’t of done that, they wouldn’t have clothes.
No school for the deaf
Mestu and Getu have a morning ritual.
Every morning Mestu and Getu took paper and any other materials they could find, and followed the other children to school.
But the school gates closed in front of them. They weren’t allowed in because they are deaf.
The other children ignored them or laughed at them.
Tadelu begged the government and the local administration several times to help her children. But they didn’t. “My dream is that one day my children will go to school like the other kids. And that they will be included in society,” she said.
Is that too much to ask?
Help is on the way
Then a community worker, Bizunesh Wakjira, found them and took them to Hope and Healing International’s partner in Addis Ababa. The doctor discovered the young children heard nothing. The measles badly damaged the nerves in their ears.
An expensive cochlear implant would help. But, even with this implant they would still need to learn sign language and lip reading. Hope and Healing International is committed to helping them.
Hope and Healing International will also give start-up capital to Tadelu for her business selling Arike (a traditional Ethiopian drink). She will become completely financially independent.
The biggest joy for this family is that Hope and Healing International will teach the local schools how to include Mestu and Getu . Their dream of going to school will be a reality.
Tadelu said, “What happened today is incredible for me. This is one of the best days…I have seen that my children have value, dignity and importance in this community. Look at everyone coming to see my children now that you’ve come and given us attention…”
For Tadelu, who has spent years struggling to have her neighbours acknowledge her children, the fact that they are included, cared for and shown that they are loved is glorious.
Through supporters like you, this family felt the love of Jesus.