Ethiopia is a beautiful land-locked country almost twice the size of Texas. The country terrain consists of mostly high plateau with a central mountain range divided by the Great Rift Valley.
75 million people live in Ethiopia, most living in the central highlands. According to some official statistics, over 65% of the Ethiopian population live below poverty level. The average per capita income in Ethiopia is around $870 USD. This income cannot begin to meet the cost-of-living needs of a family.
High death rates caused by AIDS, inadequate medical care, and unsanitary living conditions have added another layer of stress on the already precarious family institution of the poor.
There are over 5 million orphaned children in Ethiopia, and almost one million of these have been orphaned through HIV/AIDS. UNICEF data states there are more than 300,000 orphaned children living on the streets nationwide with 100,000 in Addis Ababa alone. The average age at which children begin living on the streets in Ethiopia is 10 years old, but 20% of the street children are under the age of five.
The House of Joy (Mana Gammachuu)
Adoption Ministry of YWAM–Ethiopia designed a ministry in Ethiopia that cares for orphans and the desperately poor and needy. In 2009, their first home opened its doors to care for orphaned children and aging widows. The only prerequisite for admission to their program is complete destitution. There can be no one else in the community to care for them. Two years later they pioneered three new centers in the western part of Ethiopia where there were no social services for pregnant women or orphans.
In all the towns of Ethiopia where they have centers, care is also extended to some of the poorest living in the community through a sponsorship and feeding programs. The children brought to the centers are either full orphans or children whose parent or guardian is unable to care for them due to extreme poverty or ill health. Each one has requested an adoption plan. Ranging in age from newborn to eleven years old, the children are given thorough medical examinations that include testing for HIV, hepatitis, TB and venereal diseases. The children are then prepared to be legally adopted either in Ethiopia or into the USA.
The House of Joy has gained an outstanding reputation with Ethiopian officials. The governmental agencies dealing with women and children are sending many babies, and children to be cared for in their facilities.