By Lindsay Allen | Projects Manager: Americas Imagine for a moment that your child has a rare medical condition. Despite the difficulties, you would still love him and care for him to the best of your ability, right? You would make whatever sacrifices necessary to ensure your child’s health.
Now, continuing this same fictional story, imagine that you live in a rural village in Ethiopia. Your family lives in poverty, and you don’t have the money for medicine or treatments. Still, you do what you can, and you love your child immensely.
Now imagine that the people in your village believe this medical condition is a curse brought on your family by God, who is punishing you for some heinous sin in your life. The people are so afraid of this curse they are willing to murder your child. It seems unthinkable, doesn’t it? We can possibly empathize with having a sick child, and maybe even having limited resources, but having to protect your child from those who wish to end his life for something he had no control over is almost beyond our imagination.
Sadly, this is not uncommon in rural areas of developing countries.
For many like Gabriel’s family, this is not a fictional scenario. This is the real struggle he and his family face. Gabriel is an 8-year-old boy from a rural Ethiopian village. He was born with ambiguous gender or hermaphroditism as it is also known. Gabriel’s little brother was also born with this same condition. Such a diagnosis requires delicate, specialized care and surgery. Instead, those in authority decided that the best way to handle this “curse” was to simply end the child’s life. This was the tragic fate of Gabriel’s little brother.
Out of fear for Gabriel’s life, his parents took him and fled eight hours away to Addis Ababa, where they now live. Gabriel is one of the kids in the Home Based Care (HBC) program with Leku Keta Kale Heywet Church. Their US church partner, Pulpit Rock Church, recently met Gabriel on a Church Partnership trip. After hearing his story and learning of his diagnosis, the trip participants quickly decided that they would assist Gabriel’s family in getting him the care he needs by covering all medical expenses.
In the time since, Gabriel has had a chromosomal analysis to determine his gender genetically, and the test confirmed that he is a boy. In November, he underwent surgery, and the doctors said that he is doing very well. His future is looking brighter, but there are still many questions regarding his health, as he continues with testosterone treatments and other possible treatments and procedures.
Gabriel’s family needed emotional support, financial assistance, and medical care. They suffered the loss of a child, were ostracized by their village, and were forced to move to a new city. After so much pain and grief, they were welcomed into the loving arms of the Church. They are now being cared for and accepted, and Gabriel is receiving the medical attention he needs thanks to the generosity and love that has developed through church partnership. Where others saw a curse, the Church saw an opportunity for blessing.