Strong Families Care Center is a mission of Christ Church in Mequon, WI and operates under Strong Hearts Ethiopia. The center provides a safe, nurturing place for children during the day so their mothers can work to support their family. Opened September 14, 2013, Strong Families was almost immediately at full-capacity, with 40 young children in care from infant to age three. They are receiving proper nutrition, early childhood education, and basic healthcare and hygiene education. Social support, counseling, education, vocational training, parenting and life skills training are also being provided to their mothers. The center's holistic approach to caring for children and their mothers will enable them to obtain the skills and opportunities necessary for a successful future and save them from a life on the streets.
The mothers in this program may not otherwise be able to provide for their children and run the risk of having to abandon them or release them to an orphanage. By providing care, mothers are able to generate income in order to provide for their children. The children are welcome at the center five days a week.
Watch this video for a ministry update and a view inside the center.
The Christ Church Ethiopian Orphan Ministry was founded in 2010 after Mark & Bridget Sullivan traveled to Ethiopia to adopt their youngest son. After seeing the crisis first-hand, they teamed up with Visiting Orphans to travel to Ethiopia and Uganda, helping orphans and widows. In January of 2012, Christ Church teamed up with Bring Love In to help bring widows and children together to create new families rather than see the children grow up in orphanages. The Sullivans then added to their family and brought home their two oldest daughters in late 2011. They led several Christ Church mission teams to the capitol city of Addis Ababa to help orphans in a variety of ways. God had given the Sullivans an exceptional heart for the Ethiopian people; He had been paving the way, and then it was time for them to go!
All eight members of the Sullivan family moved from Cedarburg, WI to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2013, where they served as missionaries to help develop and start Strong Families. They worked with Strong Hearts Ethiopia to start a sponsored day care program. One of the biggest challenges for widowed women in Ethiopia is the ability to work and support their children at the same time, with no outside assistance. Often, they resort to begging with their children, so the cycle of poverty is never broken. The neighborhood they are working in is next to the city trash dump where many local people pick through the trash as a means to provide for their family. Mothers all over the world want the best for their children, and Ethiopians are no exception. They want their children to have better.
Without the proper assistance, they are unable to provide basic necessities for their children and, all too often, end up giving their children to an orphanage in the hope that they will be cared for better. Modeled after Embracing Hope Ethiopia, Strong Families Care Center is providing day care for younger children and send older children out for school. They are helping women get jobs, provide medical care, offer some food assistance, provide education, and give spiritual guidance and support. Through these efforts, these families are getting a fresh start. With a solid knowledge of how to provide for their family and get the help they need; they can finally be self-sustained.
The Sullivans wound up spending two years in Ethiopia and accomplished what the mission was to begin with, for what they felt God had called them to do. The center is well staffed and running well. It was always the intentions to have the mission run and led by locals. They know what is best. It was also important to make sure that we were being responsible stewards to the very generous donors. The relationship between Christ Church and Strong Hearts continues to be nurtured and grown in our mutual love for Christ and serving His children in Ethiopia.
We have seen God working during every turn of this endeavor, and we are confident that He will bless all those working within this ministry, for His glory. We pray that you will discover a role of your own, and remember to pray for the Strong Families Care Center, their partners, and the Ethiopian people.