The vision for Yezelalem Minch began with a young woman named Birtukan. Birtukan was once a child from poor family, raised by her dedicated and disciplined single mother. She became a sponsored child in World Vision Ethiopia’s local support program.
As a child, Birtukan always assumed that all child sponsors were wealthy. After completing school, Birtukan got a job in the local World Vision office under the custody of her local church. One day, she read a letter from an American sponsor to a little boy, which changed her perspective completely. This sponsor was an elderly man, in a wheelchair, and was poor himself. The man wrote, “I’m disabled and I don’t have much money. However, I have love to share, and that is why I wish to help you.”
In Ethiopia, a disabled person is often considered one of the poorest of the poor – someone who cannot be expected to help anyone else. Birtukan was amazed at the man, and prayed, “Here I am, Lord! I have hands, I have feet, and a full body. What can I do to help these children in need?”
Years later, Birtukan took notice of many street children near her home. She started by helping two orphans, taking them into her home as a single woman. When she got married, her husband, Nesibu, agreed with her ministry vision, and as a family they continued to care for children orphaned by AIDS and other tragedies.
Before long, Birtukan and Nesibu realized they had opportunities to help more children. They reached out to two close American friends, Jayne Morrison and Jan Arrowsmith, who assisted them in registering an official Ethiopian charity organization, and began fundraising through a US-based non-profit partnership with Helps Ministries (better known then as “HIM”).
Birtukan & Nesibu
Yezelalem Minch began hiring staff and assisting a growing number of children – now over 1,800 children in multiple communities. The Yezelalem Minch family has grown to include friends and supporters in the local communities of Ethiopia, throughout the United States, and in several other countries around the world!
Yezelalem Minch was founded as a legal entity in 2001. Nesibu serves as the managing director of Yezelalem Minch, and Birtukan serves extensively as a volunteer and local donor for the program.