It is late in the evening, but Dela Gbedevi cannot sleep. It has been a long day filled with dozens of children who needed her attention — a hug, a kind word, a listening ear. But one child weighs heavily on Dela’s mind. As she lies in the dark she can’t help but wonder, Is Alex okay?
As the project director at the Kove Child Development Center, Dela is responsible for more than 200 children every week. Children who live in extreme poverty — who suffer from malaria, whose parents are unemployed. And for some children, poverty doesn’t seem to want to let go. For them, the obstacles of poverty seem insurmountable. And for those children, Dela stays awake at night.
When Dela met Alex for the first time, she says his hair was gray and his belly was distended — both sure signs of malnutrition. At 4 years old, he barely looked 2. Alex’s mother, Adjovi, was a student when she met his father, but he refused to support her or his child. Faustin, Adjovi’s own father, took her in and paid her hospital bills when she had Alex.
Eight people were crowded into Faustin’s home. None of his five children had jobs, and Faustin and his wife could not keep up with the constant need.
“Life was really hard for us, especially when I lost my job,” Faustin says. “Our daily food is cassava flour. I do not know breakfast anymore. It is rare that we even eat rice.”
Dela had watched the struggles of Faustin and his family, and she and her husband had even helped with school fees for the children on occasion. So when the Kove Child Development Center finally opened in their community, Dela immediately contacted Adjovi and encouraged her to register Alex.
Alex’s most pressing need was food, as the meal he received at the center was often his only balanced meal. The center was able to offer lunch each, and after school he also came for dinner — a meal that he often put in his bag to take home and share with his family.
Dela says the center has also reached out to Adjovi, partnering with her in the overwhelming task of being a young, single mother.
“[Adjovi] told me that she sometimes thinks of fleeing and leaving these children in the streets, because she is overwhelmed by the situation,” says Dela. “I often spend long hours talking to her. I think my advice was heard, and that is why she is still with her children. Once, Faustin even wanted to throw Adjovi and her children out of his house. I intervened and, glory be to God, Faustin could not do it.”
Alex’s health improves daily, and he is an active participant at the center, playing with his friends and learning Bible stories. His school fees are covered, and Alex is now in the first grade. Even as he waits or his first sponsor, he is experiencing the love of Christ through people like Dela. But Dela says she longs for the day when Alex gets his first sponsor letter and realizes that someone across the world loves him.
Alex’s entire family, in fact, waits for the day he has a sponsor. His grandfather prays for that unknown person who will one day join their family. “May God bless that person,” he says, “and grant them good health.”