By: Tigist Gizachew   |   Posted: August 15, 2022

Go behind the scenes with Compassion Ethiopia Photojournalist Tigist Gizachew to share some of the moments that God has used to shape her own faith and reveal more of his love and goodness.

Unforgettable Mothers Who Have Shaped Me

Go behind the scenes with Compassion Ethiopia Photojournalist Tigist Gizachew to share some of the moments that God has used to shape her own faith and reveal more of his love and goodness.

Written by Tigist Gizachew
a mother and her baby

You and I are shaped by stories.

For years I have experienced the warm welcome of children and families when I’m a total stranger to them. I’ve been honored to gain their trust enough for them to let me into their stories — their struggles, triumphs and hopes. I’ve laughed, cried and prayed with them.

And writing their stories in a manner that captures their dignity and affirms their place as children of God has sent me back into the Potter’s hands.

Whenever I sit down with a mother to hear her story, and in the quiet of my car as I travel back home, God begins to rework and mold me. I leave with a million questions in my head — questions directed not to the mothers or the children I interviewed but to the One who orchestrates everything for his glory.

My all-time question, the first one I ask, is: “Why, God? Why did you want me to listen to that?”

Sometimes heavy emotions take time and energy to process. I also carry the excitement of witnessing a transformed life and a revived hope with me. Beyond the questions and the emotions there is always a whisper confirming that I serve the God that sees, hears and rends the heavens to answer the cry of the weary and the destitute.

In my 15 years of serving as a storyteller with Compassion, each story has left a mark on me, especially the stories of mothers who have persevered to sustain their children and ensure a bright future for them through the Church and the Compassion centers.

Here are some of the stories that have shaped my perspective.

Abiyot's Story

Abyiot sits outside of her home

Hope — hanging by a thread — is revived!

I was on a different assignment when I met Abiyot by chance at a center in Addis Ababa at the height of the COVID-19 season.

As soon as my interview finished, I asked the staff why this particular mother couldn’t stop crying, even when they were trying to console her. I learned that she came to the church to tell them that she and her six children had run out of food completely.

Hearing the reason behind her uncontrollable tears shattered my heart.

As a mother of four myself, I understood how desperate she might have felt. What could be more painful for a mother than to tell her children there is no breakfast, lunch or dinner? All of us in the office went to our wallets and told her to get enough food for her children to last a day or two until the Compassion center could arrange food supplies and additional support.

I remember crying on my way home, thinking about Abiyot — and all those mothers in a similar situation who had nowhere to turn. I thanked God for bringing the church and the Compassion center into Abiyot’s life for such a time as that.

Our paths crossed again when I was researching a story about food security. I got an opportunity to meet her loving children and hear her relive her story. She confided in me that on the night before she came to the center crying, she had thought of ending her life. The reason she didn’t was her hope that the center would come to her rescue.

Abiyot and her family

Abiyot and her family were not just rescued from hunger — their lives were spared. She continued to be a mother to her wonderful children. I was fortunate enough to witness children circling a tray of food and eating with delight, their mother watching them with a faint smile on her face.

If the hope of getting support from the center saved six children from becoming orphans, what greater mission do you and I have than to continue sharing that hope with many more families in need?

Hannah's Story

Hannah and her baby

A divine intervention showcasing God’s heart for the destitute

I was five months pregnant when I met Hanna. She was the first mother I met after three months of isolation due to a difficult first trimester in my pregnancy. I was still nauseated, and months of not eating proper meals had left my body frail.

Hanna was full of smiles, and she was happy I was visiting with her. I met her 7-month-old baby boy and her other two young children. It was a joy to see how grateful she was for the Compassion center’s support in one of the darkest seasons of her life.

As we started chatting, the atmosphere changed. As she recounted her story, her beautiful smile faded. You see, Hanna was seven months pregnant when she walked into the Compassion center.

She was on a mission to either beg for food or ask for a job — any job — so she could feed her children. She had been wandering the streets, leaving her two young children at home. She couldn’t bear to see their frail bodies.

Her pregnancy stood in the way of her finding work. People in the community refused to hire her, so she turned to mosques, churches and individuals in asking for support. Every time Hanna felt her baby kick, she felt torn.

That day, as she was telling me her story with tears streaming down her face, I felt her pain. I couldn’t imagine how she was able to go without food for days when she needed to “eat for two.”

I couldn’t muster the energy to tell her she was brave, that it was all in the past and that she is doing well now.

I could only cry with her.

The loving care of the center staff the first time she walked into their office ignited a sense of hope in Hanna. She told me she felt heard, loved and valued. The Compassion center staff received her with kindness and genuine concern — not only for her but for her unborn child, too.

When I met Hanna, she was a joyful, grateful and hardworking mother.

Hannah and her family

She went into the church looking for food or work, and a year later she was working and feeding her children thanks to the Survival initiative that provided income-generating opportunities and other support.

Though emotionally and physically drained, I left humbled and grateful.

What These Stories Have Taught Me

Every opportunity I get to interact with people is a chance to live out my faith.

Through my work and listening to these stories, I have learned to be intentional in loving, speaking life, giving hope, being a voice and standing with those who need me.

I want to encourage you to do the same. You and I don’t know how our words, smiles and touch will impact the people we meet.

I have learned that every story belongs to God, and I acknowledge his loving hand on the stories of the people I meet. I have also learned that there are no lost causes with God. Our sovereign God designs everything for his glory. There are no lost or missed opportunities.

As God led Hanna to the Church — to the place of her restoration — he is faithful to lead me to a place of peace and rest.

As Abiyot’s tears were wiped away and her hope restored because of the Church, I fully trust God to do the same in my life.

When I am at the end of my rope, when circumstances surrounding me echo hopelessness and when I feel defeated and ready to give up, I remember these stories. I remember their triumph, their joy and the loving hand of God who rescued them.

I remember that I’m under the watchful eyes of the God of the universe. He sees me! He sees you! Nothing escapes him.

After every completed story, there is a little bit of me — my faith, my hope, my knowledge of the One who rescues — being grown, shaped and molded. I’m still in the Potter’s hand.