By: Brandy Campbell with Tigist Gizachew   |   Posted: July 14, 2017

A joyful announcement turns into near tragedy as a mother grapples with rejection.

God’s Handiwork

A joyful announcement turns into near tragedy as a mother grapples with rejection.

Written by Brandy Campbell with Tigist Gizachew
Photography by Tigist Gizachew
Derebe sitting with her daughter

Derebe and her daughter receive support through Compassion’s program.

It was an announcement that should have brought joy. But Derebe knew the two words she was about to whisper to her husband, Anteneh, would bring no smiles or celebration.

“I’m pregnant.”

However, even Derebe couldn’t have predicted her husband’s reaction. She never imagined the terrible things he would scream at her in front of their two sons. The words he would say about the child growing inside her. The ultimatum he would deliver.

Get rid of the baby. Or leave.

“My husband’s words broke my heart,” remembers Derebe. “When I realized he was serious, I left … and went to my parent’s house. I trusted God with my life and with the baby He was forming in my womb. … I was filled with faith that God would provide.”

Back at home with her parents, 25-year-old Derebe looked around at the poverty she grew up in and wondered, Why couldn’t they escape? She had begun working as a housemaid in Addis Ababa at just 10 years old, and when she married Anteneh, they were determined to create a better life for their children.

“My husband and I worked hard and tried many ways of making more money,” says Derebe. “Nothing seemed to work. We put in a lot of effort but to no avail. We were desperate, and we did everything we knew how to do in order to survive.”

Survival was about all they could manage though. Derebe and Anteneh’s earnings could cover little more than food and shelter, leaving nothing for education fees, medical care or even clothes for their sons.

“I was always sad because I couldn’t fulfill the needs of my two boys,” says Derebe. “My husband and I worked hard, but life was just a struggle.”

To everyone except Derebe, this unborn baby was just another part of the struggle. Even her parents mocked her for continuing the pregnancy. Everyone said the same thing.

“It is impossible for you to care for this child.” Derebe didn’t deny their concerns. But she maintained her belief that God would honor her decision.

When Derebe was 9 months pregnant, she and Anteneh reconciled. And while Derebe was glad to have her family back together, she still didn’t know what would happen. As she prepared to give birth on a hay mattress on the dirt floor in her family’s hut, she looked around her home with dread. She had no clothes for her baby. No food. How would God provide?

Yet Derebe’s faith remained. A faith that was evident when she named her girl Yeabsera, “God’s handiwork.”

A few weeks after Yeabsera was born, Derebe heard about a Child Survival Program in her community, a place that helps moms and babies who live in desperate poverty. And for the first time, her faith began to make sense. When staff from the center visited Derebe’s home to meet with her and little Yeabsera, they saw the very reason the Child Survival Program had been created — to save the life of a child.

“When we went to visit Derebe at her home, we were shocked,” says Rebeka, the Child Survival Program team leader. “The family had nothing in the house. All of them slept on one small hay mattress. There was no food in the house. The older boys were not in good condition either. We registered her immediately and started supporting them.”

Derebe named her daughter Yeabsera, which means “God’s handiwork”

Derebe named her daughter Yeabsera, which means “God’s handiwork.”

Derebe sells spices to earn an income

Derebe sells spices to earn an income.


After so many years of trying and failing, the transformation Derebe and her family experienced in the following months was nothing short of miraculous.

In addition to the knowledge Derebe was gaining and the physical support Yeabsera was getting, the family began receiving groceries every month. That freed up the finances for Derebe to eventually start her own business selling spices.

“I started saving the money I earned, and shortly I was able to buy a mattress, a little coffee table and kitchen utensils,” says Derebe. “I started making a steady profit. I was able to send my children to school!”

Today, Yeabsera is a toddling, living example of her name — God’s handiwork. God is at work, and as Yeabsera grows up, her family will never let her forget that God used her birth, her very existence, to change their world.

Because she was born, she has two big brothers who go to school.

Because she was born, she has a father who, each time he holds her, is reminded of God’s faithfulness and forgiveness.

Because she was born, her mother’s obedience became an answered prayer.

God’s handiwork indeed.