|   Posted: June 01, 2020

Abandoned by their mom, twin sisters Elisabeth and Alemtarik were raised by their hardworking father. When his health began to fail, Compassion staff was there to ensure the girls would never again be left behind.

Protection for Vulnerable Children

Abandoned by their mom, twin sisters Elisabeth and Alemtarik were raised by their hardworking father. When his health began to fail, Compassion staff was there to ensure the girls would never again be left behind.

sisters Elisabeth and Alemtarik

Elisabeth and Alemtarik were just a few months old when their mother locked them inside their one-room home and vanished. Neighbors rushed toward the infants’ shrieks, only to find the door locked. Some ran to look for the mother while others broke through the door.

Although the neighbors couldn’t find the babies’ mother, they knew where to find their father. It had been a few weeks since baby Elisabeth and Alemtarik’s parents had separated. Thankfully their father was there to take over their care. Their mother never returned.

As the identical twins grew older, they would follow their tall, frail father while he pushed a cart of sugar cane through the streets of their small town in Ethiopia. As their dad sliced and sold sugar cane to his customers, he protectively watched Elisabeth and Alemtarik playing nearby. Selling sugar cane was his only means of financially supporting his girls.

“Our father sacrificed a lot to care for us,” says Elisabeth, now 20. “Many people used to come asking him to take one of us. He chose to raise us through the struggle, even if it meant that he had to always scrape together money to provide for us.”

When the twins were 4 years old, their father learned about Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program and registered Elisabeth and Alemtarik. They began going to a child development center at the church and were soon connected with caring sponsors.

Elisabeth and Alemtarik read on a bed
Elisabeth and Alemtarik

Fighting for Life

It was obvious looking at the twins’ father that he was in poor health. He suffered severe asthma attacks, so the church helped him begin medical treatment. Even so, his asthma grew worse, and his strength waned. He could no longer work.

“We were not sure what to do at that time. We were scared to tell anyone what was happening at home,” recalls Alemtarik. “Our landlords used to evict us thinking that our father would die soon. I think they didn’t want the trouble of helping us bury him.”

One day, just as a landlord was throwing the family’s belongings out of their home, a Compassion center worker named Solomon walked by. He argued on the girls’ behalf until the landlord agreed to let them stay. After that, Solomon became the twins’ greatest advocate. He presented their case to church leadership, pointing out that the sisters’ needs exceeded what sponsorship could cover. The church was able to offer extra protection for the girls through Compassion’s Highly Vulnerable Children's Fund.

"The extra support we started getting made our father incredibly happy," Alemtarik says. "We were no longer worried about what we would eat."

Knowing he didn’t have long left, their father asked Solomon to care for his daughters as his own. The twins were 12 when their dad died.

Elisabeth and Alemtarik sit outside

Unwavering Support

Elisabeth and Alemtarik started life without their loving father in a small rented room in their godmother’s compound. The Compassion program staff, especially Solomon, stood by the girls, praying for them, comforting and counseling them. The staff also hired a cook to prepare nutritious meals for them at home. The girls received encouragement through regular letters from their sponsors.

Elisabeth and Alemtarik spent most of their free time at their child development center, where they were involved in the children’s choir, Bible classes and tutoring. Elisabeth says, "The center was a family for us. We spent our time there since there was nothing good back home."

What grounded the twins more than anything was their faith, which they strengthened by studying the Bible. "The best thing that helped us endure all the trauma in our lives is the fact that we found Jesus. He was truly our Father," says Alemtarik. "Whenever we feel sad, we talk to him. Whenever we feel lonely, we know he is with us. Whenever we lack anything, we ask his provision."

When the sisters decided to attend a private college in a nearby city, Solomon helped them relocate and adjust. Both twins are studying accounting.

"Compassion and the church played a great role in our life," Elisabeth says. "We thought we had no one when we lost our dad. But we had the Compassion center that stood with us until today."

Stand in the gap for orphans like Elisabeth and Alemtarik by giving to the Highly Vulnerable Children's fund!