My name is Emmebeth Mischel and I was born and raised in Dire Dawa Ethiopia. On my 3rd day of life I was brought to the Abune Andreas Orphanage. As the years went by, the nuns who raised me always reminded me that I was the youngest baby that ever came to the orphanage. Abune Andreas was run by Catholic Nuns and a Priest. As the years passed I was told that my mother was a single teenager when she became pregnant with me. This is considered a real negative in our culture so my mother was forced to place me in the orphanage. I grew up not knowing where I came from or who my real parents were. For the first 12 years of my life I was given the nun’s name as my last name. As a child I used to wonder why I was the only child in the orphanage to have the nun’s last name where the rest of the children had their father’s name. Why did most of the children have a mother and father who would come and visit them often, but not me? The kids let me know that I was found along a river in the middle of nowhere and that’s the reason that I did not have a family to come and visit me. As a child I went through a lot of disappointments and hated myself to the point I didn’t want to live anymore. I was so upset with God for not giving me a mother and father just like the rest of the children at Abune Andreas Orphanage. It was especially difficult during holidays when most of the kids went home to be with their families. I always found myself alone, praying, and in deep conversation with GOD, hoping that one day my prayers to have a family would be answered. After my daily, and sometimes twice a day, prayers I would feel renewed and happy. Through prayer, faith and my own strength I was able to persevere through my early years at Abune Andreas. The nuns also played an integral role in my days there and taught me to always believe in myself.
Twenty-one years ago I met my mom, and all my family, when I was taken from Dire Dawa and brought to the U.S. My mother shared her story with me and told me why I was placed in the orphanage. I asked about my father but I was told nothing of him. In fact, to this day I still know nothing of him. After all this I still think that the nun and the priest are my everlasting family. Even though most of them are not around anymore I still have a great connection with them from the time I spent in the orphanage.
As a child I always found myself spending plenty of time with the little ones at Abune Andreas. I personally felt safe to be with young children. That was mainly because they would never hurt my feelings in any way. It gives me a great sense of pleasure to spend time with children even here in America as well. I have always thought about adopting a child and one day I shared my thought of adoption with my husband, Adam. After some time we decided to adopt a child from Ethiopia. His name is Jason Belay Mischel. He is 3 years old and we returned home with him from Addis Ababa in late August, 2008.He has been a blessing to our family. We have a daughter named Eliana Juliet Mischel who is 7 yrs old. It was my first and only trip in 20 years to go back to Ethiopia to pick up my son. In fact, I have now lived here in America longer than I have lived in my birth country of Ethiopia. My entire family traveled to Ethiopia to pick up Jason Belay in June, 2008. My daughter and I spent two months there while our son’s adoption was completed.
Since I had the time I decided to travel and visit with the kids to the orphanage where I grew up. I was very happy to see the nuns and some of the people who raised me. However, it was a very emotional trip for me. The Orphanage was old and run down, lacking the maintenance and the upkeep. The rooms needed to be painted and everything just looked worn out. The entire place appeared to be falling apart. The first thing that came to my mind was how could I help. I was able to donate some funds that I raised prior to coming to Ethiopia at a garage sale and fund raising event that I held. My donations were only enough to cover some supplies and uniforms and some meals for everyone. We had a wonderful luncheon filled with traditional Ethiopian foods and of course their favorite cake. I remember the times when we had special meals only for holidays or when we had a visitor so I felt compelled to make the children feel special just as I did during the holidays. I still remember how excited we all were on those days. I knew in my heart doing that for the children in the orphanage would make them so happy. They were so appreciative and really happy for my visit. Actually, the nun told me I was the first and the only one to come back and visit. I am very fortunate to surround myself with loving friends and good hearted people to be on my side for what I believe in. I will never ever forget where I came from and how I got to where I am now.
This past summer I was very fortunate to volunteer for three weeks at the orphanage where my son Jason Belay (JB) came from. I had an incredible experience spending quality time with the children, the caregivers and the staff. During the conclusion of my volunteer work I had the opportunity to travel to the southern part of Ethiopia, a region known as Hammer. It took two days to travel by car from Addis Ababa. During the journey we had a terrible accident in the middle of nowhere. The car went out of control and then flipped five times over and over. Luckily we all got out of the car immediately and reassured ourselves that we are okay even though the car was totally wrecked.
After a few minutes I discovered that I wasn’t okay. My right arm was ripped open where you could literally see my bone. I was very lucky that my hand wasn’t broken. The accident happened in the middle of nowhere, and we didn’t know how to get help because I was bleeding very badly. We didn’t have any choice but to wait for a passing car to come by to transport us to the nearest hospital. I guess we were considered very lucky because a car stopped about an hour later and told us they would transport us to the nearest hospital, but it would take about ten hours to get there. We didn’t have any other choice so we decided to hop in the car. After 2 hours into our drive my leg was warm and wet and I discovered that I was bleeding so heavy that my leg was soaked. I told the driver that there is no way I could make it all the way to the hospital. I asked him if there was a clinic nearby so that I could get treatment. He said there was a small clinic off the road about two hours from there and we would stop there if I wanted and I said definitely. We got to the clinic and the room was not clean at all. I was told to sit down and the nurse asked me to stretch my hand out and I did. He put a filthy bucket on the floor under my arm and started to pour the alcohol right into my wound and it was so very painful. Then he said that’s all he could do for me and he recommended that I go to the hospital or try another clinic in the next town about two hours away.
As I left the room to go to the car I saw many children under the age of five with a few adults starring at me and chanting that I was very lucky to be alive. The children were crying because they saw my hand and the blood. As I looked at these children I noticed some of them had one eye, one leg or one arm and other deformities. I asked the nurse what happened to these kids. He told me very sadly that most of the time they don’t have the medication to treat them so they end up losing their eyes, hands, or legs. I was beside myself. I was heartbroken. I was very emotional to the point where I didn’t care for myself any more if even I had to lose my arm. These kids do not deserve this. They didn’t make a choice to come to this world. At that moment I thought about my own family who I left in New Jersey. I reminded myself what it would be like if they were indeed my children. What would I do? What if I was killed in the accident? What would happen to my family? It was that moment G-d whispered to my ears and said “If you die your children have a father to take good care of them.” However, who will take care of these children who don’t have a family I thought? Who will provide them with proper medication when they need it? Who will feed them when they are hungry? Who will give them love, hug them, and pay attention to them when their feelings are hurt? All these thoughts rocketed through my mind while I was on my way to the next clinic. I arrived to the next hospice and the nurse said to me that it would be very difficult for him to stitch my arm and he advised me to go to the hospital. I refused to drive anymore and insisted for him to do the best he could. I wasn’t worried anymore if he was going to do a good job or not. I wasn’t any better than those children I just saw. I didn’t really care what my arm looked like as long as he stitched it together and the bleeding stopped. The nurse even said “Oh, “you could fix it again when you go to America.””
He started working on my arm and all of a sudden I screamed because it was very painful. While I was feeling this excruciating pain I began to think of the children and about their suffering and pain that they endure every single day. These thoughts are what gave me strength to push through the pain I was feeling at that very moment. Finally after all this I came back home to my family safely and in one piece. However, I am not the same person anymore and I have changed tremendously. I have realized through these current experiences and my life that I have a larger responsibility on my shoulders. I am now determined to go above and beyond to help the children of Hammer and Abune Andreas orphanage. This is my mission and I know that through hard work dedication and charity it will and can make a difference in the lives of these children. Please join me in my project to support these children, whether it is through finding ways to spread the word of all the great things that are happening for Orphans in Ethiopia, through sponsorship, by providing an education and school uniforms for a child, fund raising that would allow the children to go beyond the 12 years of a public education and venture into a career path that can ultimately change the cycle of poverty, donating the fundamental items that are needed for everyday living (blankets, first aid supplies, medications, shoes, clothes,and food). However my story touches you, however big or small GOD touches your heart in the pursuit of helping the children of Ethiopia I thank you in advance and the children of Ethiopia also thank you for your generosity.