Making the difference for one: TWU DRIME student meets her Ethiopian sponsor child

Langley, B.C.—Third-year Trinity Western University nursing student Amy Piper never thought sponsoring a disadvantaged child in a country across the world could change her own life. But that’s exactly what happened this past August, as Amy met face to face with eleven-year-old Nehima Behri, the girl she’d sponsored for over three years.

It was on a trip to the Ethiopian capital city of Addis Ababa with one of TWU’s DRIME teams (drama, dance, mime and music) that Amy and Nehima met in an emotional encounter. The experience, says Amy, was eye-opening. “She was a real girl, with a real life, a real family, and a real story—not just a picture in a sponsorship brochure.”

After several phone calls with agency representatives, Amy managed to arrange a visit to the Compassion International school facility that Nehima attends thanks to Amy’s support. Amy describes the wide range of feelings she experienced as her taxi van pulled up to the project site where Nehima was waiting to meet her. “I was a bit nervous,” Amy remembers. “I wondered how she would perceive me and I was trying to put myself in her shoes.”

Anticipating Amy’s arrival, Nehima stood under the doorway wearing the same dress pictured in her sponsor photograph. “I cried,” says Amy as she remembers meeting Nehima for the first time. “I was surprised at the feelings I already had for her.” Nehima had even prepared a gift, wrapped in silver paper, that she placed in Amy’s hands. Amy opened it to find a silk rose bearing the words ‘I love you’. “It was the sweetest thing ever,” smiles Amy.

After talking for just a few minutes, Amy realized just how much Nehima already knew about her. “The children at the school knew a lot about their sponsors,” she remarks. Apparently, Nehima remembered details from letters Amy had written three years ago. “I asked her if she knew why I had come to Ethiopia, and she said ‘Yes—to see me!’ without hesitating,” Amy fondly recalls. “That really pulled at my heart. I have to admit that the possibility of seeing her was a big motivator in my coming on the trip in the first place.”

Amy accompanied her new friend home to a neighbourhood packed with small concrete houses, where Nehima’s mother and two younger siblings were waiting with fresh coffee and bread. Amy was overcome by the family’s generosity and willingness to share. “It impressed me so much that they have so little and yet are so ready to share it. They wanted to bless us!”

In talking with Nehima’s mother, Amy learned that the family had lost two young children over the years. Now pregnant again, Nehima’s mother hopes for a healthy baby and the resources to provide for her children. Amy understands how sponsorship programs like Compassion International’s can have profound consequences for families like Nehima’s. “Sponsoring a child changes lives—not just the child’s, but the whole family’s,” Amy observes. “Something that seems so small to us can make such a difference to them.”

This is Amy’s third year with DRIME, a TWU student group that combines music and choreographed movement to convey poignant evangelistic themes in three-to-five minute dramas. The team, which has over 50 members, and travels overseas each year, can be frequently seen in action on the streets of downtown Vancouver. One of DRIME’s principal objectives, according to Amy, is to share the gospel as team members connect and converse with passersby who watch the dramatic presentations. On the Ethiopian trip this August, Amy’s DRIME team spent the bulk of their time working with local churches in Addis Ababa, training groups of Ethiopian Christians to use drama as an evangelistic tool.

Meeting Nehima opened Amy’s eyes to important new realities, not least of which is the need to share the message of Jesus. “Nehima was from a Muslim background, and I didn’t know that before,” says Amy. “I want to be a better witness to her through my letters.” Thinking back to their parting, Amy displays enthusiastic warmth for her new friend that’s hard to hide. “Saying goodbye to Nehima was difficult. I’m really excited to get her next letter and send her some pictures!”

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,500 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 38 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 13 graduate degrees including counseling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2015-07-20
Author: Keela Keeping