Project Mercy: More than just a shelter - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Project Mercy: More than just a shelter

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YETEBON, ETHIOPIA (WKOW) -- Thirteen Wisconsin volunteers signed up to be part of the first-ever Global Partners team in Ethiopia.

Both medically and non-medically trained volunteers headed into the operating room at Project Mercy.

Hospitals in Ethiopia often have to deal with issues not experienced often in the United States.  Basics like electricity is sometimes just out of reach.  Global Partners volunteer Iyad Salah had just sedated a two-week old child for his circumcision when the hospital lost power.  It was the help of nurses that got the child the oxygen he needed.

Also, used equipment that would have been thrown out in an American hospital may have to be sterilized and re-used in Ethiopia because valuable and essential equipment is not as easily replaced.

One of the hardest challenges for hospitals in Ethiopia is dealing with is making the patients comfortable.  Pain medications are not available in rural Ethiopia.  When patients awake from surgery, the staff often have to rely on their gentle touch and caring hand to help them feel better.

Team members say working in Ethiopia reminds them of why they got into medicine in the first place: to help people in any way they could.

Click here to find out more about Project Mercy.


YETEBON, ETHIOPIA (WKOW) -- To understand why Project Mercy is a special place, you must look into the eyes of the children who live there.

More than 40 "house kids" live on campus; most are orphans. Thanks to Project Mercy each child has a home, a sense of security, and more importantly, family.

His shy smile and soft spoken nature may lead you to believe that Berchernett is a carefree kid, but there have been days this 15-year-old struggled to survive. Berchernet was living on the street, trying to care for his four younger brothers and sister, when Project Mercy's founders invited Berchernet and his siblings to live at the compound.

 "God gives them to me.", explains Berchernet. Berchernet is one of 42 "house kids" who call Project Mercy home. Each child's story is sadly similar.

 "The kids just take your heart away". Lali Demeke knows each of the house kids well. His parents founded Project Mercy.

Lali considers each one of the kids family. "The idea is for them to grow up in a family environment. It's a big family here."

The children live in dormitories with a house mom; one for boys, another for girls. They eat together, play together, pray together, and do chores together.

"I like it.", said Tigist.

Tigist's parents died was she was young. She lived with her aunt until her aunt married and her new uncle sent her away. When she arrived here ten years ago Tigist was an only child. Not anymore. "I see that in them like the girls are my sisters and the boys are my brothers. Mom and dad are my mom and dad."

Children come to Project Mercy for shelter and food. The things they need to simply survive.  They stay for the things worth living for.
Tigist and Berchernet are the top students in their classes.  Both dream of going to college. Tigist wants to be pharmacists. Berchernet wants to go to Harvard to become a doctor or surgeon. The teens say they want to someday pay it forward and help people, like their Project Mercy family has helped them.

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