How the Church (and YOU) Saved Sofia From Homelessness

When COVID-19 hit, single mother Sofia lost her ability to work and was facing homelessness with her three children. A local church was able to give her rent assistance from generous donors like you. Now her family is housed, safe and together.

Sofia and Abueker Jemal standing in a doorway

Sofia from Ethiopia knows what it is like to be evicted. She knows the pain of having to split her three children up simply so they have a safe place to sleep at night. In December, she was evicted because she was unable to make rent with her meager income as a vegetable seller.

To prevent her children from living on the streets, Sofia sent them to the homes of different neighbors and family members. She spent her days going from home to home checking on her children. At the end of the day, she crashed at friends’ or family members’ homes — anyone who would take her in.

She is still haunted by the hopelessness and uncertainty she felt as she spent her days visiting her children at other peoples’ homes, trying to console them as they wept for her.

In that crisis, Compassion’s church partner supported her family, paying the rent so they could be reunited again. Sofia felt like she was starting to stand on her own two feet again.

Then COVID-19 happened.

Abubeker Jemal looking out the doorway of his home

Abubeker Jemal nearly became homeless because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the government introduced restrictions on movement to curb the virus’ spread, Sofia suddenly found herself out of work. She can’t sell on the streets, nor can she do other people’s laundry. People are no longer hiring for such services out of fear of the virus. Parents like Sofia depend upon the income they earn each day. So now their families are not only vulnerable to hunger but also to homelessness.

Sofia was embarrassed that she needed help again, but she was determined that her family would not be split up. She set out for Compassion’s church partner. Her son, Abubeker Jemal, has been part of the Child Sponsorship Program at the church since he was 3 years old.

“Knowing how much they have supported me in the past, I was sure that they would at least listen to me,” said Sofia.

“Last time, they found a home for me, paid the rent and made sure my children were never away from me. I was feeling embarrassed to ask for more help when they have done so much already. [But] as soon as one of the staff welcomed me to the office, I knew I had made the right decision and felt heard already.”

The staff immediately organized for Sofia’s rent to be covered and provided food parcels for the family.

“We anticipate many cases like Sofia’s where caregivers face housing insecurity and even eviction,” says center director Mrs. Mimi. “It is a tough season for many. We will do everything we can to protect our children.”

Had Compassion’s church partner not intervened, Sofia and her children would have been out on the streets. And given the current crisis, it would have been difficult for her to find people who could have taken them in.

Thanks to Compassion’s church partner and amazing people like you, she can still hold her children close tonight and in the nights to come.

Thank you for helping vulnerable children like Jemal!

5 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Walansa Tilahun May 20, 2020

    Tigi, You have written the story of Sofia in a very interesting way. I really appreciate your dedication and commitment even at this critical time. My appreciation also goes to the FCP workers who showed love and care to Sofia and her three children.

  2. Getahun Kassaye May 20, 2020

    What a heart touching strory. May God bless our partner churches, donors and sponsors. Thank you Tigist.

  3. Judy Lenn May 19, 2020

    Is there a way we can directly give money to insure our child and mother are given a home?

    1. Christina May 20, 2020

      Judy, we are truly grateful for the love and faithful support you are blessing your sweet Meareg with, especially during this difficult season!

      You may give directly to your child by choosing to give a Child Gift, Birthday Gift, or Family Gift. In one calendar year, you may give up $10-$100 as a Child or Birthday Gift, and you may give $25-$1,000 as a Family Gift. I’d like to explain our normal process for these gifts and the temporary differences due to COVID-19.

      In normal circumstances, when your child and their family receive a gift, a Compassion staff member will assist them in purchasing a gift for your child. Of course, you may make recommendations on how you would like the money to be used. However, the use of the gift is ultimately up to the family, so if they have an immediate need, they may use the gift to help meet that need. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that they will use the gift funds for housing. For gifts of $21 or more, you can expect to receive a thank you letter from your about six months after the gift is given, letting you know what was purchased. If the gift amount is $60 or more, you will also receive a photo of what was purchased.

      During this time, however, that process creates additional burdens and dangers for our field staff.

      Because of that, we are now encouraging field staff to disburse monetary gifts to an appropriate, verified caregiver. This applies to family gifts and beneficiary gifts (including birthday and final gifts). Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will be notified whether a gift has been designated as a beneficiary gift or family gift. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognizing that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

      Thank-you letters will be delayed until children can safely return to their centers; however, photos will not be required to be fulfilled during the crisis. If you have additional questions, we are happy to help you via email at [email protected]. For more information about how Compassion is responding to COVID-19, please visit God bless you!

  4. Arleen Borrillo May 19, 2020

    I love Compassion and what they do for children and families and women and so many other areas they are involved in. And I love that they want to see those they serve come to know the Savior

    Thank you

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