{1,000 cloth diapers}

Extreme poverty and extreme joy... I never thought the two could go together. Until my trip to Ethiopia. Only spending one week there, I know I just experienced the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to see. But what I did experience has left me forever changed.

I witnessed people living in conditions that we here in America would consider deplorable walk around with big smiles on their faces. Their joy was real and their hearts were full. Proving that having a nice house, the trendiest clothes, and even a full belly cannot bring fulfillment and joy. There was one place in particular that I experienced this and it filled me with conviction, heartache, and awe... Bethzatha Children's Home Association (a government run orphanage.)

Our son spent a few days in Bethzatha before being sent to Hannah's Hope, so a tour of the orphanage was part of our schedule during our time in Ethiopia. When we first walked in the gates there was a notable difference between this place and Hannah's Hope, but it still wasn't too bad. There was a court yard, playground, and even a goat tied to a pole. I was afraid to ask if he was a pet or dinner. :) The first room we entered seemed to be the classroom/eating room for the older children. These kids ranged from 2 or 3 years old to probably 7 or 8. When we walked in the smell of urine stopped me for a moment. Most of the kids were so excited to see us, though a couple were terrified and began crying. One boy ran out of his chair and put his arms up for me to hold him. I picked him up and hugged him while he played with my hair and smiled. Within moments I realized that my arm and shirt were now damp with the urine that had soaked through his pants. It broke my heart. We held and smiled at each other for a couple more minutes before he wanted to go back to his friends. Then the next little boy ran up and this time John swooped him up while I took pictures and let him see himself on the digital camera screen. He thought this was great fun and it continued for awhile.

Finally we wandered back out into the fresh air and to another building that I overheard someone say held the babies. I wanted to go in because this is where my sweet son had spent nearly a week of his life. I started up the steps to the door when another mom came out crying and said, "don't go in there alone." So I stopped and waited for John. We walked up the stairs to the second floor together and entered a room labeled "special." It was about the size of a utility closet and there were two girls laying in pajamas on mats on the floor. They may have been about 5 or 6 years old. The man who drove us there explained that they were deaf and blind (and it appeared that one or both were crippled.) The depth of pain in my heart cannot be described in words. These sweet girls couldn't see us smile at them or hear us speak words of love and comfort. So we did the only thing we could think of - we each knelt down by a girl and grabbed her hands and rubbed them. Then rubbed her arms and legs and face while we prayed and wept and begged God to shower these precious children with His love. Walking away from that room was one of the hardest acts of my life.

Then we entered the next room - the baby room. Again, the smell of urine and feces was overpowering. My eyes were burning, but what I saw hurt even worse. There were a few cribs and one bouncy seat. The babies were tiny and there were 3 in one crib. The one in the bouncy seat was crying, so I knelt down to soothe him. That's when I realized they had no diapers. None of them. They were laying in blankets, and most were soaked with urine. We stayed in the room for a few more minutes, but then had to leave.

Outside in the fresh air I was struggling to wrap my mind around what I saw. Tucker's nursery here at home is bigger than the room that held all Bethzatha's babies. Some of our closets are bigger. We take for granted that our children are bathed daily and get a fresh diaper whenever the one they're wearing is soiled. I've been at baby showers where we make "cakes" out of diapers and then THROW THEM AWAY when the shower is over simply because they were generic brand and only for decoration. We have the resources to not think twice about these things. But I saw women who were doing everything they could to care for these children and not even be able to give them diapers - I saw these women SMILE. They were able to still have joy. They were doing the best they could with the little they had and I believe it's for that reason that they could smile.

... and it's for that same reason that I couldn't smile. Am I really doing the best I can for the orphans of the world with the resources I have? Am I really doing all I can for them? No. Part of that is because I truly didn't know. It's one thing to watch an infomercial or a you tube video that expresses the need. It's quite another to be there to see, smell, and feel it all yourself. Now I get it.

Friends of ours, the Emerson's, that were there with us are responding to the needs we all saw by setting a goal for our next trip. 1,000 cloth diapers for Ethiopian Orphans. The goal is to be able to collect and raise funds to purchase 1,000 cloth diapers to take back to Ethiopia with them next month. Please PLEASE consider helping out. John and I are also collecting cloth diapers to take with us. Wouldn't it be great if we could take 2,000? Head on over to 1,000 Cloth Diapers for Ethiopian Orphans to get involved!

Would you consider buying a pack of cloth diapers to improve the life and health of a child of God? If so, you can ship them here: 

5018 Lower James Street
Montgomery, Alabama 36116. 

Or you can contribute funds for diapers (every penny will be spent on the diapers) via PayPal by sending the money to: cemerson@faulkner.edu 

OR you can look to the right of this post and find our paypal button. Just add "diapers" into the notes with your donation and we will use the money to buy cloth diapers to take over on our trip next month. 


Kristin said...

Wow, Lauren. It is so hard to imagine and I'm sure there's just no way to really understand until you see it for yourself. I will head over there to the other blog and see what I can do.

Lara said...

Oh, makes my heart hurt. I need to place an order with Cotton Babies, so I'll add an extra package of diapers to it.

Ashley said...

Oh Lauren, although it's so hard to hear words like the ones you have written, it makes me smile. I think it makes God smile too, to know that there is one more of His children who are now committed to helping The Least of These, whose heart hurts like His. I was, like you, forever changed, my eyes forever opened on my trip to Ethiopia in May 2010.

Blessings to you, may you gather your 1000 diapers, and never become "comfortable" with the way things are again,

In His love,

shirl said...

Kawaii sells a very inexpensive and high-quality cloth diaper that is comparable to the one-size pocket BumGenius 3.0's. It is the heavy duty one-size pocket diaper you can find here:


They are only $7 per diaper, and if you order a package, they are more like $6.50 per diaper. If you spend at least $70, shipping is free.

I highly recommend them! Bigger bang for your buck, and everyone I know who uses them LOVES them.

1000 Kawaii diapers would cost about $6400, whereas 1000 comparable Bum Genius diapers would cost about $17950. BIG difference!

Okay, that's my plug for the day. :)

4 Blessings said...

I just donated for some. I have no idea what to order, so please just purchase whatever kind you think will work best.
So thankful for you guys doing this project.
Love ya,

Anna said...

just "liked " you onFacebook. I also linked to your efforts on my blog.

aPearantly sew said...

It breaks my heart to read these words. But I think that's sometimes necessary, I think my heart needs to be broken in order that I may be pushed to respond. Thank you for sharing this experience, and a practical way to help. I will definitely be donating money to help you all reach your goal of 1,000 diapers!

Madeleine said...

We will do our part in this.

When we started the new adoption, someone sent me this video, and it still resonates with me. And reminds me to STOP BEING SO AMERICAN!!

Life is bigger then I can Imagine.


When do you get your sweet boy? It must be so very, very hard to still be waiting now that you have been there!!


Alison said...

Oh, Lauren, this just breaks my heart. I just sent a huge box of cloth diapers to Kristi today for her "Covered in Hope" cloth diaper project. Thanks for letting us all see just how much they are needed!

Chad Emerson said...


Betsy and I were so blessed to share the trip to Ethiopia with you and John.

To everyone reading this blog post...Lauren's words perfectly describe the situation. This is not how it should be though. God's call to help those who cannot help themselves was perfectly evidenced in our few short hours at Bethzatha.

Please consider joining this effort and thanks to the Caspers for their wonderful heart for the orphans.

Alicia said...

Oh my gosh, this breaks my heart. I can only imagine how it would be to experience that in person. It must have been so hard for you to leave there.

He & Me + 3 said...

Thank you for sharing this Lauren...there are so many things we do not know...but we need to know. just donated. Thanks for doing this. I love your heart.

MamaMay said...

Your post made me cry. I thought you should know.

Christie said...

Hey Lauren...I sent Betsy diapers, but I have thousands :) are there other families that you know of that I could send some to that are traveling soon? email me knowingnobounds@gmail.com

I started this cloth diapering ministry almost a month ago...God had obviously laid it on my heart for BIG reasons.

Brennan's Mom said...

Here's another adoptive mama doing the same thing. Maybe you can work together.


Rachel said...

I'm sending about a dozen prefolds, a fitted, a few covers and some snappis. They probably won't go into the mail until Saturday due to the blizzard, and generally not wanting to take my 8 month old out into the weather. They are all prepped and absorbant and ready to wear.

Eleni said...

I really appreciate what you are doing, and I agree as Americans we cannot wrap our minds around how much of the world lives.
I am wondering though, does the orphanage have the capability of laundering the diapers?