PORTLAND — A locally based Christian adoption agency had a big role in a recently aired episode of the nationally popular Extreme Makeover: Home Edition show on ABC-TV.
In a Thanksgiving special aired in late November, the program spotlighted not only Daniel and Mandy Watson of Knoxville, Tenn., and their three adoptive children, but also a makeover of an elementary school in Ethiopia by a mission team from Portland-based All God’s Children International (AGCI).
The Watsons adopted a son from Ethiopia through AGCI, which helped inspire a ministry of family preservation that the Watsons established in Knoxville.
The Watsons were selected by the ABC-TV program in early 2012 because of their work with Restoration House of East Tennessee. The group helps low-income, single mothers with a place to stay and the tools to succeed in life. The couple left their jobs five years ago to start the non-profit organization, inspired be their own single-mother upbringings.
The Watsons are currently helping five single mothers and 11 children. But their own home was in such bad shape that it threatened to take them away from their non-profit and imperil their dreams of expanding their program to help even more single moms. Last January, ABC sent the Watson family on a Florida vacation while the show’s design team and thousands of local volunteers within about a week built them a new home — as shown on the TV show.
While the Watsons’ two older children were adopted from single mothers in the Knoxville area, their son Silas was found abandoned in the bushes in Ethiopia, close to death, at only 10 days old. Today, all three children are healthy and happy.
For the 1,100 orphans and vulnerable children who attend school at Hedase Elementary in Ethiopia, the makeover of their school by the AGCI team will change lives forever, noted Hollen Frazier, executive director of the Portland agency.
“It was such an honor to build the new library, restrooms and play fields for the children of Hedase,” said Frazier. “But our work for these bright, eager and resourceful children has just begun. For many of the students, the paper and pencils we gave them may be all they have for the year. Today we need to fill their empty library shelves with books to provide a quality education, which will truly transform their lives with a brighter future.”
With the theme of “Give an Education: Transform a Life,” All God’s Children is raising funds to fill the Hedase School library with books, and signing up monthly sponsors to help provide ongoing support of orphans who need food, shelter and the required uniforms and school supplies to attend school in Ethiopia. It only takes as little as $1 a day to make a meaningful difference in a child’s life, according to AGCI.
Currently only 40 percent of Ethiopian children have a chance to attend school, and only 18 percent of that nation’s children are educated past the fifth grade. Even more startling is the fact that 80 percent of Ethiopian women can’t read. AGCI’s efforts are making a difference, said Frazier. Due to the recent improvements at Hedase, the school’s K-8 program has now expanded to offer children an education through 12th grade. Additional information on Hedase and ways to give can be found online at www.AllGodsChildren.org/hedase.