Transformation Love: Transforming hearts, minds and souls… the story of three orphans

Transformation Love works in the Kore area of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This area is home to the very poor and the sick. Life expectancy is short. HIV is common in Kore. Many people suffer from extensive disabilities. Life is hard in Kore, especially to the children without fathers and even more so to those orphans who have lost both parents. This is the story of three such kids.

Left to Right, Selam, Pastor Dennis, Genet, Dawit
I want to introduce you to three beloved teenagers who have suffered much but are now a part of our Transformation Love family. Sherry and I consider these three our very own children, our son and daughters. They call us mom and dad. These three wonderful kids are examples of how Transformation Love is transforming hearts, minds, and souls. This is their story.

Meet Dawit, he is 18 now. He was born in Bechena in the countryside of northern part of Ethiopia. He never knew his father. He and his sister were raised by his mother who was very sick and couldn’t walk.
At around the age of 4, Dawit’s mother borrowed money from his grandmother so that they could travel to Addis Ababa and start what they thought would be a new life. His older sister stayed behind and Dawit and his mom moved. However when they got to Addis Ababa they soon realized that life was not going to be easy in the city. They ended up in Kore, the poorest part of town. They had to live by begging at the church. They were permitted by the church to live under a covering that was erected in the graveyard which was a part of the cultural burial process. 

Eventually, they were able to move into a shanty with an old woman who was also a beggar. But still Dawit’s mother continued to grow more ill. Dawit recalls the day that his mother was home alone and she began to hear noises and then by the miracle of God she was able to stand on her own. Able to walk now, she now began to work by collecting things from the dump that had been thrown out such as old fruit that she could sell to the poor. Just as it seemed that maybe things might be getting slightly better his mother got very sick. She was brought to some local missionaries who put her in the hospital and put Dawit in school. Unfortunately Dawit’s mother never got any better. She was eventually sent home from the hospital, unable to keep her or treat her. She was no longer able to leave her bed.

At the age of 8 years old, Dawit discovered his mother dead in her bed. Following her death, his grandmother came down to Addis Ababa from the countryside to collect all the belonging of his mother for the money that was owed to her and then she left Dawit behind to fend for himself at the young age of 8 with no family or place to live. Now this young boy would not only have to grieve the loss of his mother with no family to comfort him, but he would need to find a place to stay and a way to eat. A beggar lady Dawit calls “Nannie” took him in her home to care for him.  She was poor and had four of her own children to feed so there was never much food around to eat. Still, Dawit somehow survived.

Later a Christian woman who was HIV positive, named Kaseh took Dawit into her home. Her own children had been taken from her so Dawit was like a son. They were still poor, although the living situation was much improved. But a strong Christian woman living with a street boy who wanted nothing to do with God created tension between them. Dawit would skip out of church to go play. He began to hang out with bad kids on the streets doing things he shouldn’t. After three years with Kaseh and the fights getting more intense, Dawit left the home.

For a while he return to live with Nannie but the poverty found him scrounging for food from in the local garbage dump.

Dawit was placed into a home with a woman away from Kore and all his friends. Soon he discovered that this woman had men coming to her home regularly and this was not a good place for him. Dawit left this home and returned to Nannie again.

Tilahoun and Dawit - As close as brothers
Dawit got connected to Addis Kidan Church and became sponsored through Transformation Love. He began a discipleship class with our ministry leader Nebiyu and would later be baptized. Dawit was placed into a home with Zelam, a strong Christian mother and one of our volunteer social workers who has a son of her own, Ammanuel, who is sponsored by Transformation Love and a second street boy named Tilahoun who was sponsored by Transformation Love as well at the time. This became his new family for the coming years.

Once Dawit and Tilahoun had become teenagers, it was no longer possible for Zelam, being HIV+ to care for the boys so they were placed into our Transformation Love foster care home. Tilahoun has since gotten married, has a wife and baby boy and is living on his own. Dawit has passed his tenth grade exam this past year which allows him to continue school and move on to college. He attends a private college prep high school currently and is in the 11th grade. Throughout the course of Dawit’s high school years he has lead Christian groups in school and the ministry. Dawit loves Jesus. He loves to teach the Word of God and he is a powerful prayer warrior. Dawit hopes to become a Pastor just like his father and I couldn’t be happier with my son. 

Meet Selam, she is 17. Selam was born in Mekele in the northern part of Ethiopia. She has 2 brothers and 1 sister. Her mother and father both died by the time she was 4 and she really doesn’t remember either of them. She came to Addis Ababa to live with her aunt after her parents died. She started school but found living with her aunt was very difficult as she was abusive to Selam.

Her aunt’s neighbor was a Christian and was always playing gospel music and talking about Jesus. At the same time, in school Selam had friends who were Christians and they kept nagging her about Jesus. Selam wanted nothing to do with Christianity. As her friends put more pressure on her she got in a fight and hurt one of her friends, bruising her face badly. Selam felt terrible and went home crying. She felt bad that this had turned into a fight and she had hurt her friend.

Just a few years ago, she heard the Holy Spirit speak to her and call her. She surrendered her life over the God and became a Jesus follower. She began to pray all the time and loved spending time with God in prayer.

Selam’s aunt continued her abusive ways and would hit and kick her at night. Selam would wake up with scars and bruises. Becoming a Christian came at a cost with her aunt. When she revealed her faith she was forced to leave the home. She left Addis Ababa and went to live with her brother in northern Ethiopia.

But once her aunt told her brother about her faith in Jesus it became very difficult to stay in the home. The tension was great so Selam decided to leave and return to Addis Ababa and try to return to her schooling. Selam decided she would rather live as a Christian, serve as a maid and go back to school then to live in her current circumstances.

She lived with a lady as a maid but even in this home often fighting occurred over her faith. After about a year, following a fight with the woman, a Christian neighbor helped her find[DH1]  a missionary family she could live with. But after that family left the country, she had to find a new place to live and work as a maid. At the young age of 15, she was trying to go to school and serve as a maid. She was unable to fulfill all the duties they wanted from her and so she was cast out.

Selam was participating in a Christian teen’s fellowship group that Dawit our son helped lead. When she no longer had a place to live, Dawit brought Selam to Transformation Love while Sherry was visiting Ethiopia. Immediately Sherry took her in and found her a temporary place to stay. Within a few days we were able to place Selam into Transformation Love foster care home and get her sponsored. Today, Selam is in the 9th grade and thriving in high school. She is a strong Christian young lady. Selam serves Transformation Love through prayer and works as a volunteer with high school students in our ministry. We are proud to claim Selam as our daughter.
Selam and Genet - As close as sisters
Meet Genet, she is 17. Genet was born in Addis Ababa in the Kore area. She never knew her father and her mother died when she was only 7 years old. She never really knew her mother very well.  She grew up in very poor and isolated conditions. She was raised by her grandmother. However Genet has lived most of her life feeling insignificant, unimportant, unvalued, and therefore has never really had any hope for the future. She didn’t start school right away and struggled to keep up once she did. Genet lived in shanties her entire life, most of the time only eating once a day.

Genet never knew what it felt like to feel loved and cared for until she came to Transformation Love. But God’s love and the ministry of Transformation Love has changed her life. Genet told me she is so happy now to be with us and with Transformation Love. She is so excited to have friends and a family. Genet teaches in the children’s ministry at Transformation Love and spends every free moment she can hanging out and helping around the Transformation Love complex. Genet’s life has dramatically changed and for the first time she feels loved and valued. Genet is our daughter and we love her very much.

We hope you were encouraged and inspired by these three stories. We want to thank all of those who have been faithful sponsors, financial supporters, prayer partners, and ministry volunteers with Transformation Love. Your encouragement, love and partnership is essential to our ministry.


Pastor Dennis & Sherry Hadley

 If you would like to support Transformation Love ministry or become a child sponsor please contact us at or You can write to us or send checks to Transformation Love at 6979 Del Rio Drive San Jose, CA 95119. Online giving available on our website at

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