Through the Lens | Lincoln Vallett (Ethiopia)

When I met her she was skin and bones, swimming in clothes that probably used to fit her before she got sick. She was then sixty pounds at age fourteen and looked like a child half her age. We took her to the hospital before she would go in for heart surgery. She’d clearly been there many times before, enough to trace her own way around the chaos of the city that surrounded the wing. Her skinny limbs took her until she was almost out of my sight before I called her name, “Amarech!” to wait for the rest of us. She turned around, with those widened circle eyes and a quiet sense of impatience you could expect from any pre-teen.


She was one of Lincoln’s girls. And she loved him like a brother. She would ride in the back seat of his car, body thrown at the smallest bump in the road. She would speak to him softly in her native tongue, often times poking fun at him with a toothy grin. Lincoln had been taking her to her doctor appointments for several months before I got there, and shortly after I met her, the day came for her serious operation.


For the past year and a half, Lincoln has been living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He works under a sponsorship advocacy organization called Ordinary Hero, but more of his time is spent investing in individuals within the community, mainly young women and girls. Amongst them was Amarech.


He stayed in the hospital most of that day, speaking to surgeons, her father and volunteers as I sat with her, legs tangled on a hospital bed with a pile of crayons and a coloring book. It was the day before her surgery and the last day I saw her.


Lincoln was there when she passed away during recovery a few days later. He was the one to carry her body after her soul had left it.


There is so much to be said about individuals who invest their life, love and kindness so freely. I spent a month alongside Lincoln and witnessed firsthand the effect he has on people, particularly this little girl. It falls in line perfectly with what he’s chosen to do with his life: to love others in its purest form.


Upon his arrival to Ethiopia, he never sought young women and girls out but found that they would regularly be put in his paths, one after another. His relationship with these girls can best be described as a big brother, and he primarily ministers to those undergoing major health issues, poverty or any form of helplessness. He works to get them back on their feet while supporting them and loving them with abounding grace in the midst of it all.


Every day looks different for Lincoln, not surprisingly. He could be visiting one of the many friends he’s made in their houses made of mud, or helping load monthly food supply onto the backs of old women. He could be leading a bible study for the youth, or anything in between. But when I think back on the days I spent in Ethiopia, I see him from the eyes of the passenger seat, driving through veins of the city on dusted streets to different orphanages. I see children calling his name anywhere we go in thick accents and chasing after the car with wild arms. I see mothers and grandmothers light up at the sight of him, with widened smiles as they offer us coffee in tiny cups. This is the impact of love.


“At the end of the day, the driving force that’s going to change someone’s life is love,” he says when asked what he’s learned since living in Ethiopia. “That’s what Jesus did. He radically transformed people’s lives but he did it through love. He did it through acts of compassion. You can’t change the world by yourself but you can change the world for one person. Showing love for one person can change the world because that act of love multiplies.”


I think we all have an inherent desire to change the world and make it a better place. It’s easy to look at the suffering around us and feel the weight of it heavy upon our chests. We want to, but don’t know how to help the Earth’s beautiful people. But here’s the sweet and simple truth: it starts with one.


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*To start changing the world for one, look into sponsoring children and families! Click Here



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