Dawit is different.
I don't mean because his skin is darker and he doesn't speak English.
He is a five year old whose life experience has only given him an advantage in one area – resilience.
Dawit has learned to learn because he has never been allowed to get comfortable.
After his mother had to relinquish her little boy who suffered from malnutrition and pneumonia, his life has been one long series of adjustments.
Learn how to get by in an orphanage. Move. Get on a plane and fly to a group home hundreds of miles away. Move. Learn a new system with 24 new kids. Move. Learn how to survive as the youngest of 27 kids in yet another new house. Get on a plane and fly to America with a new family. Try to learn a new language and figure out how life works with a complete family.
It is fun to watch him grow and develop. His smile lights up the room when he wakes up and doesn't stop until his eyes close to end the day.
Dawit is finally able to play sports like his big brother. He got very lucky because his coaches are patient and understanding.
Unlike his big brother, I don't have to coach Dawit to be more aggressive. Instructions before practice include, "Don't play in the dirt. Do what you coaches say. Don't knock your friends down. Don't get a drink until everyone else does."
Sometimes he listens.
It is hard when you only understand a little bit about what is going on. He always tends to start in the back of the line and watch other kids. He watches and learns. Then he tries to do what he is supposed to.
Saturday he plays his first game.
His journey from an orphanage in Addis Ababa to a kid's soccer field in Augusta, Kan. has changed his life.
And like the story of the starfish, it has meant everything to him.
But as Dawit is worrying about kicking the ball the right way and what he will get for a treat after the game, many kids just like him are still waiting for their journey to begin.
But for the grace of God, Dawit could still be in that orphanage. Millions are in Ethiopia alone. Worldwide, the problem is overwhelming and the problem is outpacing the solution.
The cycle of poverty, hunger and disease has ensnared many families and children.
We can help. But the answer isn't simple.
Dawit was rescued. Many more need to be rescued. But it is unreasonable to expect 5 million orphans in Ethiopia to find a home. The 138 million orphans in the rest of the world only make that hill steeper to climb.
Page 2 of 2 - The cycle has to be broken.
The Lelt Foundation (www.leltfoundation.org) is trying to help bring widows and orphans together in modified family units to help both groups. They have also teamed up with Trees of Glory to help poverty-stricken students in the Repi School and their families get the education and medical care they will need to make it on their own.
This group works to help break that cycle that turns today's impoverished children into tomorrow's impoverished parents.
Children go to school. They get tutored. They are given hope for a future they never could imagine before.
For less than the price we pay for one evening out, an entire family can be sponsored for a month. Every dime donated to this organization goes to help the children and families touched by the program.
My wife and I couldn't adopt every child in those orphanages in Addis Ababa.
But we adopted one.
We may not be able to help every orphan or needy family. But we can help many of them if we work together.
They don't have enough food. They don't have enough opportunity. But they do have a way out.
You can make that sure they find it.
Kent Bush is the Augusta Gazette Publisher, a columnist and blogger for the GateHouse Media Network. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.