Love In Action: Teen turns coffee to water

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Eden Wild is a headstrong teenager with a calling. With the help of her parents, she has created a life-changing ministry that has direct ties to her own roots.

Eden was adopted from Ethiopia at the age of two after being orphaned at birth. Her adoptive parents Lt. Colonels Ivan and Jennifer Wild had already raised three children before Eden came into their lives. As officers in The Salvation Army, they were accustomed to God’s subtle nudges guiding their lives and ministry, however, this call to adopt was anything but.

The epic story of their daughter’s birth, and the circumstances that left her orphaned, have changed the course of all of their lives forever.  Watch this testimony of how one family’s love has grown into a vital ministry for thousands facing poverty.

Below is a transcript of the video edited for readability.

Eden Wild: My name is Eden Wild and I was born in a village in Ethiopia and my parents got me when I was two. When I was little my dad used to sit at my bed and he would pray with me and stuff and then he would tell me the story of how they got me and when he would end it, he would always say, “And then I opened the van and saw the most beautiful girl in the world.” 

So I don’t remember much of the orphanage but I do get told stories from my parents and stuff they have written down from workers and stuff and they always said that I was sassy and energetic and always getting into trouble with a friend named Brutacon that I have.

Ivan Wild: Look at this. This shows the person, this shows your personality. Remember this when we went back to the orphanage and you got upset? 

Jennifer Wild: Yeah, cause they told you that wasn’t your bed anymore. 

Ivan Wild: You went over there and you sat down on the bed and you kind of pouted like you know this is my bed. They thought you were quite the character though when you were, when you were there like when we brought you back to visit. They all came out and were all crazy about you.

When we heard what the meaning behind her birth name—tarik and amharic. Tarik means story or history but it’s not just like a fairy tale story. The literal translation is like epic story, like this incredible amazing story.

Jennifer Wild: During childbirth, her mom had passed away and so her aunt basically saved her because she was not getting given the care that she, a newborn, should have been given. 

Ivan Wild: They just couldn’t, they couldn’t provide that. 

So they arranged it when we were at the orphanage to actually meet the aunt and a couple of the siblings that she was taking care of.

Yeah, so we filmed the message from Eden’s aunt to Eden. 

I had it translated and basically, it said, “Hello, Tarik. How are you? Your mom passed away and I had no capacity to raise you. I had to give you away. I’m so sorry that I was not fortunate to raise you. I hope to see you while I am still alive. I love you and your mom very much. If I don’t get a chance to see you, may you grow up healthy and blessed. I love you.”

One of the reasons that Eden’s birth mom, you know, unfortunately, passed away was the lack of clean water and medical supplies. 

Eden Wild: There’s a statistic in Ethiopia that 1 in 15 kids in Ethiopia dies before their fifth birthday and it’s really just a combination of the lack of access to clean water, the lack of access to health care, poor sanitation. And not knowing who is that statistic of my own family, the communities that I come from?

Ivan Wild: While it’s a tragic, sad story for Eden’s mom, you know what? God can redeem anything and now we’re part of that story and so we just really feel strongly that well, we can do something about it.

Eden Wild: Dad, we have an order.

Roy Wild: What kind?

Eden Wild: A couple years ago, my dad got a coffee roaster for his birthday and through some trial and error, a couple fires—not a ton, but a couple—we started roasting the coffee and then my dad started drinking and he was like, “OK, this is, like, pretty good.”

Ivan Wild: And then I thought, “Yeah, I wonder if we could sell this?” And Eden was the first one to say well, we should do something with it. 

Eden Wild: We wanted to do something good with the money so we looked at different organizations and different projects to put it through and then we came across Water to Thrive, which is how we got the well started.

Ivan Wild: This is the picture of the very first well, hopefully of many wells that we’re going to do. 

And then when we saw the pictures, the kids they wrote signs back to Eden and then I saw these little girls getting water from it—I think all of us just teared up. The well that we built through Water to Thrive cost us $5,000 and that well is serving about 1,800 people right now that are having access to clean water. 

So we went back through some of the adoption files and stuff and we were able to find the last name of my biological mom and we named, we dedicated the well in her name.

Ivan Wild: We’ve always felt it important for her to connect with, you know, where she’s from, her heritage, her culture. 

Jennifer Wild: You know, we’ve always been open with her about where she comes from and if she ever has questions… 

Ivan Wild: For us, it’s really important that she just makes that connection. It’s because who she is. It’s who God created her. We’re just blessed to have her part of our family but we don’t want her to lose that aspect of it.

Eden Wild: The coffee company is called Buna Tarik Roasters. Tarik is my middle name and it means story. And then buna is for coffee and it means coffee with the story. One bag of coffee helps support someone to have clean water for the next 20 years so you really are changing someone’s story.

Buna Tarik Roasters has been my way of being able to give back to not only the community but also my family and to the kids that are in those orphanages still. 

To see these kids smiling and happy has been really cool and to see that these are real people, these aren’t just numbers, these are real people who have been really, like, touched and affected by this. 

So we’ve gone from just coffee beans and now we do hoodies, mugs and then we did bracelets. With those bracelets, we invested the money upfront for the kids and then they made those bracelets and we’re selling them and giving the money back to them to reinvest into their communities and create sustainable futures.

With my parents being officers, I’ve always had this big family in the Army and a lot of which has supported me through this coffee and these water projects. It’s been really cool to just see a bunch of people come around me.

Ivan Wild: Well, I think as a parent, you know, we’re always excited to see what all our children are doing and the successes that they have but when it comes to Eden, it’s just amazing to see

when she came from Ethiopia and how she adapted and adopted us, if you will, and then going into the coffee business and now giving back to the community that she came from—I mean, it’s just, it’s just amazing and as a parent it’s just…knowing that God is using your child to bless others in a way that is unimaginable. 

Eden Wild: I’m just 13 and this has grown to be a pretty big thing and that’s, like, really rewarding and exciting to see how much this has affected real people’s lives.

Do Good:

  • Find coffee and more from Buna Tarik Roasters.
  • See more videos like this in our video feed.
  • Did you know The Salvation Army served more than 31 million Americans last year fighting hunger, homelessness, substance abuse and more—all in a fight for good? Where can you help? Take our quiz to find your cause and learn how you can join in today. 
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