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Published March 14, 2014, 11:01 PM

Mission trip to Ethiopia changes Kindred family's life forever

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A mission trip to Ethiopia less than a year ago has changed one family's life forever. 17-year-old Kennedy Odegaard of Kindred befriended two young boys from a trash dump community, and eventually convinced her parents to take a trip and meet them.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A mission trip to Ethiopia less than a year ago has changed one family's life forever.

17-year-old Kennedy Odegaard of Kindred befriended two young boys from a trash dump community, and eventually convinced her parents to take a trip and meet them.

Friday night, they brought them home.

Heidi Odegaard, Kennedy's mother, says a year ago, she never could have dreamed this would happen.

But after meeting Wasihun and Nati over Christmas, they started the process of getting them student visas, so the two boys could come and live here.

The 18-hour plane ride from Ethiopia to America is a long trip, but getting here has actually been a quick journey for these two.

Kennedy Odegaard/Met the boys on Mission Trip: "So surreal, I didn't think this was ever possible. I think I just met them less than a year ago and now they're home."

Wasihun/Traveled from Ehtiopia: "I'm excited because I'll get a better education here."

12-year-old Wasihun and 14-year-old Nati are from Korah, a trash dump community near Ethiopia's capital.

There, they faced extreme poverty and no running water; many in the community have leprosy, HIV, or tuberculosis some dig in the trash for food or items to sell.

Odegaard: "I just fell in love with them both."

Kennedy Odegaard met the two on a mission trip last July.

When she came home to Kindred, she did nothing but talk about the two energetic, smiling kids she met in one of the world's poorest countries.

Eventually, she convinced her parents that the whole family needed to meet them; so they made the trip over Christmas.

Heidi Odegaard/Kennedy’s Mother: "By day six of our trip we knew that they needed to come to America. They're both so bright, and they both deserve a chance at a good education."

They started the process of getting student visas for the two boys.

Just a few short months later, they're here, their infectious smiles hardly ever left their faces as they were greeted at the airport by friends, future classmates, and their new family.

Wasihun: "Our life was miserable, and they changed our lives. Now we are a family. And we are so happy."

The two will be students at Oak Grove middle school.

The family also started an organization called Project Give Five to help provide food, shelter, and education to those in Korah.

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