Note: We are committed to respecting and uplifting our scholars. Due to some stories containing sensitive information, we redact or change the names of the scholars, their parents, their schools, and other details that could compromise their anonymity.

The Story of Ebo and Dani

This story is from and written from the perspective of Selam Terefe, our program director in Ethiopia.

The first thing we noticed when we walked into Ebo’s one room house are the drawings posted on the clay walls: Some were drawn with pencil, others with pen, but they were all so good! There were more drawings in the notebook we found in his notebook, wedged between the family’s couch and his bed.

There was very little in the home: Besides the bed and the couch, there was just one small, beatdown cupboard. That was it – the one room could not hold anything else. Ebo’s mom, Dani, led us into the room and we sat on the small couch while she sat on the bed and faced us, ready to answer all our questions.

Dani told us that she has worked in the garbage dump for 11 years, picking up plastics and selling them. However, both the recent landslide and the new management coming into the garbage dump have made her work very challenging. She told us she’s even resorted to begging to raise her son, though she has found a way to make a little bit of money through weaving: Dani can make handmade scarves from scratch even though she lost her two fingers on her right hand as a kid due to a fire.

“I came to Addis Ababa from [REDACTED] when she was 15 seeking a better life,” she told us, “And I met Ebo’s father in Addis Ababa after he came from [REDACTED] for the same reason. We met while I worked as a maid in the house he was living in and we soon had Ebo. Ebo was my first child, but he was his father’s sixth. Ebo’s father and I separated when Ebo was only four. Ebo was… challenging as a child, so he was held back in the first grade, but he’s doing so well now.”

Dani is very supportive of her son’s education. The way she talks about him, it is evident how much she loves him. She sadly told us that she had a lot of people telling her to get rid of Ebo when he was younger and more difficult, but that never stopped her from trying to provide for her only son. She almost did lose him three years ago in a car accident, and she is so grateful he is with her and well.

At this point in our conversation with Dani, Ebo walked into the room. He politely greeted us with a smile, and we started talking. We asked him about his drawings first, of course – he told us that he drew all of them and we were so impressed. We took time going through the entire notebook and Ebo explained to us the meaning behind each drawing. My favorite was a drawing with the face of a man facing a woman with a heart in between them and flame from below, captioned “True love has lots of enemies”. He told us it was based on a story he wants to write one day. The notebook was filled with art, some bits of writing, and even song lyrics he’d written, so it was not surprising when Ebo told us he wants to be an artist when he grows up.  Dani told us that, while she’s supportive, she would prefer if he focused on his studies because there isn’t money in art. She said she regrets not going to school herself and wants her son to be successful.

Ebo is heeding his mother’s wishes and focusing on academics – his report cards were clear indications. He scored 17th from 48 kids his first semester, and he’s found other classes to take outside of school. He even started going to church to take lessons recently and even participates in art and acting competitions he can find. He goes with kids in his neighborhood once a month to participate in poetry presentations, too.

When Ebo talks about his passion for the arts, this shy boy he becomes louder, more confident, and he has this fire in his eyes. He really loves it! We were so moved by this fifteen-year-old boy who wants nothing more than to follow his dreams and explore his talent, and his mother who has done so much to support him.

The Story of Ebo and Dani

This story is from and written from the perspective of Selam Terefe, our program director in Ethiopia.The first thing we noticed when we walked into Ebo’s one room house are the drawings posted on the clay walls: Some were drawn with pencil, others with pen, but they...

A Letter from Emanuel

Hello, I am Emanuel. I am 20 years old. When I was in my mother's womb, she did not want me to be born, so she hit her belly and took medication to cause a miscarriage, but I was born anyway. However, I was so badly damaged that when I was born I had to be...

A Letter from Selene

My name is Selene. I was born and raised in the countryside by my mother and stepfather. I was sexually abused by my stepfather. I was sleeping in my bed and in the middle of the night I found my stepfather next to me in the bed. I was shouting when he tried to...

A Letter from Terry

My name is Terry. I am 13 years old and an 8th grader at [REDACTED] School. When I grow up, I want to be an engineer and get a well-paying job. My mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer a couple of years ago. Before she got ill, she used to work as a washer, hand...

A Letter from Nora

Note: Since this letter was written, Nora has graduated from high school and started studying at University. Everything started when my parents got together. They lived in Zone 18 [of Guatemala City] with my grandmother and my uncles, who lived lives full of luxury...

A Letter from Zoe

Greetings. I am Zoe. I am 10 years old and am a fourth grader in [REDACTED] Primary School. I live with 7 of my family members. Our house is always full of laughter and happiness. To an outsider, it would seem like we have everything in the world. I don’t think even...

I.S. Interview on Ave Maria Radio

International Samaritan President, Mike Tenbusch, and Ethiopia Program Director, Selam Terefe, sat down for morning coffee with Ave Maria Radio in April, 2019, to talk about our programs.

LIVE at Saint Mary Student Parish

In 2019, the International Samaritan program leaders from Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua hosted a community event at Saint Mary Student Parish where they discussed their experiences of working alongside garbage dump communities.

$2 Day at Nest Preschool

In honor of International Samaritan’s Fast2Change campaign, preschoolers at The Nest Early Childhood Center had a $2 lunch day to raise awareness about wealth disparity around the world.



Day 2
Leya and Helena
Notre Dame Academy
Kingston, Jamaica

Today was our second day in Riverton. We started the day off by interacting with the children, while assisting them in their school projects. This was a great way for us to get to know the teachers and students personally. Later in the day, part of our group was sent to collect supplies and start painting a shelter for one of the members in the community. It was truly eye opening to see how helpful and grateful the people were during our first project. We are excited to continue getting to know everyone and to continue our work here!
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Day 1
Sydney, Cassidy and Grace
Riverton City, Jamaica

Today was our first full day in Jamaica! We started our day by meeting the children at the Riverton School and the kids immediately embraced us as we walked off the bus. This was followed by a tour around the community to get us acclimated to our future work projects. This tour inspired and excited us to work tirelessly in our efforts this upcoming week. The smiles on the children’s faces are a motivation and a testimony to the work International Samaritan does and we can’t wait to be a part of it!
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Noemi was born 18 years ago in Managua, Nicaragua. She and her family lived in the La Chureca dumpsite, on the banks of Managua Lake where her father often fished to supplement the work he did at the dumps. One day, when Noemi was only three months old, his feet became entangled in the net he threw into the water, and it pulled him in with it. He could not swim, so the weight of the net took him under the water where he drowned.⠀
Forced to raise Noemi by herself, her mother Ruth followed in her late husband’s footsteps and took up recycling and repurposing materials from the dumpsite. She often had to bring Noemi with her. ⠀

“All the time, I was dirty,” Noemi recalls. “I went with my mom to pick up plastic, but sometimes we didn’t find anything. No plastic. No tires. Nothing. So we couldn’t eat unless we found some food in the dump. I was scared when I was there because a lot of times kids die in the dump.”⠀


Our Summer Newsletter is available on our website! This issue has the stories of five of our scholarship students from around the world, and features Noemi from Honduras. Read her full story, and the stories of our other scholarship students, by visiting

Photo by Timothy Bouldry.
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