At the age of 12, Samuel Liben’s life was changed physically and spiritually by missionaries visiting Korah. He went from being a hopeless child unsure of his next meal to a driven young adult with a vision to bring change to his hometown. He now does the Lord’s work of serving the severely poor in Korah with a joyful heart, making a difference every single day to the people of the garbage dump.
The biggest difference between Korah and other dump communities in the world is that it is home to a large population of lepers. Because of this sickness, they are social outcasts with health issues, so they flock together in a community that no outsiders want to visit. Samuel is the son of lepers although he personally has never been affected with the condition. He knows from his loved ones how lepers are further driven into poverty.
Reflecting on the extreme poverty he once lived in, he said “It puts a yoke on you that you have no confidence you will live past today. You become a slave to your needs.” He knows from events in his own community how poverty leads to desperation and a cycle of making poor life choices.
He remembers often staying away from home so he and his family did not have to see each other suffer. It broke his parents’ hearts that they could not provide more as much as it broke Samuel’s heart to see them so hopeless. This is the norm in Korah, and children grow up believing they are forever bound to poverty.
Unfortunately, most of the children he grew up with also suffered terribly: no food, dire living conditions, and a growing hopelessness that dump life was all they would ever know. He saw others his own age dying from starvation or poison at the dump. He vividly remembers finding dead infants at the dump and giving them a proper burial. This is Samuel’s experience from his childhood, nearly 20 years ago. The community has not changed.
Having escaped dump life through the mission work of others, Samuel is now dedicated to doing the same for others. Having “lived the life” and using the power of Christ’s love, Samuel feels that he can make a substantial difference in Korah. His accomplishments to date show that is true: He is a leader in sending 500 children from the dump to a top Ethiopian boarding school where they are safe, fed, and receiving an education. This is just one accomplishment out of many.
Samuel wants to alleviate the extreme poverty in Korah by educating more children, providing job training to adults, and securing programs that bring medical treatment, recreation, and self-sufficiency to the community. He is currently studying for U.S. college entrance exams, something he never thought that he would do.
International Samaritan in proud to partner with Samuel in his work. We are developing an Ethiopia Scholarship Fund that will continue sending children from the dump to school.
How can you help? International Samaritan is accepting donations to fund scholarships, which are $2000 per child, per year. You can call the office at (734) 222-0701 for more information or visit Please keep this new mission in your prayers.