After learning about the death of her husband, Atalay left her twelve year old son, Dagne, in Addis Ababa on his own. For three weeks she traveled the Ethiopian countryside looking for her deceased spouse.
When she returned, she found the door to her house locked and another family living in her apartment. In disbelief, Atalay looked for her son and learned that a boy fitting Dagne’s description had been seen everyday in the garbage dump scavenging for food.
Arriving at the dump, she saw many children, and, then, a boy walked up to her. “I didn’t even recognize my own son. His face was covered in dirt, his hair was a mess, and his clothing was torn and ripped.”
With great joy, she was thankful they were reunited. However, they had only their former neighbors to turn to for support and slept underneath an outdoor stairwell of the same apartment building where they once had lived.
With no money after expensive funeral costs, Atalay and Dagne woke up at 4:00 AM each morning and walked to the nearby Kore garbage dump. Each long day allowed them to take home discarded food scraps and less than $1.25, if they were lucky.
“I was praying to the Lord for a better life everyday. When International Samaritan interviewed me for a scholarship to go to school and study, I felt like now I have a better future,” said Dagne.
Selam Terefe, International Samaritan’s Country Coordinator for Ethiopia, could not believe Dagne’s condition when she first met him.
“He only had one pair of pants; they were ripped down the front and were held loosely together with a paperclip. The neighborhood children would laugh at his pants because they did not cover him properly.”
The first thing Salem did after meeting Dagne was to buy him new pants and clothes; then, she enrolled him in International Samaritan’s scholarship program. Now, Dagne proudly attends school and is provided with the materials needed to become successful.
International Samaritan’s scholarship program will work with families to remove their children from the garbage dump environment and place them in classrooms to be educated.