Liyunesh Bilelegn, 11 years old, is preparing to enter the 4th grade and feeling very excited, thanks to her scholarship from International Samaritan. “With the Ethiopian New Year just around the corner, the fields are already starting to bloom with ‘Adey Abeba’, seasonal bright yellow wild flowers. They herald the Ethiopian New Year and for me, are a symbol of hope and new beginnings. I have always loved ‘Adey Abeba’ but this year, seeing fields filled with these beautiful flowers is even more special for me because with a new year, I am going to start a new grade.”

Liyunesh says this is a new experience. Just a few years ago, she would have dreaded the coming of a new year. Despite the changes happening around her, nothing would change for her; she was not able to attend school. “When my friends and neighborhood kids were busy buying uniforms and exercise books, I would always be left out.”

Today, Liyunesh is a recipient of the Step by Step scholarship from International Samaritan, which allows her to attend Hibir Primary School. She loves her teachers and classmates there, and is ready for the new year to begin with her uniform, school bag, and school materials. “I am counting the days until we start school with anticipation,” she says. She is one of the best students in her class and hopes to become a teacher when she grows up.

Liyunesh remembers the day she learned she would be receiving her scholarship. “It is the happiest I have ever been. I felt like my prayers had been answered.” She thanks International Samaritan’s donors for “a new year, a new grade, and new things to learn!”