By Mike Tenbusch | February 25, 2022

When we started our strategic planning process in 2019, one of the five-year goals we set was to give our scholars the spiritual training and leadership development they need to become leaders in their communities.  I’m writing today to share the joy of what that looks like a few years in.

Yeshiwas was one of the first graduates of our scholarship program in Ethiopia.  He was born in the countryside of Ethiopia in 1996.  His mom passed away when he was two, and his father died when he was five.  To avoid starvation, his older sister brought him with her to the capital city of Addis Ababa, 200 miles away, where work was more plentiful.

Here’s Yeshi in our newsletter from a few years ago!

Because so many people had that same need and idea, the only place they could find work was in Kore, the city’s sprawling dump.  From an early age, Yeshiwas worked in the dump during the day and then went out to the streets to shine shoes in the afternoons.  That, combined with his sister’s work in the dumps, helped them stay alive and kept him in public schools.

When it was time for college, Yeshiwas walked four miles to school and four miles home and only ate one meal each day, but that didn’t bother him.  “Food was a luxury,” he said.  The problem was that he didn’t have the money needed to make required photocopies for his classes, so he had to borrow his friends’ copies after they were done reading them. 

A scholarship from International Samaritan gave Yeshi the support he needed, and he ran with it, always earning one of the top grades in his classes.  After graduation, he became our team’s first full-time office manager, guiding us faithfully through a time of tremendous growth.

This past Sunday, Yeshi married Genet, whom he met in college, and they have begun their new life in a small apartment together.  “Because I wasn’t raised in a proper family setting, that has always been my drive—to give a good life to my children one day.  I want them to be raised by a mother and a father,” Yeshi told me.

Yeshiwas and his wife, Genet, sharing cake at their wedding.

Yeshi believes that he will be a good father one day by being loyal, honest and genuine in all that he  does every day. “You have to work on yourself.  Your children will learn from you and become the person they should be,” he told me.

One of the things that has become painfully clear to me reading the life stories of our scholars and the notes from the conversations that our team members have with them is that the absence of good men in their homes is often one of the biggest challenges they face.  Many of them have faced hunger and homelessness because of missing fathers and then suffer the trauma that follows when abusive boyfriends take their place. 

As one of International Samaritan’s first college graduates, Yeshi is leading the way for others to become leaders in their community—not because of what he does in the community, but because of who he is each day at home.

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