Letters from the
By Mike Tenbusch | January 15, 2021
We lost one of our scholars last week. Asdrubal Barroso was only 13-years-old. He was born in Cuba but moved with his parents to Nicaragua four years ago in search of better opportunities. They settled in a small home in Villa Guadalupe, the community surrounding Managua’s garbage dump, where his father found work to provide for his family.
Selam Terefe, kneeling third from left, with some of the parents at our community center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during a service immersion trip in March 2020.
At the age of nine, Asdrubal stopped going to school and started working in the dump alongside his dad. They labored together for almost a year. But Asdrubal wanted more. One day, he saw Kevin Lopez, our team leader in Nicaragua, in the village and approached him, saying, “I heard you’re the guy who helps kids. Can you help me? I want to go to school.”
Kevin spent some time talking with Asdrubal and could see immense potential in him. He was quite curious and wanted to be a doctor one day. Soon after that conversation, Kevin enrolled Asdrubal in our Paso a Paso scholarship program so that he could begin attending school again, this time in a private, Catholic school, where he excelled for the last three years.
Asdrubal’s mom worked in a small bakery in the village, and he began working with her every day after school. Whenever he saw Kevin, he would call out to him, “Come, have some Cuban coffee with us!” And then Asdrubal’s mom would give Kevin a piece of bread while the three had coffee together, and Asdrubel would pepper Kevin with questions, trying to speak to him in English, about things he was learning in class.
The kids on the local baseball team in Villa Guadalupe always wanted Asdrubal to play on their team because he was from Cuba, and “we all think Cubans are good at baseball,” Kevin told me. While he couldn’t join the team because of his work, Asdrubal played with them often and made good friends in Nicaragua.
Last week, Asdrubal cried out to his mom because of the pain that was searing in his belly. She took him immediately to the local hospital and instinctively knew that his appendix may have burst. But he never got to see a doctor. COVID has returned to Managua with a vengeance, and the hospital’s waiting room was filled with people hoping to be seen. He died that afternoon from peritonitis in a chair in the hospital’s hallway.
Please keep Asdrubal’s parents in your prayers. He was their only child, and they are struggling horribly right now. I find comfort in knowing that Kevin is by their side, letting them know through his love that they are not alone. We will continue to do all that we can, through our prayers and through our work each day, to support Asdrubal’s parents and to give life to the talents of children like him away from the work inside the dumps.
By Mike Tenbusch | December 31, 2020
Have you ever lain in bed at night trying to figure out how to pay a bill? Only to fall asleep and keep waking up with that bill on your mind as the peace of sleep gets overtaken by the anger of insufficiency.
It’s a horrible, horrible feeling, and I can’t even imagine what it would feel like going to bed hungry and not knowing if we would have enough food to eat, or even some water for our most basic needs.
I think this is how Birzu felt when I visited with him in Ethiopia during our last visit in March, just before all travel stopped.
Birzu, a father of one of International Samaritan’s scholarship recipients in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, about the state of water in his area.
You don’t have to speak Amharic to understand his point, but his words are just as powerful in English:
“We pay (25 cents) per jar. The water we buy, we only use it for ourselves. These animals, these animals you see here: we don’t share the water with them. They will die of thirst. It’s summer time and it’s hot and warm. We have a water tanker. An organization bought it for us, but it’s empty. What shall we do with it? It has been long since we got water. Water is life! Look at me I am weak. Both my toes and fingers are deformed. My toes are wounded. I need water to wash. We all desperately need water!”
Birzu’s exhortation was not in vain. Thanks to two families who made significant, life-changing investments, we were able to build water wells this year for the first time in our organization’s history—bringing fresh, safe water to the surface for 100,000 people living in the garbage dump community called Kore in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
And the prayers of parents across all five nations were answered positively as well. Thanks to 1,000 more families who also made life-changing gifts to International Samaritan last year, we similarly made sure that none of our scholarship students’ families went hungry, giving them not just food and water but peace of mind in some of the most dangerous of times.
It has been an exceptionally difficult year, and exceptional people like you have made all the difference.
If you have a moment, please see the video below to feel the impact in the life of just one family.
By Mike Tenbusch | January 15, 2021 We lost one of our scholars last week. Asdrubal Barroso was only 13-years-old. He was born in Cuba but moved with his parents to Nicaragua four years ago in search of better opportunities. They settled in a small home in Villa...
By Mike Tenbusch | December 31, 2020 Have you ever lain in bed at night trying to figure out how to pay a bill? Only to fall asleep and keep waking up with that bill on your mind as the peace of sleep gets overtaken by the anger of insufficiency. It’s a horrible,...
By Mike Tenbusch | December 4, 2020 There are a couple of lessons I learned early in life, and each came at some pretty painful personal expense. The first is that you have to change the oil in your car, especially if your car is really old and leaks oil. I learned...
By Mike Tenbusch | November 19, 2020 One of the unique features of International Samaritan is the faithfulness of the families who have been giving to the mission—and leading it—since our inception over a quarter century ago. We have only had three board chairs in...
By Mike Tenbusch | November 5, 2020 While we in the US wait patiently for election results, our friends across the world are confronting different challenges. Hurricane Eta has pummeled Nicaragua and Honduras since Tuesday afternoon. Driving rains and rising rivers...
By Mike Tenbusch | September 29, 2020 For over 12 years now, Angelica Cancinos has been the conscience of our work through her leadership of our Paso a Paso scholarship program in Guatemala. I met with her in Guatemala before taking this position, and the power of...
International Samaritan is a nonprofit organization with the designation 501(c)(3). Our headquarters is located in Ann Arbor Michigan.