Letters from the
By Mike Tenbusch | September 2, 2020
I was stunned last week when Selam Terefe sent me the winning entry of the essay contest she organized for our scholars in Ethiopia. Azeb (pictured above), one of our 9th grade scholarship students, wrote:
What is the Perfect World for You?
Me and my friends were conceived, born and raised in a small neighborhood near the biggest garbage dump in Africa called Apartama. Since I was in her cozy womb, my mother considered me as a daughter of the whole district. Our neighbors didn’t disappoint either; they started spoiling me even before I took my first breath. My due date was a very anticipated event. Everyone was eager to see my little face.
And so the time came when my mother started labor. My father was the only one beside her at first. Thirty minutes passed and my mother started screaming because of the painful contractions. Our small house was flooded with mothers, fathers and youngsters from the hood. Everyone got busy. Some took the role of helping out my mom; the others comforted my dad, and some left to get a car to take her to the hospital. Helping each other in times of need is a treasured value we took from our forefathers.
My mom delivered a healthy baby weighing 3 kilograms. As she walked into her house after her brief hospital stay it was full of people who were very delighted to see me. My mom describes that day simply as… wonderful.
And so I started this thing called life in our cozy Apartama neighborhood. Mamush, our neighbor’s son, was the one who bought me my very first slipper which made a “sit sit “ sound whenever I took a step. I celebrated my first year’s stay on earth surrounded with all the kids around.
If I had to describe my childhood in one word, I would have easily picked the word, “perfect“ to sum it all up. Me and my friends used to share school materials, books and toys. There was no such thing as ”it’s mine.” We used to fight five times a day, and before it was noon you would see us already made up and playing together. As the scripture warns, we never let the sun go down on our anger.
Most days, my father used to buy all my friends and me a piece of candy as he was heading to work. This was a trend that we were accustomed to not only by father but by all the grownups around. My sneakiness would get a hold of me some days and I would hide my candy while others devoured theirs. Soon after, I would take it out and show off, naturally. Yet, almost every time, I would end up splitting it with my buddies.
Of all my friends, Emnet had a special place in my heart. We were best friends! Everyone knew they had to get past me first to get to her. We were thick as thieves. I remember one day as we were coming back from school, the slippers I was wearing decided to break off. We were miles away from home and walking with one leg was no option. Emnet got so desperate that she attempted to carry me on her back. Sweet Emnet, she couldn’t pass two blocks. Our little minds started working two times faster…, and Bingo! We came up with a brilliant idea. She would first take a long stride, take off her shoes, and hand them to me. I would take a long stride. give the shoes back and “Voila!” we would reach home. It worked!
Even though we got home later than most days, we reached there safely.
There are many other incidents like this where we were there for each other. How I miss that tender age where there was no trace of evilness, resentment, cunning, or robbery in our hearts, and we seldom thought of sickness and death.
But as life would have it, we grew up and I noticed we developed envious thoughts. We started to fight … steal … everything we hated seemed to rule in our heart. It breaks my heart to see families which once were very close rising against each other for no good reason. I hate the fact that I grew up. I hate it.
I would give anything to get back to my childhood days.
My childhood, which was so pure and innocent…
My childhood which was full of joy—
That time is what I call the perfect world.
Tears filled my eyes as I read this the first time. In this short reflection, Azeb captures the preciousness of life, the warmth of her mother, the love of a father, the beautiful bonds of friendship, and the sinister pressures of this world.
When I wrote you last week about the big IntSam Global 5k Run, I told you that we are doing it to buy tablets for 465 students like Azeb who are attending school from home because of the pandemic.
But that is only part of the story.
Azeb’s essay reminds me that the real reason why we run is because life is precious. Our own lives, our friends’ and families’, and those of strangers a world away. Like Emnet reaching back to share the shoes off her feet, let’s get our friends and family together and go for a walk or run while sharing just a little bit of what we have with Azeb and 464 of her peers across the world who could use a hand in this most difficult time.
By Mike Tenbusch | August 26, 2020
Ever since the pandemic hit in March, our board has committed to ensuring that no family in any one of the nine communities in which we work in five nations will go hungry. The International Samaritan community worldwide has helped to answer this call.
As we struggle here in the U.S. to figure out the safest options for our children to return to school this year, IntSam’s scholarship students in other nations are struggling to attend school on-line without the tools to get on-line. Over the last few weeks, we’ve created the IntSam Global 5K to help them get the tablets they need to stay in school.
Karen is one of the students I visited in Honduras last year, and she wrote us recently asking for our help.
I am 16 years old. I live with my mom and my two younger siblings in the El Ocotillo community of San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
My life has been difficult from the beginning. I had to work at the age of 6, washing other people’s clothes. My mother cannot read or write. She works at the municipal garbage dump, recycling materials such as cans and iron. With what little money she makes, she buys water and other family necessities. Thanks to International Samaritan’s food support since last March, she doesn’t have to worry about buying food. It has been a great blessing to our home.
Throughout this pandemic, the area in which I am struggling most is in my studies. When our schools closed in March, I was nervous because I had never had this experience of learning online. I struggled with getting connected because I don’t have a cellphone. At first, my older brother lent me his phone so that I could connect to my classes. But this was a challenge because if he wasn’t home, neither was his phone. This really set me back in my coursework, and I had to talk to my teachers to give me a chance to get caught up.
Now I’m using my sister-in-law’s phone to catch up on my overdue work and my current assignment. However, it’s still tough because the phone doesn’t have much space on it and it’s starting to break.
They haven’t said anything yet about us returning to school. On Thursdays, our class receives lectures, and during the week we have homework assignments, research, video presentations, and hand-made projects to do. All of my assignments require technology.
For Internet, my neighbor actually has WiFi, and I pay them 100 Lempiras ($4.00) a month to use it. I’m able to make these payments through the support of the Paso a Paso program. Without this support it would have been even more difficult.
With Covid, my mother has not returned to the garbage dump. She did this so that she could offer me more support by staying home and also taking care of my younger siblings. Her staying home really helps me focus on my studies, because before, I would be the one responsible for the household chores and caring for my siblings when she wasn’t home. With her being home, I can dedicate my time to my studies.
I thank GOD for the opportunity that the International Samaritan’s Paso a Paso program gave me for the scholarship over the past years. I was able to enter eighth grade with the scholarship, and I am taking advantage of this opportunity that they gave me to continue studying. I am currently in 9th grade; I know I can have a better future.
Karen, standing in front of her home.
Karen with Andrew Pawuk and me at her home during our visit last year.
Karen’s broken phone.
Please help Karen and 464 other scholarship students like her by Joining the Race to get every student a tablet who needs one. Together with our team leaders in each nation, we have determined that a tablet will give our students better options than a phone at less than the cost of a laptop. The average cost of a tablet across five nations is $300, so we created the race as a fun way to raise the $140,000 needed for 465 of them.
Please know that we are continuing to make sure all of our families have enough food and water to survive. Our board members and long-time donors continue to step up and step in to make sure their needs are met. As a community, we will have covered almost a million dollars in unexpected costs this year because of the pandemic. And these scholarship students need your help now on this vital need to access their school work.
Please run or walk in solidarity with them.
Please give or raise $300 to cover the cost of one tablet.
Please lead a team or join a team to cover at least five tablets with friends, family members or co-workers.
We will get through this together.
By Mike Tenbusch | September 2, 2020 I was stunned last week when Selam Terefe sent me the winning entry of the essay contest she organized for our scholars in Ethiopia. Azeb (pictured above), one of our 9th grade scholarship students, wrote: What is the Perfect...
By Mike Tenbusch | August 26, 2020 Ever since the pandemic hit in March, our board has committed to ensuring that no family in any one of the nine communities in which we work in five nations will go hungry. The International Samaritan community worldwide has helped...
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We have a unique community here at International Samaritan that is made up of 3,000 people across the United States and indeed across the world who have the heart of a Samaritan. We are instruments of change, and we are needed now more than ever. Our hearts grieve...
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