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HEAR FROM OUR SCHOLARS
Scholarship Students Worldwide
4 schools of medical care provided on medical missions
Service trips conducted
Wealth increase for scholarship graduates
Patients served on Medical Missions
3 service groups can complete a home
FROM OUR VOLUNTEERS
I’m so happy that I went on this trip. The joy that people have in Guatemala is incredible. It’s bittersweet: When I went to Guatemala and I was serving people, it was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be that happy again.
Medical Missions like this allow you to come home and look at your own patients a different way. I think it’s very rewarding, both personally and professionally.
We did this exercise where we had to buy a week’s worth of groceries on $7, and it was absolutely eye-opening. It was really hard, and what I came up with wasn’t food that I wanted to eat. But that’s the reality for them. I get a Starbucks every morning that costs as much as their food for their whole family for the whole week.
Note: We are committed to respecting and uplifting our scholars. Due to some stories containing sensitive information, we redact or change the names of the scholars, their parents, their schools, and other details that could compromise their anonymity.
This story is from and written from the perspective of Selam Terefe, our program director in Ethiopia.
The first thing we noticed when we walked into Ebo’s one room house are the drawings posted on the clay walls: Some were drawn with pencil, others with pen, but they were all so good! There were more drawings in the notebook we found in his notebook, wedged between the family’s couch and his bed.
There was very little in the home: Besides the bed and the couch, there was just one small, beatdown cupboard. That was it – the one room could not hold anything else. Ebo’s mom, Dani, led us into the room and we sat on the small couch while she sat on the bed and faced us, ready to answer all our questions.
Dani told us that she has worked in the garbage dump for 11 years, picking up plastics and selling them. However, both the recent landslide and the new management coming into the garbage dump have made her work very challenging. She told us she’s even resorted to begging to raise her son, though she has found a way to make a little bit of money through weaving: Dani can make handmade scarves from scratch even though she lost her two fingers on her right hand as a kid due to a fire.
“I came to Addis Ababa from [REDACTED] when she was 15 seeking a better life,” she told us, “And I met Ebo’s father in Addis Ababa after he came from [REDACTED] for the same reason. We met while I worked as a maid in the house he was living in and we soon had Ebo. Ebo was my first child, but he was his father’s sixth. Ebo’s father and I separated when Ebo was only four. Ebo was… challenging as a child, so he was held back in the first grade, but he’s doing so well now.”
Dani is very supportive of her son’s education. The way she talks about him, it is evident how much she loves him. She sadly told us that she had a lot of people telling her to get rid of Ebo when he was younger and more difficult, but that never stopped her from trying to provide for her only son. She almost did lose him three years ago in a car accident, and she is so grateful he is with her and well.
At this point in our conversation with Dani, Ebo walked into the room. He politely greeted us with a smile, and we started talking. We asked him about his drawings first, of course – he told us that he drew all of them and we were so impressed. We took time going through the entire notebook and Ebo explained to us the meaning behind each drawing. My favorite was a drawing with the face of a man facing a woman with a heart in between them and flame from below, captioned “True love has lots of enemies”. He told us it was based on a story he wants to write one day. The notebook was filled with art, some bits of writing, and even song lyrics he’d written, so it was not surprising when Ebo told us he wants to be an artist when he grows up. Dani told us that, while she’s supportive, she would prefer if he focused on his studies because there isn’t money in art. She said she regrets not going to school herself and wants her son to be successful.
Ebo is heeding his mother’s wishes and focusing on academics – his report cards were clear indications. He scored 17th from 48 kids his first semester, and he’s found other classes to take outside of school. He even started going to church to take lessons recently and even participates in art and acting competitions he can find. He goes with kids in his neighborhood once a month to participate in poetry presentations, too.
When Ebo talks about his passion for the arts, this shy boy he becomes louder, more confident, and he has this fire in his eyes. He really loves it! We were so moved by this fifteen-year-old boy who wants nothing more than to follow his dreams and explore his talent, and his mother who has done so much to support him.
This story is from and written from the perspective of Selam Terefe, our program director in Ethiopia.The first thing we noticed when we walked into Ebo’s one room house are the drawings posted on the clay walls: Some were drawn with pencil, others with pen, but they...
Hello, I am Emanuel. I am 20 years old. When I was in my mother's womb, she did not want me to be born, so she hit her belly and took medication to cause a miscarriage, but I was born anyway. However, I was so badly damaged that when I was born I had to be...
My name is Selene. I was born and raised in the countryside by my mother and stepfather. I was sexually abused by my stepfather. I was sleeping in my bed and in the middle of the night I found my stepfather next to me in the bed. I was shouting when he tried to...
My name is Terry. I am 13 years old and an 8th grader at [REDACTED] School. When I grow up, I want to be an engineer and get a well-paying job. My mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer a couple of years ago. Before she got ill, she used to work as a washer, hand...
Note: Since this letter was written, Nora has graduated from high school and started studying at University. Everything started when my parents got together. They lived in Zone 18 [of Guatemala City] with my grandmother and my uncles, who lived lives full of luxury...
Greetings. I am Zoe. I am 10 years old and am a fourth grader in [REDACTED] Primary School. I live with 7 of my family members. Our house is always full of laughter and happiness. To an outsider, it would seem like we have everything in the world. I don’t think even...
Every two weeks, I send this email to reflect on challenges and victories in our mission together. Today I thought it would be helpful to simply send updates on how each nation is doing in our shared goal of defeating the Coronavirus.
Ethiopia, like most African countries right now, has both less reported cases but more concerns about what the pandemic can mean in their already stretched healthcare systems. The citizens of Ethiopia take great pride in the fact that an Ethiopian, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is leading the global effort to halt this disease as the leader of the World Health Organization. Additionally, informal networks of students and young professionals are banding together to raise and contribute money to ensure that trucks of water are being delivered to needed communities like Kore, the community in which we work, where water has been unavailable for long periods of time. These same youth groups are also voluntarily bringing buckets of water and soap to street corners around the city so that passersby can wash their hands as they walk. Returning from a trip to a United Nations meeting in New York City, Selam Terefe, our leader in Ethiopia, was able to bring a couple of hundred needed face masks to share with the local health clinic. She said that the cost of simple supplies, like fruit and cooking oils, is “increasing like crazy.”
Guatemala is taking the most proactive measures in Central America, according to this article in The Los Angeles Times. It closed its borders two days ago, which includes blocking flights of deported citizens being returned to Guatemala from the U.S. All schools are closed in Guatemala, as is the Ave Maria Center, which our scholars usually attend after school each day. Two weeks ago International Samaritan began a renovation of the student bathrooms at the Coll School to improve health and sanitation for our students, and our goal is to complete the project before students return. Angelica Cancinos, our scholarship director is working with our staff to distribute surgical masks and latex gloves to local doctors. These items, and other medical supplies were left over from our medical mission that ended last week and will be put to use. Angelica is most concerned about a lack of food, because many will not have an income to purchase food. She estimates that $100 will feed a family for a month.
Honduras is in a state of near lockdown for at least the next week, as the government has sent all workers home, suspended all air travel and public transportation, and closed all schools. Tegucigalpa is under martial law, according one of our team members, but not the rest of the country. Our team on the ground is most concerned about getting food to families, and our scholarship students in San Pedro Sula often volunteer to organize and distribute food supplies to the families in their community. They are working with local authorities now for safe and approved ways to continue to do this.
In Jamaica, the prime minister declared last week that the island is considered a disaster area because of the threat from the pandemic. As of today, the country is on lockdown for seven days, according to our leader, Sandrina Davis. She also said that students are being encouraged to continue learning through the use of websites, but this is all but impossible for our scholars because they do not have computers or internet access at home.
Nicaragua has taken a strikingly dissimilar approach to the challenge. President Daniel Ortega’s wife called for a public rally on Saturday in which hundreds of people came together to stand in support with victims of the Coronavirus. With no reported cases in Nicaragua to date, schools remain open and the government seems determined for life as usual to continue in this economically-challenged country despite warnings to the contrary.
The United States
Here in the United States, we have cancelled all trips through April 30, 2020. We will make a decision regarding May trips by April 1 and all June trips by April 10. Just before the travel restrictions began, three teams experienced powerful trips, including:
- Our first service immersion trip to Ethiopia, made by the resurgent IntSam Club at the University of Michigan.
- A medical mission in Guatemala driven by Ohio State University’s IntSam Club, which included a desperately needed OB-Gyn from our partnership with the St. Joseph Mercy Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- The Ross Business School at the University of Michigan completed their fourth trip with us, which included a case study of coffee production in Guatemala in addition to their work with our team in Escuintla.
We are looking for ways to help ensure that the people in our communities have the food and sanitation supplies they need to survive. As those solutions and opportunities to help become clear, we will share them with you. If you have thoughts or questions, please let me know by simply replying to this email. And please, please keep our families and communities in your prayers.
Every two weeks, I send this email to reflect on challenges and victories in our mission together. Today I thought it would be helpful to simply send updates on how each nation is doing in our shared goal of defeating the Coronavirus. Ethiopia Ethiopia, like most...
“We would get to the dump at 4:00 in the morning to get food to eat.” We hear this frequently when talking to families in the garbage dump communities. Invariably, they say this as a simple matter of fact, much like we might say, “I leave the house at 7:00 in the...
Our team gathered recently for a two-day retreat to update our strategic plan. One of the questions we were trying to answer is what we should do in Costa Rica and smaller communities in Guatemala where we have been sending student immersion teams but do not have...
The death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others last Sunday stunned me, as it did the world. As I read and watched the stories about his legacy over this past week, what struck me most is that he went to Mass at 7:00 on Sunday morning, shortly before boarding...
We have good news and great news. The good news: Over the last few months, we have asked for your support in every way that we could—emails, voicemails, and letters in the mail. The good news is that people showed up in a big way. Our base of supporters grew by 14%...
This past Tuesday night as I was doing the dishes, my daughter called. She’s a freshman living on campus at a nearby college, and she asked if I wanted to meet her for breakfast the next morning.“What’s wrong?” I asked, concerned, “Did you run out of...
International Samaritan is a nonprofit organization with the designation 501(c)(3). Our headquarters is located in Ann Arbor Michigan.