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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.

Anonymous, Marian High School

GUATEMALA, February 2019

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.

Dr. Harry Carr, M.D.

GUATEMALA, Summer 2017

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.

Anonymous, Saint Michael's Catholic Academy

GUATEMALA, January 2019

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International Samaritan in the News

Learn more about International Samaritan’s press coverage, campaigns, and community involvement.

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.

The Story of Ebo and Dani

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.

The Story of Ebo and Dani

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...

A Letter from Emanuel

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...

A Letter from Selene

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...

A Letter from Terry

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...

A Letter from Nora

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...

A Letter from Zoe

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...

president’s blog

A Reflection on Life and Love

Lift your head, Isabelita.”

“You can do it!”

“Come on, Titi!  We need you to lift your head…”

I stood in awe, watching my wife, her sister and their aunt encouraging the matriarch of their family to lift her head off the pillow of her bed in an intensive care unit to prove that she had enough strength for doctors to take out the tube from her throat that was helping her to breathe, but was otherwise making the rest of her life miserable over the last 48 hours.

Isabelita Ortiz was no stranger to overcoming adversity.  One of 11 children born in Puerto Rico during World War II, she moved to Michigan in the 1960’s and earned a bachelors from Oakland University, teaching in Pontiac schools for over 30 years.  When death and divorce brought havoc to her siblings’ families, she brought their children into her home, helping to raise 13 children and loving them as her own, including my wife and her sister.  After dedicating her life to the Lord from an early age, Isabelita never married and went on to become a pastor, serving faithfully in a church dominated by men who were not always fond of the fiery passion she couldn’t help but share.

Yet this surgery to repair a broken valve in her heart had taken a heavy toll.  As her family coached her on from the side of her bed, I could almost hear a voice inside of her respond back, “Stay down!  Just rest and ignore them!”

My wife, Maritza, at our daughter’s graduation party with her aunt, Isabelita Ortiz (February 24, 1942 – September 22, 2019)

Tears filled my eyes as my aunt struggled to raised her head off the bed.  In that moment, I felt and saw the love of God in the voice of her sister and nieces.  It was not just their love for their aunt that moved me, but His love for her too. Not only is He constantly calling us upward, He puts people in our life who encourage us when we need it most.  Sometimes the weight of the world can fog our vision, dull our senses, and take away our strength to get up.  But He is still there, waiting for us, calling us. His love can be seen through people who show up in unexpected ways, sometimes small and other times huge.  That has been my life, especially these last few weeks as we ultimately brought our aunt home where she made her transition into everlasting life.

I share this experience with you to encourage you in God’s love and to ask you to take a moment to think about how you can share His love with someone you know in need of that encouraging friend today.

A Reflection on Life and Love

"Lift your head, Isabelita.” “You can do it!” “Come on, Titi!  We need you to lift your head…” I stood in awe, watching my wife, her sister and their aunt encouraging the matriarch of their family to lift her head off the pillow of her bed in an intensive care unit to...

What’s the Worst Job You’ve Ever Had?

I’ve written before about the best job I ever had, but the worst job is a whole different story.   The worst job I’ve ever had has been the work of finding a job.  Twice in my life, I’ve lost a job. Both times came as a complete surprise, not only to me but also to my...

I am the Champion

If you haven’t done so already, take two minutes to check out the performance of the Detroit Youth Choir on America’s Got Talent last week.  Just click on the picture below for almost instant joy:I don’t know any of the young people in this choir, but I’ve spent most...

The Sound of Silence in Nicaragua

I recently returned from a week visiting with our scholars and partners in Nicaragua and what stunned me more than anything else about Nicaragua was the silence.  Since the death of more than 300 protestors in the streets last year, it feels like half the nation has...

Where are the Bright Spots in your Life?

My heart aches for the times we live in.  The atrocities committed in Dayton and El Paso this past weekend don’t seem like isolated events.  They seem like the inevitable result of living in a world consumed with glorifying oneself on social media, with demonizing...

What Coco Gauff and our Scholars Have in Common

Last week, a 15-year-old girl named Coco became the youngest person ever to win three matches at Wimbledon, including an awe-inspiring comeback after being down 6-3 and 5-2 in the second match.  The thrill of that victory, and the beautiful bond so evident between her...

Straight Out, Flat Out, and Honest.

One of my strengths is that I never see a glass as half full;  I see it as mostly full almost all the time.  My natural optimism helps me in my work, but I've learned that it can also hurt me.  Sometimes the glass can actually be half empty—or even completely empty...

What’s Most Important in Your Community?

On Mother’s Day in Guatemala, 70 women from a village bordering a dumpsite on the outskirts of Guatemala City gathered to work with our team on the answer to that question. Figuring out a list of needs was the easy part. They need: A school A recreation center Access...

Where do you see God in Life?

What I love about our work at International Samaritan is how often I see and feel the presence of God in what we do. Recently, I had the unique privilege of sitting in on the conversations that our scholarship students in Guatemala were having with a woman who has...

Come Find Out if Trump was Right

In retaliation for what he perceives to be a lack of support from the leaders of Central American nations, President Trump announced last week that he intends to cut $500 million from programs addressing the root causes of migration from those nations.  This makes me...

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