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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



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

Why We Run

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.

Why We Run

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...

A Race for Karen and You

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...

A Fight for Water and Life

By Mike Tenbusch | July 24, 2020 Ethiopia has been in a battle of biblical proportions over the last few weeks.  I’m writing you about it to ask that you keep our team, scholarship students and families close in your prayers.Hachalu Hundessa, a much loved singer and...

Run Your Race

By Mike Tenbusch | July 09, 2020 On a frigid, November morning in 1984, butterflies swarmed through my stomach as I lined up with 80 other boys in nylon shorts and tank tops waiting for the gun to sound and the Cross Country State Championship race to begin.  I was...

The Surprising Impact of Sheltering in Small and Confined Spaces

By Mike Tenbusch | June 19, 2020 One of my favorite scriptures is when Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal, slaughter, and destroy. I’ve come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” I can’t help but think of this image when I hear stories about how...

In Memory of George Floyd

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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