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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...
By Mike Tenbusch | November 18, 2022
What would your life be like if you were never able to see your mother in person? If phone calls were the only way you could speak with her, and you had no recollection of her hugs or touch?
On my most recent trip to Honduras, I discovered that this is the reality for Francisco, one of our team members there, as well as tens of thousands of young people from Mexico and Central America like him.
The only picture that Francisco has with his mother.
Hoping to give him a better life, Francisco’s mom left him with his grandparents when he was 11 months old. She made the long, harrowing trip to cross the border in 1998, but her plans to make enough money for them to be reunited never worked out. Francisco’s grandparents raised him as their own son, providing for him as best they could, even selling land that they owned for the $5,000 needed to pay for a coyote to safely guide him across the border. Even though Francisco held no memories of ever being with his mom, he could never shake the desire to see her again, just to be in her presence, when all would be made right in the world again.
Kevin at age two.
So at the age of 20, he took a bus to Guatemala, and then another to Mexico, before meeting his coyote and walking for 20 hours to a town near the border where he was put in a house and told to wait with about 30 other people. He waited. And then waited some more. Thirty days went by with very little food and no news or access to the outside.
When they finally began the long walk across dangerous terrain one night, they were overtaken by bandits with machetes who beat them and took their clothes and the meager cash they had on hand. They returned to the home and were given new clothes and another chance a few days later.
On a cold, September night in 2018, Francisco made it to edge of the Rio Grande. He could see the United States on the other side of the river! Anxiously, he waited in a safe house working up his courage for the dangerous swim ahead while dreaming of what it would be like to see his mother in person.
As soon as it was dark, Francisco waded into the Rio Grande, and his dreams crashed before he could swim. Bright lights and loud shouts from La Migra officials waving guns told him he was caught. He had nowhere to go now but to jail.
Francisco spent 15 days in jail in Mexico. The conditions were so bad that he made a deal with God, “If you get me out of here, I’ll never do this again.” He was freed soon after and deported to Guatemala, where he spent another 15 days in jail, before being put back on a bus and returned to Tegucigalpa.
A few weeks later he got a message from his coyote: he still had two more chances to try to cross the border for the $5,000 fee that his grandparents had paid. Francisco turned him down. He had made a deal with God and he was going to live with it.
It’s four years later now. Francisco’s grandfather has since passed away, just weeks after attending Francisco’s wedding. His grandma lives with him and his wife, and Francisco has become an integral part of IntSam’s mission, giving life to the dreams of our scholars as we work so hard to bring fresh water to their community.
Francisco with his wife, grandfather, and grandmother at his wedding.
When Francisco finished telling me his story over baleadas two weeks ago, I only had one thought at the end and blurted it out in English to Ronia, our team leader in Tegucigalpa, who was translating for me.
“We need you to come to our annual retreat in January!” I said. “Our board would love to hear how the water project is going, and I’ll write a letter to the embassy in support of your visa application.”
Ronia began weeping as she tried to translate this for Francisco. We had done the same for her two years ago, and it enabled her to see her sister in the U.S. for the first time in 20 years. When she finished translating, tears filled Francisco’s eyes, as they do mine now, writing this.
By God’s grace and with the approval of the U.S. Embassy, Francisco will be at our annual retreat in January—and he will get to see his mom while he is here. Please keep him and this request in your prayers. And know that through your giving, you are helping to create conditions so that young people in this same community will never have to make a decision like hers again.
Francisco and I playing soccer in Tegucigalpa two weeks ago.
Why do Migrants Flee to America?
Learn about the pressures and dangers faced by Central American migrants trying to escape to the US in our upcoming book club on Thursday, November 30 at noon EST. We’ll be discussing American Dirt and hearing from one of our scholars who faced a similar situation.
Interested? Email Mike to RSVP!
By Mike Tenbusch | November 18, 2022 What would your life be like if you were never able to see your mother in person? If phone calls were the only way you could speak with her, and you had no recollection of her hugs or touch? On my most recent trip to Honduras, I...
By Mike Tenbusch | November 04, 2022 Yesterday, I ran my third IntSam Global 5K in as many weeks. This time it was with our scholars in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, along with a powerful team of new friends from Grace Community Church in Detroit. While recovering after...
By Mike Tenbusch | October 21, 2022 When we lined up to run the Great IntSam 5K in San Pedro Sula last week, I knew I could take at least half of the 40 or so kids lined up around me. Sure, it felt like 110 degrees, but they had to run in the same heat too. I had...
By Mike Tenbusch | October 07, 2022 When she was a young girl, Yessenia was forced by the conditions surrounding her to work in the garbage dump in El Ocotillo, outside San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to pull out as much plastic and cardboard as she could from the teeming...
By Mike Tenbusch | September 23, 2022 What a joy it was to be a part of Ronia Romero’s barnstorming tour across the United States this past week! Ronia leads our mission in Tegucigalpa and has personally led the charge for bringing water to her community there. Over...
By Mike Tenbusch | September 9, 2022 Roberto Contreras grew up in a small neighborhood near San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The El Ocotillo dump reached the edge of their town and after school some of the kids would go there to pick through the mountains of garbage and see...
International Samaritan is a nonprofit organization with the designation 501(c)(3). Our headquarters is located in Ann Arbor Michigan.