READ OUR NEWEST NEWSLETTER
Click the gray arrows on the left and right sides of the page to flip through the pages, or click on the image to make it full screen.
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...
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 meals on your meal card?”
“No, Dad,” she laughed, “I miss you and just want to spend some time with you.”
Sometimes we miss things as parents, and as people, because of the paradigms we have in our head.
Our team here in Ann Arbor did a refresher course this week on Stephen Covey’s classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, this week, and it reminded me how helpful it is to be able to change our paradigms (or mental models) on the way we think about things.
For example, ever since the Detroit Lions drafted Billy Sims with the first overall pick in the 1980 draft, I have believed that this is going to be the year that they make it to the Super Bowl. We only have one playoff victory in my lifetime, yet I’ve never wavered from the Honolulu Blue and Silver, despite the countless heartbreaks. No more. This year, I have officially adopted the Baltimore Ravens and the New Orleans Saints, two teams that seem destined to make it to the Super Bowl, and I am having the time of my life. Who says you can’t root for the Lions and another team—as long as they are not the Packers.
A lot of paradigms get thrust upon us. Who knows where I got the belief that I had to only cheer for the Lions? I know that when my wife and I became parents, a lot of our friends said, “They’re cute now, but wait until the terrible twos.” As our children made their way through grade school, others would say, “They’re good now, but wait until they’re teenagers.” Our kids are 17, 18 and 20 today, and I can honestly say that they were wonderful at two and even better as teenagers. One thing my wife and I got right as parents is that we refused to believe the paradigms that others wanted us to accept when it came to how or who our children would be.
In the communities in which International Samaritan works, the kids who help their parents in the dumpsites are faced with a horrible paradigm. The garbage trucks rumbling through the dumps will run them over if they are in the way. This brutal fact makes it clear to them that their lives are worth less than the garbage they sift through. But then they are faced with a whole different paradigm when they are told that a stranger wants to invest in their education and that they can go to school to pursue their dreams.
Is there a paradigm in your life that needs changing? Perhaps Christmas with the in-laws doesn’t have to be a disaster every year. Or maybe your boss does appreciate you. What if America isn’t coming apart at the seams? Sometimes, we can find a perverse pleasure in really negative paradigms because it feels good when we find evidence when we are right. If you think that your kids are ungrateful, there will always be some evidence of that. But I guarantee you will find evidence that they are grateful if you change your paradigm about that, too.
As 2019 draws to a close, please consider changing the paradigm for one of 350 young people who will receive a scholarship from us for the first time next year. My wife and I became sponsors in October, and it feels great to know that we are making a difference in the life of someone we don’t even know.
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...
In a letter we sent out to our supporters this week, I wrote about the “awe” that our scholarship students show in approaching their studies as a way out of a life of working in the garbage dump that lies waiting outside their door. I have found that that same sense...
When I interviewed for this position last year, I was intrigued by the fifth bullet point in the job description: Articulate the spiritual values and policies to execute the mission of International Samaritan and develop an internal culture that supports those values....
A year ago this morning, I walked in for my first day on the job at International Samaritan. When I mention this fact to friends, old-school Catholics are quick to tell me, “Ahh, All Saints Day, that’s a good day to start your new job.” For those of you who are not...
This past Friday morning, I was with Dan Weingartz, one of our board members at International Samaritan, on a tour of a medical clinic we helped to renovate in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city. Just as we were finishing our tour, Selam Terefe, our inspirational...
"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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
International Samaritan is a nonprofit organization with the designation 501(c)(3). Our headquarters is located in Ann Arbor Michigan.