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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.

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 hospitalized for two years and I still have physical deformities. When I was young, my mother hit me a lot, and she didn’t take care of me. By the time I was three, I had to feed myself every day; by the time I was five, I was in charge of all the cooking and cleaning for the whole house.

When I was five, my mother finally left me. She changed her name and fled to the United States. Soon after my father left, too, to be with another woman that he was seeing. He left me on the doorstep of my mother’s old boss.  I hoped that things would be better with her, but she also treated me badly. I remember that once she broke my head with a stone and put corn on my head so the birds and chickens would attack me. By the time I was six I wanted to die, and I began to plan how I could kill myself.

My aunt first started coming to see me on the weekends when I was seven years old. Until then, she had lived far away. Even though she couldn’t afford to keep me, she wanted me a lot. She did not hurt me and she took care of my injuries. She begged my dad’s parents to adopt me, and one day she finally convinced them to rescue me from the hell I was living.  When she and my paternal grandparents arrived to bring me home, they found me all naked and dirty. That was the day that my life changed, when my grandparents legally adopted me. They were very nice to me: They took me to the doctor for my injuries, they bought me clothes and shoes, they cut my hair, and after two years of preparation they put me in school with other people my age.

We thought that I would have to stop attending school after sixth grade because it became too expensive, but when I was ready for high school, International Samaritan found me. They gave me the resources to continue schooling. Thank God for this program that has helped me, not only in study but also in moral and psychological ways. Little by little I have changed, because this program believes in the young people who benefit from it. Thanks to International Samaritan my dream to graduate has come true, and I now have the opportunity to go to university. My hope is to get a degree in auditing and form my own company. Finally, my future seems bright.

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president’s blog

Women Fighting For Life

By Mike Tenbusch | May 28, 2021

Just before the pandemic was declared last year in March, a team of students from University of Michigan’s campus chapter of International Samaritan served on our organization’s first service immersion trip to the garbage dump community of Kore in Ethiopia. Kore is where the trash of 7 million people living in the nation’s capital city is dumped every day.  Our team was blessed on the trip by the friendship of four recyclers, who walked with us through the outskirts of the dump. They told us stories about their work and showing us with pride the mounds of plastic they had collected and bundled to sell.

When one of the U of M students asked how safe it was for girls working in the dump, all four men abruptly stopped smiling.  It wasn’t safe at all, they said.  One told a story about how a gang leader had recently terrorized a group of women in the dump, making them all lie face-down on the ground while he jabbed a sharpened stick into their legs to make a point about something he cared about.  “It’s not safe here for women,” our guide concluded, as his friends looked down at the ground and shook their heads in agreement.

“Why didn’t those guys do something?” the students asked me on the van ride back to our home at the Jesuit residence in town.  I didn’t have a good answer.  I’ve confronted bullies a few times in my life, but I’ve been paralyzed by them at critical moments too—times I deeply regret to this day.  

Worldwide, girls and women are paying the price for leaders’ refusal to act.  Just this month, terrorists bombed a girls’ school in Afghanistan, killing 85, and the media’s attention span lasted one day.  Across the world, in just the last 50 years, more girls and women were killed because of their gender than all the men in all the wars of the last century.  In China alone, 39,000 baby girls die each year because they don’t receive the same medical care a son would receive, according to one study.   Doctors in both India and China are not allowed to reveal the gender of the child in the womb because of how many girls would be aborted as a result.  That’s to say nothing of the forced prostitution, sex-trafficking, and violent abuse suffered by millions of girls, particularly—but not exclusively–those in the dire poverty of developing nations.  (These statistics are from Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunities for Women Worldwide, a challenging and inspiring read.)

That is why my heart swelled with pride when I received an email recently from one of the U of M students on that trip who asked if she could work with our team in Ethiopia to research and implement ideas to make conditions safer for girls and women working in the dump.  She had just finished the hardest year of her life completing pre-med studies through the pandemic, and wanted to find a way to help.

After hearing about the idea, more than 40 girls in our scholarship program in Ethiopia came forward to help.  Their numbers are so strong because they are part of a Samaritan Girls Club, founded by one of our scholars last year, that meets every Wednesday to strengthen their bonds and collectively discuss the challenges they each face individually.  

The Samaritan Girls Club was inspired by the power of their mothers who came together to learn to read and write after their children first received scholarships from International Samaritan seven years ago.  Soon after that, their moms formed a co-op to raise 20 chickens and sell their eggs.  Since then, they have raised and sold hundreds of chickens, dozens of goats and sheep, and thousands of eggs.  They have built one community garden in the shadows of the dump and just began work on a second, producing fresh vegetables for their families in the midst of the pandemic.  

More importantly, the resilience of these mothers has produced daughters who are not just graduating and finding work, they are using their education and networks to change the world.  That gang leader and others like him better watch out.  May their reality be changed and justice reign quickly, I pray.

The Samaritan Girls Club in Ethiopia celebrating Christmas together.
Bottom Row (left to right): Yanchialem, Samrawit, Bizunesh, Bethlehem, Hana Mekonnen

Second row (left to right): Feven, Fikerte, Rediet, Kalkidan, Loza, Azeb
Third row (left to right): Hana Tadege
 and Tigist 

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By Mike Tenbusch | January 29, 2021 Way back in 1973, I remember eating at Buddy’s pizza in Detroit with my brother, my dad, and my dad’s best friend, Fr. Frank Canfield, S.J.  Because I was kind of a mischievous 4-year-old, I snuck a sip of my dad’s beer when he...

The Loss of a Precious Life

By Mike Tenbusch | January 15, 2021 We lost one of our scholars last week.  Asdrubal Barroso was only 13-years-old.  He was born in Cuba but moved with his parents to Nicaragua four years ago in search of better opportunities.  They settled in a small home in Villa...

Water Is Life

By Mike Tenbusch | December 31, 2020 Have you ever lain in bed at night trying to figure out how to pay a bill?  Only to fall asleep and keep waking up with that bill on your mind as the peace of sleep gets overtaken by the anger of insufficiency.   It’s a horrible,...

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