By Selam Terefe | May 13, 2022

This is Meron. Eight years back, she suddenly lost both of her parents to illness in less than two weeks. 

“I buried my spark, enthusiasm, and joy alongside my parents,” she said.

Meron handled her grief by focusing all of her attention on her studies. She tried hard to hide behind her school achievements. She became successful: through International Samaritan’s Step-by-Step scholarship program, she joined one of the most prestigious Catholic schools in the country, Don Bosco, and became one of the top students. However, her older sister, Mekdes, could see right through her sister’s facade. As Meron’s sadness and isolation grew, Mekdes grew to worry about her. She constantly insisted Meron interact with her peers, but Meron would not budge. Meron’s only companion became her school assignments. 

When Meron joined International Samaritan’s girls’ defense class at the end of last year, she thought she would just learn a few self-defense techniques and that would be it. But, as the days of practice went by, she started to learn to let go of all the grief she was holding so dear. She began to enjoy herself and, most importantly, laugh. She made friends with her teammates and started to let down her guard. Not only did Meron start to socialize, but her confidence grew as she learned over 30 self-defense maneuvers which she says taught her how to defend herself without harming others. This is a new Meron, more alive and energetic. 

“After all these years, I did not think that simply joining a self-defense class would give me back my sister, but it did. I have seen other girls’ confidence boom as well,” said Mekdes. 

An empowered girl will go on empowering the world. Watch out for Meron and the other 29 girls in the self-defense classes that generous people like you have made possible! The change made in their lives has inspired us to bring the girls’ self defense program to other scholars around the world, starting with Honduras. Indeed, lives are truly being transformed!

Have you had a class or activity change your life? We would love to hear your story.

Selam Terefe

Program Director (Ethiopia)

Selam has a Masters Degree in Sociology from King’s College and has also studied law, management, and women’s rights. Her research led her to work on women’s issues in East Africa with the United Nations. Her passion is reading, so she developed a book club for scholars to discuss books written by Ethiopian authors.