Michael (recent P61 intern) and Fantahun
Fantahun grew up in Korah. His parents met in Korah and they both made a living by begging on the streets. When Fantahun was born his mother would carry him on her back with her as she begged because children bring in more money. But then his sister was born, and his mother was earning enough money to send him to public school. His sister stayed with his mother though and helped bring in money.
His father left him just after he was born. His mother lost a leg in the war, and she later married a man who is also disabled. He is not around much, but
Fantahun speaks fondly of him. His younger sister got sick when she was young but they had no money to see a doctor. She was sick in bed for 3 years and then one day she just died. They never knew what was wrong with her.
Sometimes the children make me crazy with all their requests for medical treatment, and I get frustrated when they are panicking about a cold or a slight fever. But then I have to remind myself, they know so many people who just get sick and then die. And I remember also, that going to the doctor has never been an option before so they have to be taught when it is necessary and when it is not.
His mother took the death of his sister very hard. She was angry and in mourning for a long time, and would not leave the house. That was four or five
years ago now, and when I went to visit her one day she still talked often about her daughter. Fantahun dropped out of school in the middle of 9th grade,
and went to work at the trash dump to support his mother. He spent all of his days and many nights there, but gave his money to his mother. That was his life for four years.
She did receive help from another local charity as well, and they along with her neighbors helped to build her a three room mud house. He bought her a bed,
and chairs for their house. He was so proud to show me those.
He did not want to go to school initially. He had given up on hoping. Many people had come before and taken pictures and even taken profiles, but they did
nothing. They never really cared they just left behind their empty promises. But now he loves school, and his mother is so proud of him. She struggles with
him away, but his new life has restored her hope for the future as well.
He is a good son, and she knows he will take care of her. He says he never wants to trouble her, and does not want her to worry. And yet he knows that there is so little he can do to help her right now, besides being the best student he can be. After four years out of school, he started over again in 9th grade and was 7th in his class of over 60. So much potential that was wasting away.
They both made the hard decision that so many people living in poverty struggle to make…to hope for tomorrow, to hope for 5 years from now. Sometimes I talk to him at night while he is at school, and when I ask him what he is doing he almost is always reading his Bible. And I smile because I know that ultimately it
is only God that gives lasting hope for the future, and I am so proud of him for realizing that as well!
Fantahun is one of those extremely quiet and shy children, until you get them alone in a room or in a group of people that he feels comfortable with and then he is so funny and full of life. He is so handsome, and has a smile that will turn your whole day around! I thank God so much for the opportunity to get to know these kids, to have long term relationship with them. Ashli and I have looked at each other before and laughed and said they are truly the coolest kids in the world!
Thank you, John and Kristan, for your support of this sweet boy. He showed me your pictures the other day and told me the things he knew about you from your
letters, he reads and understands English well so keep the letters coming! You have made an impact on his here and now and also his future…keep praying for
him that he will seek eternal hope above all else. He and I hope we get to meet you sometime!