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Alone no more: Samrawit's story in Ethiopia

Samrawit fidgets like the teenager she is when she meets strangers. It’s easy to assume nerves are getting the best of her, but that’s not the case at all. Nervous people retreat from the source of their discomfort, and Samrawit isn’t backing down. She’s holding back.

Inside, she’s thrilled to have visitors, make new friends or engage in new experiences. She starts to speak quietly, but soon her cadence picks up. Her cover is blown. A smile explodes across her face and her brown eyes dance with excitement.

Samrawit Fesha, 19, doesn’t have many visitors here. Her dad died when she was 17. Her mom died when she was 11. Since then, she’s lived alone in the one-room home she used to occupy with her mother. Black and white photos of her parents hang in the corner of the room.

“Every time I breathe, I miss my parents, especially my mom. When I look at the door, the window, everything, I think of my mother,” she says, her smile fading.

“It’s very hard to live on your own. In order to survive, you have to do everything. I miss my parents a lot, especially after school. That’s when I expect prepared food. But I come home each day and the door is shut. No one is here.”

Through its foster care and Family Hope Center in Addis Ababa, Buckner Ethiopia has stepped in the gap. The ministry has helped a neighbor take care of Samrawit. Her home care provider Alemtsehay Kido has become critical support, regularly visiting Samrawit and encouraging her.

“My home care provider takes care of me,” Samrawit says, her smile returning. “That’s why I survive. She and Buckner are doing a tremendous work in my life. I consider Alemtsehay my mother and Buckner my father.”

Samrawit works hard in school, earning As and high Bs. Her favorite subject is Ethiopian history, and she loves to be inspired by her country’s patriarchs. She reads books and watches television, including many of the same shows American teenagers obsess over.

Each Sunday, Samrawit and her friends go to church. She giggles as she talks about spending time with them. They’re silly together. They laugh together. They do life together.

“I go to church to praise God,” she says. “He is the one who prepared all this. I go to praise him and thank him.”

One day, Samrawit hopes to be a fashion designer. But first she has to figure out a way to take college preparatory classes, which she can’t afford at this point. She knows this is merely a challenge, and challenges can be overcome with the help of people who care about her.

Her smile returns in full at the thought of those who love her, and her mind drifts to her mother.

“She used to be my mom, my sister, everything. She would be happy to see me now. She would be proud to see what I have accomplished.”

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