Everyone has a story – Habtamu

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During our last term in Ethiopia we only had our youngest adopted son living with us. But that meant we had a house full of boys. Three ate with us three or four times a week and there were others from time to time. The memories of those three are precious to us and I might get to write about the other two sometime. I’ll call this one Habtamu, a name which means ‘the rich one’, although he was and is truly poor. As time passed we got to know the history of all of them.

Habtamu was scholastically the brightest of them all. In grade 8 where the pass mark was 37% in the government exam he got 80 something. He was the only one of the three who had a vision of a tertiary education. He was orphaned at age 5. His parents had bought a place in Arba Mintch, and having sold their village place were killed on the way to their new home in a bus crash. Their three children survived. The home which they had bought had 3 rooms. Their eldest child was a girl who was given the responsibility of bringing up her two younger brothers – Habtamu being the youngest. The sister is now married and has a child. Habtamu lives in a little room on the side of the house. He often asked our son to help him in the evenings or weekends when they, like the Israelites in Egypt years before, trod mud and grass together to patch the walls. We paid for all four boys to go to a private school (a cheap one – but they got a full days teaching, whereas in the public schools you only got half day teaching). When we left our son came back to Australia with us. Two of the boys started work but Habtamu wanted  to continue his education. Without being lavish we have continued to support him, with the help of a couple of generous people.

He still lives in that same small room on the side of his married sister’s home. But he may well be seen as richer than most because we have bought him a computer and a few other things. Have these things been a blessing? It needs  a yes-no answer.

Yes, it has allowed him to continue with his now tertiary education. His score was enough to get him a place in a University but not at the one in his area. He would have to have gone hundreds of kilometres away to do a course which he hadn’t chosen. He still tries to help care for his older brother who studies at a Government University far away. So he elected to go to night school for some extra points and is taking an accountancy course at a private institution. These are courses which have to be paid for.

The answer is ‘no’ because there have been many attempts to break into his room. (The home is not in a good place). A few months ago he was beaten up and ended in the local hospital. His injury was in the upper third of his face and particularly around his right eye with a lot of swelling and some lacerations. 

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Then at the end of last week we got a picture sent after he had again been beaten by an invader.

(If you look at his teeth – aren’t they nice and white! – there is an obvious step down in the teeth on the right side of the teeth in his lower jaw. [ie on the left as you look at the picture.] Behind the break the first tooth (a canine) is forward and those behind that are tilted inwards and at a slightly lower level.)

The local hospital had said that they couldn’t help him. (I wonder why because we certainly could have when I was there.) They referred him to a local private dentist in the town, but he messaged for our advice and I suspect more money.  His fracture wasn’t going to be handled without an X-ray and almost certainly a general anaesthetic and there is no private anaesthetist in that town. I could see that  he was going to need some type of surgery. I have been to the dentist’s place. He is a nice guy but doesn’t have what is needed to treat this. So we have arranged for him to go to a private hospital about 100 km away, in a town and hospital where we have some connections. He was operated on this last weekend. I am anxiously waiting to hear from him.

I guess Habtamu is becoming rich in experiences. And that is important in life! – Even if we would like to have avoided some of them!

5 thoughts on “Everyone has a story – Habtamu

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