Home Country: Ethiopia
Occupation: Teaches woodworking at the Compassion student center where he grew up.
Life Goal: “To continue managing his woodworking business and teaching students.”
One of Sameson’s earliest memories is keeping watch over his aunt’s cattle as a 4-year-old. Under the dark Ethiopian sky, Sameson was scared. He missed his mother. He was hungry and tired. But most of all, Sameson felt alone.
A New Beginning
“I remember the day my mother brought me to Addis (Ababa),” recalls Sameson. “My mother took me to my aunt’s house where there were a lot of children to play with. I was happy. However, my excitement quickly diminished when my mother came to say goodbye. I was confused. I stood up to go back with her, but she told me that I would be staying with my aunt from then on. She cried so much when she said goodbye and left. For a long time, I always believed she would come back for me. But she never did.”
It was easy for Sameson to get lost in a home bursting with 11 children. As the littlest one, he always got what was left over — food, beds and attention. Along with his cousins, Sameson was assigned chores, and his primary duty was watching the family’s livestock.
“I was almost 5 years old, and I spent the whole day tending to the cattle and the sheep alone,” says Sameson. “The rainy season was the worst time, since I had no shelter. Because I didn’t know my way back home too well, many days I grabbed the tail of a cow and followed it home. I had no friends and no one to talk to while I spent my days in the field.”
Sameson begged his aunt to let him go to school. But there were too many children, too many mouths to feed. He occasionally went to evening classes, but they were aimed at older kids, and Sameson was lost and confused.
A neighbor told Sameson’s aunt about Compassion. She let the woman know about all of the free resources Sameson could get at the center — snacks, school fees, clothes. At first she was skeptical. Who would watch the livestock? And would they try to convert Sameson? What would the community think about her sending him to a church?
But finally, she relented. At the center, Sameson was quiet and reserved. And the fear that had plagued him throughout his childhood was still present.