Stories of Hope

The following is a translation of the speech given by Ethiopian Desalegn Takele at the M.O.R.E. fundraiser held on September 27, 2008:
des_1Ladies and Gentlemen:

Dear Program coordinators:

I would like to express to you my heartfelt thanks for giving me this opportunity to stand before you and tell you my story.

I again would also like to express my heartfelt thanks to you in the name of people who help you in your efforts of helping the children and also other less fortunate people, without any reservation to your time and money.

Ladies and Gentlemen organizers of the program and invited guests:

Now, I would like to tell you a little about my life: where I started and where I have arrived presently.

I was born 32 years ago in 1976 in a small village located 720 kilometers south of Addis Ababa.  I am the fourth child in my family. I come from a peasant family.  We had many heads of cattle and very many sheep and used to work very hard to tend to them.

However, a few years later a drought struck our area.  All of our sheep and the cattle perished because of the drought and we ended up having no food in the house.   When food started not being available in the house, my father started traveling on foot to places as far as 250 kilometers away, bought and sold some stuff, and brought us some grain he purchased with his meager profit.

In addition to the drought, there was the war that was being waged between the government forces and the opposition.  The war made it very difficult and prevented people from receiving food aid and as a result very many people died of starvation.

Our father somehow went out of the area in search of grain.  However, we were later told
des_2that he did pass away on the road side some time after he went.  At that time, we fell on extremely hard times; we were not able to eat even once a day. Just having something to eat and eating was seen as extra ordinary and we were getting weaker and weaker because of the starvation.

The only alternative open to us at that moment was to just walk in any direction to find some food.  People travel to the central area of the country, to Addis Ababa and to other places where they can receive help.  Our mother entrusted her boys, me and my younger brother,  to some people who were on the go and sent us away with them, never to she her again.

People on the go follow the terrain and just keep on walking endlessly.  When they find some tree shade, they sit to take some rest, they beg others who pass by for water, and then they die and get buried right where they died.

One day my younger brother told me that he was feeling sick.  We sat down together to take some rest.  His condition deteriorated, he could not recover at all, and he died a few days later.  I cried, and the people I was traveling with buried him on the road side.  However, we kept on going, we continued our journey and after many days of travel I came to know that I have finally arrived at Addis Ababa.

Here, when one begs for help, people give out food, but boarding became a problem.  I made an agreement with one man who provided me with food and shelter and in return I had to herd his sheep.  I stayed under his employment for about 7 months.

While I was working there, every morning I used to see the children going to school regularly.  I used to feel angry for not being educated and as a result I hated myself.  At the same time, I also used to see Sister Sinknesh every time while she was going to church in the morning.  One day I approached and told her that I have a desire to go to school.  Sister Sinknesh took a moment to think about it and she then said that she will provide me with a little bit money every month to help me go to school but that I will have to find some place where I will be staying.
des_3It was a very good thing that she agreed to help me, but where will I find a place to stay?  I kept on thinking seriously about the possibilities.  Finally, I went and explained my situation to an old man I had come to know.  He agreed to let me stay with him but he said that he will not be able to provide me with food.  I then got the old man and Sister Sinknesh together and they talked about it.

Thus, with a new moral spirit I started going to school when I was 12 years of age.  Sister Sinknesh was very happy with my school results.  I later went into a vocational school and even got a job.  In the mean time, in order to improve myself, I continued to attend evening classes all the time during the period I worked during the day.

Eventually, I was so lucky to become a winner from among many millions of people to get the opportunity to come, reside and work here in America, and be present among you.

Ladies and Gentlemen and organizers of the program, I would like to congratulate you on the successful outcome your ideas and your financial contributions have brought about.

I would also like to thank Sister Sinknesh for pulling me out of the dire situation I was in and enable me to be at my current position.

Thank you,

Desalegn Takele

~ Giving hope…..to M.O.R.E. children ~

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