Four year old Sameson couldn’t understand why his mother was trying to say goodbye. He thought he was on an exciting adventure to see his relatives but now he was both confused and distressed.
Sameson tugged at the bottom of his mother’s skirt crying out for her not to leave.
What this bright-eyed four year old couldn’t understand was that his mother couldn’t afford to feed him anymore. She’d made the long trek from Tigray to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to visit her sister in law and beg her to raise Sameson as her own.
That day was the last time Sameson saw his mother.
Sadly Sameson’s aunt saw him as an unwanted burden; for her large family, he was just an extra mouth to feed. As a small undernourished five year old he was sent to work tending cattle. Sameson explains, “Those times still torment me. I prefer not to remember them. I was almost five years old, and I spent the whole day tending to the cattle and the sheep alone. I didn’t know how to tend to them, and sometimes they would go astray to another field, and I used to cry a lot not knowing what to do to bring them back. Sometimes they would get stolen, and I would get punished for it. 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 cattle and followed them home. I had no friends and no one to talk to while I spent my days in the field.”
Sameson was neglected by his aunt and her family. He craved the love and support he used to receive from his mother.
Everything changed for this vulnerable little boy when his neighbour persuaded Sameson’s aunt to take him to the local church, Repi Kale Hiwot, and register him with the newly opened Compassion project.
“My life was never the same again,” says Sameson. “Joining Compassion was the highlight of my life. The course of my life changed. When my life seemed to be at a standstill, when all hope was lost and when I thought no one cared, God sent Compassion to brighten my future,”.
In the project, Sameson found children his own age who related to what he went through. He found people who were concerned for his wellbeing. He found people who treated him like the child he was. Soon after he joined the programme, Sameson stopped working in the fields during the day and began attending school.
It took time for Sameson to learn to trust the new opportunities that had been given to him. He explains, “the first year of my stay in the project was filled with fear. I was afraid that the chance would be taken away from me. I was afraid that it was not real. I was afraid that I would go back to herding the cattle alone in the field. I was afraid that someone would come and tell me that I didn’t deserve it all. It took me almost a year to believe that Compassion really came to give me a better life. The support I got other than the material provision is beyond what I can tell you now. Because I was hurt in many ways, the project counseled me and invested a lot in me to make me realize that I am capable of becoming whatever I want to be. They did this with a lot of commitment to every child in the project.”
Despite the love and care he received through the project and his sponsor, Sameson struggled to catch up with his peers at school. After missing the early years of his education he found academic subjects hard to grasp and eventually failed his final exam. The project staff and volunteers were immediately on hand to offer reassurance.
“When I heard that failing my exam was not the end of the road for me, I praised God and I was very thankful to Compassion. For so many children in my village, including my aunt’s children, failing 10th grade means the end of the road for them, since most of them couldn’t afford vocational school. But for me, God gave me a second chance through Compassion. I studied woodworking. The opportunity I got after finishing my course is something I am most grateful for,” says Sameson with tears in his eyes.
God has since used Sameson’s woodworking skills to bless others. After he graduated from his vocational course, the project opened up a wood workshop on the church grounds so that children could take skills training in the summer. They chose Sameson as the instructor to teach the children.
“It’s a great privilege. Other than the satisfaction I get through working, I am very happy to interact with the people who influenced and shaped my life on a daily basis. I am also very happy to be a role model to children at the project.”
Sameson also runs his own business taking orders and making furniture. His business is flourishing and he now has two employees.
From a shy young boy left to tend the cattle alone, Sameson is now a confident young man, passionate about serving God and his community through his craft.
Sameson reflects, “Compassion is a place where I grew up to be the young man God created me to be. Compassion for me is truly special. I’ll keep on reflecting on Compassion’s influence in my life for as long as I live.”
Imagine where your sponsored child could be in 10 years’ time thanks to your support. Why not send them a message today and encourage them to make big plans for the future.