It’s been my great privilege to be acquainted with the Parker family over the years. Wayne and Lisa, Melissa, Elle, Davis and Riley are close enough to be family. Our families have know each other for at least three generations, Wayne’s great aunt worked in my grandfather’s department store in the thirties. Our daughters, Elle and Sarah, have danced together since they were four.
A few years ago Wayne told me that he had a friend with a program to bring the best students from Ethiopia to the United States for their Junior Year in High School. The purpose was to give the kids a boost, to propel them to college in Ethiopia with some momentum. Thousands of boys competed for a slot and no more than a few dozen were eventually placed. One of the boys, Fasil, moved to Huntsville and moved in with the Parkers to start his junior year at Huntsville High. Today, three years later, Fasil has been at UAHuntsville for four semesters and, you’re not going to believe this, it looks like he’ll graduate in five.
Fasil was not supposed to spend his Senior Year in the US, the program called for him to return. But Fasil did so well, no one wanted to interrupt his progress so he returned to complete his high school. He was admitted to UAHuntsville in the engineering school and is doing amazingly well. He has even challenged a few courses by taking the exam in lieu of actually sitting in the class! Right now, he’s got an almost perfect grade point average and is about to graduate way early.
So why am I writing about Fasil? Because some wonderful people have sponsored the cost of his education and it’s an example of the good that can be done if you’ll just allow yourself to be led. Wayne asked me if I’d help and I said yes without thinking about it. It Wayne was in I was in, that was easy. Then I met Fasil and what an amazing guy. He’s already a huge success story. If you’d like to help with an aspiring college student’s support, just comment on this blog post or email privately.
Finally, a word from Fasil himself. Wayne and I asked him to write a letter, to tell us in his own words what he was thinking. Here it is:
Living in a lower income family in Ethiopia, I was able to have a firsthand experience of a hopeless medical system. Long lines of patients, waiting lists, very old and barely working medical equipment, always-full-with-patients hospitals, doctors who usually mis-prescribe medicines, pharmacies that don’t carry the right medicines are some of the problems that are prevalent in Ethiopia. According to the World Health Organization’s ranking of the world’s health systems, Ethiopia stood 180th out of 190 countries. Sure it looks difficult to solve all these problems and sure it looks even more difficult to solve them single handedly. But, dissecting the problems reveals some interesting facts. Most of the problems that are mentioned above are related in some way. It seems like all these problems branch out of one root. I believe permanently solving this root cause will diminish the related problems significantly. One might wonder what this mysterious cause of the problems is, but it is quite straightforward to notice. Ethiopia has a bad education system. Relatively few children go to school, and only a fraction of these students make it to the limited higher education institutions. The very few that make it through college end up leaving the country for a better living and never return. With no competent educated professionals left, the instructors in the colleges and universities are not so great. This means a slim chance that formidable doctors will be produced. Without qualified doctors, it is unlikely patients will be treated well the first time. Returning patients make the hospitals even more crowded. The need to treat overwhelming numbers of patients each day makes the doctors spend less time with each patient which means lower quality treatment. This cycle continues indefinitely. I believe this cycle of misery can be broken, and I can help with that. Consider this, if we can have some quality instructors in Ethiopian medical schools, well educated doctors will be produced in higher quantities. This means patients will be treated effectively the first time and no more crowded hospitals. With fewer patients -more working force- the economy of the country will grow even faster and the history of the country will be changed for good. This is my hope and I believe this is the only way there can be a decent medical system in the country. A country can’t depend on missionaries and traveling doctors. We need to have a permanent source of qualified doctors and the only way to do that is to have good educators.
I am convinced that I am best suited for the above purpose for several reasons. First, I have seen how difficult it is to be sick in Ethiopia. My father died when I was five years old and because of the failure in the medical system, my family and I have no idea what my father died of. Further, my brother had a severe heart problem when he was little, and I, with the rest of the family, have seen how long the waitlist is in the emergency room, how rarely doctors treat patients correctly – my brother was first give a typhus medicine mistakenly- and all the related problems. Second, I have been given the opportunity to come to the US and study. If I could get enough support and finish college and hopefully go to a medical school, that means I will have gotten the quality education that I always wished Ethiopian doctors had. With such an education, I believe I can be one of the quality educators I mentioned as a solution for Ethiopia’s medical system. I have now spent three years in US school systems (11th grade at Huntsville High School and two years at the University of Alabama in Huntsville). I have a 3.95 GPA in Electrical Engineering and plan to graduate after two more semesters. I study with the objective of learning as much as I can so that I can give back to my fellow brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. I have done everything I could to succeed in school, and I am determined to pass through any difficulty that might stand in my way. I am thankful for the opportunities that I have had so far and I welcome any help to reach my goal.