For those that are in the Ethiopian adoption world, this is old news to you. For those that aren’t, it might be something you haven’t heard yet.
Haregewoin Teferra was an Ethiopian woman. Not just any Ethiopian woman; she was an Ethiopian woman who, when every single person in her country was fleeing from the AIDS epidemic and anyone remotely associated with it, jumped right in. She’s the “star” of the book, There is No Me Without You. This book is one most of you have probably read. If you know someone who has adopted, they have probably told you to read it. Particularly for Ethiopian adoption, it seems we all have at least one common denominator in our choice to adopt from Ethiopia and that is this book.
I’ve waited to blog about Ms. Teferra dying until now because the truth is I’ve been pretty sad about it. In quite a few respects she is everything I want to be. She’s not famous (at least, not to many people outside the adoption world and even I’m famous to some people…or at least my mom’s been telling me so for many years). I want to be like her because she chose to stay and fight when everyone else was choosing to flee. She gave up EVERYTHING (wealth, prestige, houses, cars, clothes) to save her fellow countrymen (mostly children but it could be argued she was a lifeline to adult friends of hers living with AIDS as well).
That’s what I want to do, I suppose. Stand and fight, for as many things as I can. Of all the things I want said about me upon my death (there will be lots! I’ve already started writing my eulogy, now to who shall I entrust these great words?) I hope it will be that. Simply she was a lot to a few. Instead of moving so injustice could continue on, she became even a small barrier to be broken through. Those things could definitely be said of Ms. Teferra and I know no matter what I do, it’s literally nothing compared to what she has done.
I have no doubts Ms. Teferra can be accredited with making international adoption more of a possibility from Ethiopia and thus I thank her memory for my Tariku.
Now what to do. I’m going to copy this directly from Melissa Faye Greene’s blog (she’s the one that wrote that book).
By now you may have learned the shocking news that Mrs. Haregewoin Teferra has died suddenly after a short illness. We don’t know what caused her death; she felt sick for a couple of days, went to the doctor, came home without a diagnosis, felt sick again, and that was the end.
We are grieving, yet we have no time to spare: 59 children survive her, many of them toddlers and babies, the majority HIV-positive.
World Wide Orphans–the New York-based organization that has overseen the medical care for Haregewoin’s children for many years–has stepped into the breach. They have assumed full custody of the 42 HIV-positive kids.
These heroic measures come at high cost: we estimate $200,000 will be required in the coming year (about $4,600 per child) to cover food, healthcare and medicine, education, clothing, and caregivers for the 42. Once their basic needs are met, the children’s paperwork will be sorted out; some may be eligible for adoption, others may have extended families in a position to allow the children to return. But that is for the future. The crisis is now: keeping these children fed and clothed, paying the salaries of loving caregivers to act as stand-ins for their late parents, making sure there is no break in the life-saving healthcare provided by WWO.
Haregewoin lived with these children seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for ten years. She is irreplaceable. The smallest ones, of course, have no idea what has just happened. Please let us work together to act as foster parents in absentia for these little ones. Thank you in advance for any amount you can give.
Online contributions can be made at http://www.WWO.org.
Specify Campaign for Haregewoin’s Children.
Or checks may be sent to:
511 Valley Street
Maplewood, New Jersey 07040