Saturday, May 21, 2011

Happy Birthday and Second Anniversary of Vancouver Arrival Tesfaye!


It was two years ago on his birthday, on May 20, 2009 that Tesfaye finally arrived in Vancouver to start a new chapter in his life.  Finally, his difficult 12 year quest for life-changing corrective spine surgery and my own year long "roller coaster" ride in trying to get it done for him here in Vancouver had become a reality, and a new exciting and emotional shared journey for Tesfaye and my family was about to begin. Reflecting back, following is a link to the beginning entries of my blog recounting what happened the first couple of days after his arrival: . . I did not fulfill my ambition of covering all of the first 23 days of activities before the day of surgery - maybe some day for my own edification I will fill it in. In summary, it was filled with tens of hours of pre-op hospital testing and education, Vancouver sight seeing, meeting local Ethiopians, and many good meals trying to fatten Tesfaye up for his upcoming surgery.

I was able to reach Tesfaye in Addis and wish him a Happy Birthday.  As usual, he was upbeat, positive and thankful. He is finishing his Grade 7 school year in a month and then is taking a summer course.  His older brother Semenye came down from the village last week and stayed with him for a few days. Semenye came to escort one of his wife's brothers Wendim who is quite ill and was told by the doctors in the nearest cities to his village to make the trip to the capital Addis to seek medical help. It appears that he has a chronic kidney illness and at this time is getting some help at the Mother Theresa Mission. Tesfaye tells me that Wendim is in Grade 10 and a very good student, ranking first of second out of around 60 students, but he is very sick. As Tesfaye said in an email, " I wish to him, may God give a treatment".

Monday, January 17, 2011

A New Year begins / reflections back/Dr. Rick visits Vancouver and Denver

Our Tesfaye - loved and missed by my family. We have remained in regular contact with Tesfaye by email and occasional telephone call. He is doing well and working hard at school. He remains the most positive and happy individual I know, and so thankful for the change his spine surgery has brought to his outlook on life. I cannot stop thinking back fondly to my amazing experience last Feb./March going with him to his village in Gojaam for his first post-surgery family reunion.

What a great way to start 2011 - inspired again by Dr. Rick Hodes visit to Vancouver the weekend of Jan. 7-9 2011:

Jan.7  After picking him up Friday morning the 7th and a brief stop at our home to freshen up, we went to our noon gathering at VGH for a round (actually square) table discussion with UBC medical faculty interested in global health initiatives. Rick's presentation stimulated a number of discussions about his work and challenges they all have experienced dealing with medical programs in developing countries. A couple of the big issues were developing local sustainability and cooperation between NGO's. I believe some ongoing relationship/assistance between the doctors/UBC medical faculty and Rick's Ethiopian medical programmes may evolve from this session.
   I then took Rick for an interview with the Jewish Independent newspaper, which subsequently published on January 14/11 a very nicely written article by Basya Laye  about Rick being an inspiring example of the Jewish concept of "Tikun Olam" - repairing the world one soul at a time.
   With barely a moment to rest, we then went to the Friday night Shabbat Scholars Dinner featuring Rick as the main speaker. After dinner the crowd of close to 200 gathered in the sanctuary where I had the honour and always great pleasure of introducing my hero Rick and his inspiring work to the large crowd of people, most of whom had never met or heard Rick before. It being the Sabbath, without the benefit of audio/visual aid, Rick kept the crowd captivated and disarmed with his great sense of humour for close to an hour, including answering a number of questions at the end.
Jan.8/9  Saturday allowed Rick to rest at our house and catch up on a few things. Sunday we had a planning session with the Seattle JDC official Michael Novick to talk about future administrative and fundraising support for Rick's activites, followed by a late afternoon presentation to a small group of invited guests to my house who were mostly familiar with Tesfaye's story and were interested in meeting Rick with a view to possibly supporting his initiatives. In fact,as expected, all who attended were inspired and touched by his selfless humanitarian work, and I am pleased by the generous donations that flowed from that session.           
    Monday morning at 4:30 am I took this tireless hero, Rick, to the airport for his flight to San Diego to do more fundraising and medical presentations. I have seen Rick's hectic pace of life and work on numerous occasions in Ethiopia, and at my house and over the course of the weekend it did not slow up; he does not sleep very much, hence dozes off here, there and anywhere when there are a few minutes that might allow it.

Next Report: Attending Denver's Dinner of Unconditional Love honouring Rick