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From Civil War To Caring For The Poor

From Civil War to Caring for The Poor

By Clint Kelly (

In a country at civil war, whenever the opposition soldiers invaded, Eyob Tesfayohannes '10 and his three sisters hid beneath their mother's bed.

Times of peace afforded little added safety. Their small Ethiopian village had no health clinic. While Tesfayohannes was yet a toddler, the village medicine man used an iron pulled from the fire to burn the "scoliosis" from his body. Multiple scars remain. "I knew, even though I was young, that if there had been a clinic, I would not have been a victim," he says.

A nurse technician at Harborview Medical Center, Tesfayohannes has dedicated his life to helping people receive proper medical treat ment. "My passion is to go where poor people don't have enough ... and help them."

The road to graduation from SPU was not easy. His father died, and his mother had to move to Saudi Arabia to work as a domestic in support of her family. It took Tesfayohannes three years to be allowed to emigrate to America. At SPU, he juggled school, two jobs, and worry for his sisters and ill mother, whom he continues to support as much as he can.

Others came to his aid to help him secure that all-important diploma. Donors gave funds. Professors kept a close eye on his progress, helping him stave off discouragement. The question of why God brought him here pushed him to succeed. "Everyone wants freedom, everyone's supposed to have it," says the future international humanitarian. "Here I can be whatever I want."