By Lavi Matesan,
Reporter and Photojournalist for Jewish Voice
DATELINE: Gondar, Ethiopia
While searching for a story to highlight on camera during the Jewish Voice medical mission to Gondar, Ethiopia, reporter/photographer Lavi Matesan shares the story about the day she and the Jewish Voice media team found this poor 13-year-old boy waiting to see the dentist.
He stood thin but glowing when the media team and me first met him outside the dental clinic in Gondar, Ethiopia, during our Jewish Voice medical outreach. Asmoro was his name, and he was patiently waiting to see the dentist for an anticipated extraction to alleviate his tooth pain.
Though barefoot with torn, dirty clothes, this lanky 13-year-old boy was all smiles when we approached him. And though we couldn’t get him into the dental clinic that day because it was already late and 30 other people were ahead of him in line, we guaranteed him priority entrance to the clinic if he would return the next day.
The following day, Asmoro got his wish – the end of his pain! Despite being gauze-mouthed, he was smiling still and happy to receive medicine, vitamins, a toothbrush, and toothpaste from Jewish Voice.
When we asked if he would like to go to the counseling room to be prayed for, he answered “yes,” his head nodding in big swings of approval. This boy wanted all that we had to offer.
While waiting outside the Prayer Room for the next available prayer warrior, we discovered that Asmoro was an Orthodox Ethiopian who was supporting his mother by working as a day laborer for 4 -6 birr (25 cents USD) per day. Asmoro told us with sadness that his mother had tried to shake the “demon possession” by visiting priests who would sprinkle her with holy water.
While he was receiving prayer, our Director of Global Outreach, Jonathan Gannon, went off to find Asmoro a couple of blankets and a Bible to take with him as gifts from us to him and his mom. Along with these free items, we also gave him a solar-powered audio Bible called a MegaVoice, since it was revealed that he had only had up to a second grade education and likely could not read. I have a feel he will put that electronic Bible to good use.
As Asmoro started walking down the road toward home wrapped in his scarf to shield him from the sun with bag in hand filled with two blankets, two new T-shirts, a pair of pants, the written Word, and MegaVoice unit, I realized he wasn’t just our story, we were blessed enough to be his — a group of people that loved him for a tooth extraction, a prayer, and some waiting time… and on into eternity.
Now my prayer for him is simply this: Oh, Lord, remind Asmoro of Your great love for him and of the people that hope to see him again next year in Gondar.