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1) Discretionary funds sent directly to Serkadis are preferred.

These funds assist Serkadis and Selam with living and medical expenses directly. Funds can be transferred to Account #2460970244, Routing # 121000358 (for electronic) and 122000661 (for paper). Checks can be made out to "Serkadis Krohm" memoline "Selam Fund" and sent to the address below.

2) For Tax Exempt Donations:

To give a tax-exempt donation your support will be given to Serkadis and Selam through the Child Leader Project, an international non-profit committed to youth and young adult leadership in a global community. Please note, PayPal does charge a small % fee per transaction. If you would like all of your funds to support the Selam Fund, please consider sending a check or money order to "Selam Fund C/O Child Leader Project, P.O. Box 51333, Riverside, CA 92517". Please make your check out to "Child Leader Project" with "Selam Fund" in the memo line.

For more information about Child Leader Project, visit

What the Selam Fund needs...

- Donations to support medical and living expenses for Selam and Serkadis

- Physical therapist-

- Occupational therapist

- An Immigration lawyer to assist with Selam's case for coming to the USA

- Accessible
housing near to UCR and accessible via wheelchair

- Wheelchair and other mobility supplies

To assist, please email:

GRATITUDE: What we have received... (As of 8 Oct 2011)

- Accountant to assist with financial accountability for our non-profit sponsor, Child Leader Project

- $12,000+ in donations from the community since 1 Oct 2011!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Letter from Serkadis: Our Family and History

Hello Readers,

My name is Serkadis. I am 22 years old and I was born in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. My mother died when I was nine years old leaving her five girls behind. My mother’s dying request was that her children stay together, but situations did not allow that to happen. So, me and my younger sister Samrawit, who was 5 years old were placed in an orphanage while our older sisters, Seble, 18, Selam, 16, and Biruktawit (Mimi), 13, had to fend for themselves because they were too old to be placed in an orphanage. My younger sister and I stayed in the orphanage for 2.5 years, until an American family in California adopted us when I was 11 and Samrawit was 7 years old.

We looked forward to the amazing life that was promised to us in America. Unfortunately, the life that we were given in the US was far from amazing. Our adopted mother, and her daughter, abused us, neglected us, and refused to put us in school. They made racist comments towards us and forced us to sit in the house in one position for hours at a time. Sometimes our adopted mother would leave the house without leaving food for us. Pretty quickly, the neighbors’ figured out that something wasn’t right and called Child Protective Services. We were then removed from her and placed in foster care where we moved around quite often and got separated along the way. Moving around from house to house was difficult. To make matters worse, we didn’t have any contact with our sisters in Ethiopia. We didn’t know if our sisters were dead or alive.

Despite all the instabilities and difficulties, we managed to get excellent grades in school. I graduated as one of the top students from my high school and as the best distance runner in my league. I am now a fourth year Psychology student at the University of California Riverside.

My younger sister remains in foster care, and is in her last year of high school.

During the time we were in the United States, our eldest sister Seble passed away, Mimi went to Lebanon on a working Visa, and Selam moved around between Ethiopia, Somalia, and Lebanon.

The two remaining sisters (MiMi and Selam) worked as housekeepers from house to house. When we found them in 2007, we learned about Seble’s death. It was devastating to know that along with our parents, we had lost our oldest sister and didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye to her.

As if matters couldn’t get any worse, in August of 2011, I saw a picture of Selam on facebook lying in a hospital bed, unconscious. Then I called my sister Mimi and learned that Selam was involved in a terrible car accident and was in a critical condition. Immediately, I went to Lebanon to pick up Mimi. On the flight heading there my heart was racing. I couldn’t believe that I was going to see my sister after 11 long years. When I saw her, I froze; I didn’t know what to do. I had imagined this moment far too many times and it did not feel the way I thought it would. Neither of us knew whether to be happy or sad.
Two days after I arrived in Lebanon, we flew to Turkey to care for our injured sister in Antakya, Turkey. We stayed by her side day in and day out, sleeping in the hospital for a month. While Selam was stabilized in the hospital, I contacted a support network, including my college professor, high school principal, mentor, and friends in the US. They tried to arrange for Selam to come to the United States because my younger sister Samrawit and I are here, and because she needs surgery to restore bowel and bladder control that could not be completed in Turkey. We all feel that she is likely to die or suffer interminably as a paralyzed female in Ethiopia.  
While her UN refugee application was in process, the Turkish hospital discharged Selam in the middle of the night by ambulance and took all of us to some kind of holding facility. At that point, our support network in the US flew us to Istanbul, Turkey in the hopes of providing proximity to more resources. Unfortunately, Selam's condition worsened quickly in Turkey and because we could not get any assistance from the UN in a timely manner, we decided it was best that she be returned to Ethiopia temporarily. Mimi went with her.
Ethiopian doctors have examined Selam and they are in agreement that she requires treatment outside of Ethiopia. Her situation is very high risk because there are no resources to provide her with the surgery she needs to recover bowel/bladder function and no way for her to obtain the intensive physical therapy she needs to regain some level of independence in Ethiopia. In addition, Selam is perceived as cursed by the devil in our culture and shunned (and at risk for worse outcomes) as a result. She is in dire need of treatment and the support of her family here in the US.
We are seeking any kind of assistance to bring my sister to the US, even if only temporarily. She needs to get medical care and rehabilitation so that she can stand a chance of survival in Ethiopia. Once she has the right treatment in the US, she will at least be in a better shape if she has to go back to Ethiopia and wait for the right applications to be processed in order to return to the US. We have a viable sponsor willing to support Selam, a strong network of support for all of us, and a medical organization that may be able to donate the bowel surgery she needs.
To say we have been through a lot is an understatement. We have been hurdling obstacles our entire lives and just when we thought we were getting a break, this happened. I understand life is not always fair but it seems it has been especially unfair to us. We lost both of our parents and our sister early in our lives; we cannot handle any more loss. While living, our mother worked most days to put food on the table, so Selam was the one who raised us. She went barefoot in order to raise us and cared for our mom and sister, Seble, until their dying days. After all that she had done, I cannot understand why something like this would happen to her. I am back in school and am having a hard time concentrating in my studies knowing that my sister is in desperate need of treatment here in the US.
If you can help with this process or you know someone who might be able to help, please help us give my sister a chance at a healthy, fulfilling life that she would not get otherwise in Ethiopia.

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