National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

Are we going to Hallelujah?

June 2015

By Tasema James

Tesema is thirteen. He was four years old when he was adopted from Ethiopia. Now a Year 8 student at Tatachilla Lutheran College in South Australia, Tesema shares his feelings about being welcomed.

I was born in 2001. We lived in Addis Ababa. As a child we were very poor. We lived in a mud house, I think. We slept on the floor.

Our clothes were very dirty because we had to wear the same clothes every day.

I can’t remember what we had to eat. The water we had to drink was very unclean. We didn’t have a toilet, just went outside at the back. What I remember about Ethiopia is it was very dry.

My mum was usually a cheerful person. She had to walk a lot. My dad was very protective. He loved us. He slept right next to the door in case anyone tried to barge into the house.

One day my dad took me to work. He died in front of me. He worked with animals and he got charged by a bull. I knew he’d died, and I felt really sad. Our mum was really sad for a long time.

Mum couldn’t care for us, and we had to go to the orphanage.

My little brother Abebaw went with me. The orphanage had green sheds we stayed in, and one main building in a square shape. I was two-anda- half years old when I went there. Abebaw was just a baby.

‘It was really late at night when we went, so I can’t really remember saying goodbye to my mother. It was far from our house, and we went there by minivan. I have never seen my birth mother since. At the orphanage our only food was mashed potatoes twice a day.

I was told I was going to get adopted, and that Abebaw was going to come with me. That was really good, because I knew we were going to go somewhere better.

While we kids over the age of one-and-a-half only had mashed potatoes, the kids under that age had really good food. I got jealous of that. One day the lady who fed the little ones was late to turn up, and we went over and ate the food of the young ones. It was yummy. There was a good time once. The lady turned up late again.

There was a big green door she had to open up to get into the orphanage. It was good she turned up late because we got into the room for the little ones, where they had toys. It was the first time we ever got to play with toys.

Then we heard her coming, and we had the quickest clean-up of our life. At the orphanage Abebaw was picked on a bit. One time he wanted to go outside, and there were these guys making a fire, and they grabbed him and put his hand over the fire. I quickly went over and got him and took him away. But he had a big black mark on his arm. We were at the orphanage for a year-and-a-half.

I was told I was going to get adopted, and that Abebaw was going to come with me. That was really good, because I knew we were going to go somewhere better.