Published Fri, Oct 11, 19.
Written by Scott Chleborad.

What happens when love and ambition collide? Spoiler ALERT! Love wins. 


This is the story of a young man who chose late nights and dirty shoes over a university scholarship, all for the love of his mother. We'll call him Desta. But his real name and identity are hidden for privacy and protection. 


Our Ethiopia travel team from the United States first met Desta in June of 2019 when we visited the Adams Thermal Academies in Hosanna and Ottoro. Our first night in Hosanna, we invited some college students to join us for dinner. All of these students attended Adams Thermal Academy Hosanna and were now pursuing their post-secondary degrees at local universities. It was so exciting to hear their stories and see them succeeding academically. But one story in particular stood out. That was Desta's story.


Desta finished the 10th grade two years ago when Adams Thermal Academy Hosanna did not offer grades 11 and 12. But the Academy prepared Desta well and he finished his high school education at another school in Hosanna. Desta took the university entrance exam and earned a scholarship. But there was a problem. His mother was homeless and unable to work. Occasionally, Desta's mother would sell items out on the sidewalk to those who passed by. But essentially, she was unable to care for herself. Most of the students at Adams Thermal Academies come from a poverty-stricken home. Their hope and inspiration is to live a different life than previous generations. But Desta could not allow his mother to continue suffering. So he turned down the university scholarship which he had rightfully earned through his own hard work and determination. 

Instead, Desta chose to start his own business cleaning and shining shoes so that he could pay rent and care for his mother. In addition, Desta is going to Wachemo University in Hosanna at night, studying to earn a degree in business administration. Rather than using the scholarship he had earned, Desta has to pay for his university classes out of his own pocket because he is attending at night. But Desta is glad to put his mother's needs ahead of his own plans. Ultimately, Desta hopes to work in a bank or elsewhere in the financial services industry when he gets his degree. 

We were grateful to have met Desta and to celebrate not only his achievements but his integrity and his heart as well. The day after our dinner meeting with Desta, we took the often perilous trip to Ottoro in the middle of the rainy season. Not surprisingly, we ended up hiking the last 5 kilometers through the mud. We were joyfully welcomed, as we always are, by the students at Adams Thermal Academy Ottoro. And Desta had a lot of shoes to clean when he got back to the hotel that night. As is often the case when we visit Ethiopia, there were blessings around every corner during our last trip. Maybe you should consider joining us on one of our future excursions. 

If you'd like to travel to Adams Thermal Academies and meet your sponsored child in Ethiopia, let us know well in advance so we can help you plan and prepare. Call 877-678-1099 or send us an email at