Abduselam Jemal’s Story

Diagnosis: Abduselam, a 14-year-old boy, has a severe deformity and his lung function is 38% of predicted. He needs corrective surgery to fix this, and his family needs support to get them off the streets.

Mother’s name: Geynea Mohamad

Three years ago, Abduselam was in an accident. He was running to open the door for someone and then suddenly slipped and took a hard fall. Time passed, and then a small swelling appeared in his neck, soon after he began coughing, which turned into heavy wheezing, and was then sent immediately to Sanbanekersa hospital. The doctors diagnosed him with TB, and he began a vigorous cycle of medical treatment. After the TB treatment, they thought his health improved, but with time his back slowly started deforming, and he had trouble doing the simplest things, like walking to school, climbing up a hill, and playing sports with his friends.

He tells me that he’s afraid to try the same activities that he once used to do so freely, because he fears something bad might happen to him again.

Abduselam is now in the 8th grade at Selaum Ber, which is a 30-minute drive from where he lives. His favorite subject is social studies, because it requires a lot of work, and if he can’t challenge himself physically, then he finds challenging himself with his studies. He’s ranked as number 3 in his classroom. When I ask him what he would do with 500 birr if he had it, he tells me: “I will go to stationary and would buy something important for my education and the rest of money would go to my family.”

His best friend is Shimales. They see each other everyday at school and spend most their time studying together. Abduselam wants to be a doctor when he grows up and when I ask him why not a social studies teacher, his favorite subject, he answers: “If loving social studies will not restrict me from being a doctor, then I would like to be one”. One of his favorite things to do is to play football (soccer), but because he has trouble breathing, he doesn’t play as often as he used to three years ago.

His father passed away about two years ago from unknown causes and his mother Geynea, works as a daily laborer selling tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables. On a good day, she earns about 5 to 10 birr, which is less than 1 US dollar. She tells me that one of her biggest struggles has been trying to raise and support her 4 children on her own, because ever since her husband passed away life has been much more difficult.

They used to rent a small mud house, but because their income is so low, they couldn’t afford to continue with the payment. Thus, they are now living under a plastic cover on a road in an area called Kalfe. They have no running water, plumbing or electricity, and they use the side of the road as their bathroom.

Most of their income goes towards food and water, and if medical treatment is needed, then they go to a nearby health center, which provides basic services for cheap payment. He tells me that he admires his mother the most in this world, because he sees how much she struggles to make them happy and for that he loves her above anything or anyone.

–Rick Hodes, M.D.

Back to Abduselam Jemal’s Profile

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