Betelhem Markose

Patient’s name: Betelhem Markose

Mother’s name: Tagesech

Betelhem is a 12 year old girl with pigtails who has been living with spine disease for many years. She has been to Ghana 3 times for surgery which placed “growing rods” to allow her spine to grow and remain somewhat straight. She needs another, final surgery to fix her back in place.

She comes from a very poor family; her father walked out when her younger brother was born, leaving her mother to scramble to find work in a factory. The 3 of them live in a single mud room, sleeping on the floor. At one point, her mom tried to give up her brother for adoption because she could not afford him.

This year Betelhem is not going to school because they had no money for school fees. She says, “I study and I tutor myself, about Amharic, English, and math. I like math.” She chooses to do this on her own for about two hours a day, because she wants to be prepared for medical school, as she’s working on becoming a doctor. When I ask her why she wants to be a doctor, she says: “Because I want to treat the poor people, like me”.

— Rick Hodes, M.D.

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