[photo:Hiwot & her Uncle Abraha Misghina in D.C. at Capitol, April 2020.]
“Why is America such a great country?”, a quizzical high-schooler once asked Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Who replied: “She is great because her people are virtuous, truly good.” And only then.
NCCL has a lot of truly good Americans and Ethiopian family members to thank for coming to the rescue of Hiwot Tesfagiorgis Yohannes.
Beginning at the beginning, first to thank is Hiwot’s devoted Mother, who never abandoned her sick child, and has cared for her heroically — even risking life & limb among international slave traffickers to make the perilous journey to far away Israel, so she could, for years, by her manual day labors and nights of tear-filled prayers support her two daughters with bare subsistence back in Irob, Ethiopia.
Then there is her Uncle Abraha Misghina, who took Hiwot into his home & care in far-away Addis Ababa, after her Father had abandoned his little child in the remote, war-torn Irob region of militarized & drought-stricken northern Ethiopia. Had it not been for the quietly tenacious, plodding-scientific skills of Uncle Abraha, now exiled in asylum in Washington, D.C. — where he took in Hiwot yet again when she arrived there in April — Hiwot would never have stood a chance finally to arrive at the hospital in Columbus.
Then there is Dr. Alexander Rakowsky, who got everything started by his seeming-simple act of charity: asking a world-class surgeon-colleague at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to perform state-of-the-art, highly specialized bowel surgery on a young Girl nobody knew and whose name nobody could even quite pronounce living, barely, in a part of the world no one til then had even heard of before.
Then, of course, there is Dr. Richard Woods, the world-class surgeon who — also purely out of the generosity & goodness of his own heart … and wise head, and skilled hands — performed surgery on Hiwot this passed Monday. Dr. Woods also examined Hiwot twice while visiting his surgical associates in hospital in Addis Ababa in recent years.
This man deserves the Medal of Honor! And of Valor! And a whole lot more.
Then, there is Meg Heischman, Patient Coordinator at the Hospital, who so patiently and persistently advocated for Hiwot with the Board of charity at the Hospital, and who also served faithfully and efficiently and courteously and beautifully and suavely and professionally and steadily and gracefully as lead-communicator for the Hospital with the patient Hiwot, with NCCL apostolate, and with Hiwot’s family sponsors in Columbus.
And Nurse Stephanie Vyrostek, whose peacefulness and perfect expertise prepared a young Girl, who cannot speak English and living across the world, for treatments and surgery in an hospital on the other side of the globe; and then received Hiwot with tender loving care.
If you don’t love attorneys — or any attorney yet at all, get ready to change your mind: because Atty. Tessa Jabe-Parsons donated countless billable hours of her expertise to prepare the legal work to bring a Girl she also never met half-way around the world, during a pandemic, dealing with hospitals in two countries, governments in two countries, a Dept. of State, an Embassy, and Homeland Security, then TSA and Immigration — and all her paperwork brisked Hiwot not only across the world but through a locked-down airport in D.C.
And who paid for all the expenses of visa and parole applications, and gave their word of guarantee to the U.S. Gov’t for Hiwot’s maintainence while in the U.S.A.? That is her Uncle Selemon and Aunt Shashe, hard-working, dedicated, loving Ethiopian-Americans who immigrated to Columbus 20 years ago and got busy building a small business and raising a big Family of loving Ethiopian-Americans.
Then there is Ellen Kinker, Special Caseworker and Aide to U.S. Senator Robert Portman of Ohio. Ellen patiently and generously navigated NCCL and Hiwot’s sponsors through the government’s rules, processes, and many offices, and also briefed and guided the Senator through the difficult questions of immigration and visa requirements for the young Ethiopian.
And Senator Portman himself, who twice dialed the Embassy in Addis Ababa to advocate for a Girl in a faraway land he never met or knew he cared for until he heard her cry for help through the voices of NCCL’s Directors and Hiwot’s sponsors. Senator Portman’s polite but insistent questioning of the State Department’s officials in Addis Ababa, asking what might be done despite the twice-rejected applications for visa, finally elicited the answer: apply to the Dept. of Homeland Security for medical parole.
Last, but hardly least, because first there were countless ‘prayer-warriors’ who joined The Lloyd Children, a couple of whom actually prayed a ‘novena’ of one whole year, every day begging God to spare Hiwot, by bringing her to America for the needed surgery. Who doubts that God hears and answers prayers? “Master, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind?”, the Disciples asked Jesus? “Lord, why was Hiwot born sick?”, asked those praying for her. And He gave the same answer. “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”, and in sick Hiwot, both made well by Him working through the hands and hearts of many.
Don’t you just love your fellow Americans? Is it any wonder practically everyone else in the world wants to come to These Shores to love the same people? And to think: their God is even infinitely more lovable.
All those people made it possible, cooperating with The Lord God of History Who Counts the Hairs on Hiwot’s Head, to cross country, continents, oceans, and international boundaries during a world-wide lockdown when most everyone else was afraid to cross the street.
And they did it all pro-bono — freely, and gratis — out of the goodness of their great, big, virtuous hearts.
That’s the America we all know who still love her.
Glory and thanks be to The Great God of this lovable Land which He sustains in His providence & mercy.