The first time I met Milkias he had just come back from the hospital for the first time after his surgery. He was already in high spirits and happy to have returned home. Almost immediately, Milkias and I had a great connection. He would come to me during all my shifts to hold my hand, while I greeted everyone else in my round around the room.
In effort to make our activities educational, we brought out a stencil alphabet to have the kids trace out the English letters. Milkias, as curious as he is, excitedly copied down all the letters and learned to write his name. Though Milkias is 13-years-old, his life-threatening heart condition impeded his ability to make the daily trek to school, cutting off his access to education. After our mini letters lesson together, we took it to a level more applicable for him back home, mathematics. We went through numerical symbols, learning 1 through 10. I then poured out pick-up sticks on the table and set up a basic addition problem both with the sticks and written on the page. After studying the two piles of pick-up sticks I had organized to illustrate the basic math problem, Milkias wrote something down on his paper and gestured for me to check his answer. I smiled and gave him a well-deserved high-five. After my first math lesson with him, Milkias made a routine of greeting me at the gate of the SACH home every morning, eagerly awaiting our daily lessons together.
My hope for Milkias, who left to return to Ethiopia on my last day, is that he can now go to school. Our little lessons together were just the start. As a student, Milkias is so intrinsically curious and driven, giving him endless potential for growth. Thanks to the help of SACH for fixing his heart, he can now unlock this potential and thrive.