There’s more to Andualem’s story than his physical transformation and the surgeries that gave him the ability to walk on his feet instead of his knees.
Perhaps one of the more meaningful changes in his life? He tells us: “Before Andualem, I had another name.”
Andualem was born with painful mobility problems caused by bilateral clubfoot (affecting both feet) and tightening muscles in his legs and wrist. His parents sought treatment at a local hospital near their home in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. After treatment, he was left with both legs locked at a 90-degree angle, forcing him to crawl on his knees and use his hands for balance.
His mom, Worke, said, “I called him Ayichew [meaning ‘I saw him’ in Amharic], thinking to myself, let me see what he will become.”
What he became was a spirited, intelligent little boy who, unbound by his severe physical limitations, had unlimited dreams for himself. “I often saw myself walking upright and running in my dreams,” he said. “I lived in the hope that I would one day walk and run.”
Every dreamer needs a champion, and for Andualem, that was his mom. She was determined to do anything she could to give her son a future. But dreams only get you so far.
Carried by a Mother’s Love
The face of determination: Andualem’s mother, Worke, carried her son to and from school in hopes of giving him an education and a future.
Ethiopia’s 2.7 million children living with treatable disabilities often remain at the fringes of society–unable to go to school, vulnerable to deepening poverty, and mocked in their communities.
Worke knew that without an education, Andualem would have little hope of a future. Despite his father’s resistance, she enrolled him in school and carried him each way on her back. It was then that she changed his name from Ayichew (“let me see what he will become”) to Andualem, who already knew that God had a plan for his life.
Connected to CURE by a Stranger’s Kindness
One day, a driver saw Worke struggling to carry her growing son to school and stopped to learn their story. The driver came back later with a wheelchair from a local healthcare center–and a recommendation to visit CURE Children’s Hospital of Ethiopia.
Andualem received his first surgery in 2013 at age 14. After multiple surgeries over four years, today Andualem is walking and pursuing his dream of becoming a doctor. Even better, his heart is at peace with God thanks to CURE Ethiopia’s ministry team. Andualem said, “They helped me have hope and not get stressed out. They showed me love and humility and taught me Bible verses.”
Andualem believes God had a plan for his life and that generous CURE donors were part of that plan: “God has brought me this far . . . He wanted to use me as an example to show His healing. CURE has done so much for me . . . I’d like to thank everyone who supported my healing through their donations.”
It took four years and several surgeries for Andualem to be able to stand straight and walk. He says, “I’d like to thank everyone who supported my healing through their donations.”
When children receive the transformational medical care they desperately need, their communities experience change, as well. When Andualem returned home, he said the community that once mocked him welcomed him “like I was some important official.” Children ran out to greet him, bulls were slaughtered, which is customary for celebrations, and 60 teachers were invited to join the party.
“My healing re-established the relationship I had with members of my community,” said Andualem. “People who were distant became close friends . . . and many said, ‘If people who didn’t even know Andualem could treat him and help him walk, much more is expected from us.’”
Worke can rest a little easier now and tells us, “People are also amazed when they see Andualem. They tell me, ‘You have seen how far your son has come; you can die without any regrets.’”
Andualem’s transformation is a testament to a mother’s love, the generosity of CURE’s partners, and a God who loves all His children and calls them by name. (John 10:3).