ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia—Four months ago, Masresha returned to her home county of Ethiopia after 13 years. One of her first stops was her SOS Village.
“Coming back here after such a long time gives me a feeling of nostalgia,” said Masresha, 26.
At age 5, Masresha was welcomed into her SOS Family at the SOS Village in Addis Ababa, which was opened in 1981 and today is home to more than 200 children.
“I remember vividly the day I arrived. I first took a shower and then ate lunch. I liked it here, the terrain was big, the house was big, the place was clean and I liked seeing other kids,” Masresha said. “Life here was entertaining, kids playing together, playing soccer in the bedroom, every day was an adventure.”
Masresha never met her biological parents. At the SOS Village, she was given a chance to grow up in a loving, stable family.
“My SOS Family has created a good foundation for who I am today,” she said. “I have been equipped with the necessary skills I need, and I believe so have the other young people. I have been given the ingredients I need to start off in life.”
Masresha bonds with one of the youngest members of her SOS Family at the SOS Village in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Masresha catches up with some of the older children growing up in her SOS Family at the SOS Village in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Masresha was a self-described overachiever in school, and her SOS Mother always encouraged her to work hard and pursue her dreams. At age 12, Masresha received a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school in Swaziland. Some thought Masresha was too young to go, but her mother never wavered in her support.
After graduating from the boarding school, Masresha took her academic talents to the United States, where she earned a bachelor’s degree at Lake Forest College in Illinois. Just four months ago, she returned to Ethiopia.
“I realized that I would be more useful if I were to come back here,” Masresha said. I had left my home country at quite a young age and so I had forgotten many things—my family, my culture, and I was disconnected from who I really am. I came back to look for that connection again.”
Masresha also came back to teach English and mentor women and girls. She currently teaches English at an international school in Ethiopia. After school, she volunteers at an international leadership academy.
“I want to help vulnerable children who are bright, giving back what I have received, creating a doorway for them. If someone had not done it for me I would not be here doing it for others,” Masresha said.
In a few years, Masresha wants to earn a master’s degree and open a non-governmental organization that addresses critical issues in Ethiopia that women and girls face, such as abuse.