A small, rural town called Yirgalem lies in the heart of Southern Ethiopia, and is home to a 17 year old aspiring scientist named Dawit.
Dawit’s journey has been nothing short of laborious. His father is no longer in the picture and his mother, deeply affected with mental illness, lacks the necessary healthcare and resources to provide for her family. As a result, Dawit and his three sisters share the hardship of managing the home and their mother’s illness. The family receives 450 birr ($15 USD) per month in aid to cover rent and food expenses, but the remainder of the financial burdens fall on Dawit and his three sisters.
In addition to assuming financial responsibility, Dawit is also expected to maintain the household; he washes clothes, collects firewood and prepares meals when he can. Completing these responsibilities is debilitating to his mental and physical health—something as simple as walking to get water for his family requires a near 2 mile walk.
Despite his unfortunate situation, Dawit excels in schooling. The periodic table pinned proudly to his wall prompts him to share his aspirations for the future. His eyes glimmer with enthusiasm and he says that he dreams of becoming a scientist; he wants to study space, satellites and the universe. He wonders if he might one day find a whole new world. Although he seems optimistic at this moment, he adds that his hope is dwindling.
“When my mother’s illness began, I lost my studying time and my inspiration to change my life,” he says.