You will immediately feel the warmth and love of this family when entering Abay House. Abay is Selamta’s 11th forever family. They came together in 2010, thereby completing Selamta’s first constellation of homes. The family members chose the name “Abay” after the name Ethiopians gave to the Blue Nile, which originates in Ethiopia. Mama Alemnesh has a quiet, gentle, loving presence. Auntie Birhani offers a nice balance with her endless energy and joyous laughter. Birhani was one of the first caregivers to join the Selamta Family in 2006 when the first Children’s Center opened. She “got” the mission of Selamta right away and showered the kids with love while also filling their bellies with wholesome food (she started out as Selamta’s cook).
Mama Alemnesh has a quiet, gentle, loving presence. Before she came to Selamta she had her own small coffee shop around Bethel. She was once married, but after her son Anania was born, her husband walked out of the picture and refused to support her and their child. She is a kind mother, and leads her family with a generous and compassionate demeanor.
Frehiwot is the oldest sibling at Abay House. She is extremely studious and is currently attending University studying Civil Engineering. Her calm, gentle demeanor makes it a joy to be in her company. She has a wonderful relationship with her Mama, Auntie and all her siblings. It is obvious her brothers and sisters look up to her with respect, and she would do anything for them. She was relieved when she was brought to Selamta in 2010 with her two sisters, Fanos and Meaza, because it meant that she could pursue her dreams of education without taking on the responsibility of being the primary caregiver for her sisters.
Miliyon is the oldest boy at Abay House and takes his role-model responsibility seriously. He is a kind, gently young man, who is very patient with his younger siblings. Miliyon joined the Selamta family with his biological brothers Koru and Tsega in 2007. His youngest brother, Tsega was just an infant when they arrived and he diligently watched over him. Miliyon enjoys art, and especially has an interest in origami.
Belisuma came to Selamta in 2009 with his younger siblings Tesfu and Ermias. He was thrilled to learn that Selamta had a soccer team and that they played in tournaments on weekends. Belisuma is another strong male role model as the second oldest boy in the home. He enjoys playing chess and card games with his siblings and friends. Belisuma enjoys gardening, and he helped plant a vegetable garden at his house for the family.
Ermias is a quiet, thoughtful boy with a bright, big smile. He is a great student and particularly likes learning English and Science. Ermias also likes drawing and painting. He loves getting to know Selamta's volunteers, and particularly liked making tie-dye shirts with them one summer. Ermias loves being a member of the Selamta Soccer team with his friends!
Fanos has beautiful traditional tattoos on her chin, indicating that she is from the countryside of Ethiopia. She is a shy, very sweet young lady who enjoys sharing the traditional coffee ceremony with guests, when they visit her home. She is often found alongside her mother and auntie, willingly helping them with household chords. Fanos likes making jewelry, especially woven friendship bracelets and beaded rings.
Koru is a few years younger than his brother, Miliyon, and loves goofing around. His favorite activity is playing soccer with friends. In Amharic soccer is called “cwas,” which simply means “ball.” Koru is very studious and has consistently ranked at the top of his class in school, a fact he takes great pride in sharing. He likes practicing his English and also enjoys drawing and painting.
Tesfu is the jokester of Abay House. He is always laughing and acting playful. He likes playing games and being active. During the summer he took part in a gymnastics/circus program led by a volunteer. He learned tumbling, juggling and much more in the class. He is currently an avid soccer player on the Selamta Team. He is also a member of Selamta's Reading and Library Committee.
Meaza is a bright girl, that loves spending quality time with her family and friends. She enthusiastically takes part in a gymnastics/circus program where she has learned how to do back bends, splits, and pyramids. The instructor is impressed with her abilities and encourages her to keep practicing. Meaza is a conscientious student. Her older sister, Frehiwot, set a great example for her, and encourages her to study hard and do well in school.
Tsega was the youngest Selamta child for many years and is adored by all. He came to Selamta as an infant and he just might be the most photographed child on earth. Tsega arrived at Selamta with some health challenges, but the Selamta caregivers and his siblings watch over him with care and love. He loves dancing traditional “Eskesta,” which can be translated into “Dancing shoulders.” It is amazing how he gets those shoulders moving in rhythm. He also loves playing with his siblings and friends – their laughter is quite contagious.
Anania is the littlest at Abay house. He is Mama Alemnesh’s biological child. His Selamta siblings absolutely adore him, especially Tsega, who is closest in age to Anania, and who loves being an older brother after being the youngest for many years. Anania loves stuffed animals and dancing to Ethiopian music. He attends Kindergarten daily, and is learning his alphabet letters. He provides amusement and joy to the entire family.