Mamo Wolde was one of Ethiopia's greatest distance runners. I learned about him through an article in Runner's World written by Kenny Moore. You can find it at the Honolulu Marathon site. Kenny had run against Mamo. Kenny had visited Mamo in Ethiopia. More precisely, Kenny visited Mamo in a prison in Addis Ababa. Kenny gave each of Mamo's two children a Gameboy.
For seven years, I was the admissions "guy" at an international Christian boarding school in Iowa. We brought the Wolde children to Iowa. It took:
a little paperwork,
some calls to Amby Burfoot at Runner's World,
some emails to Kenny Moore,
about 5 phone conversations with Barbara Bowerman,
an intense talk with folks at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa,
and lots of prayer.
Addis Alem and Tabor Wolde lived with us for two years while we worked to get political asylum for their mother. There were no distinctions between our children and them: food, clothes, jokes, Masterpiece [the board game] every night, UNO, snow blowing for the first time. One day, Tabor needed batteries; for his Gamboy. "Where did you get this?"
"From Kenny Moore."
"Yes. When he visited our dad. He came to our house and gave them to us."
In 2006, we all went to Duluth for Grandma's Marathon. Kenny Moore was at a table with his new book about Bowerman. Addis and Tabor were able to see Kenny again. No father. No prison. Tabor asked Kenny if he remembered giving him the Gameboy. Kenny gave them a signed copy of his book.
For more information:
An article from the Des Moines Register.
A blog from another Ethiopian.
An article in the Stillwater Gazette.