19 February 2018

Ethiopia: Dauntless Doing the Unthinkable


Yosef Bekele was born in 1964 E.C in the heart of Addis Ababa in the area commonly known as Kess Sefer. His family later moved to Kassanchis. He loves Kassanchis with all his heart. He was born with a disability-- flappy hands. He could not even walk. Hence, he did not play childhood games with his age mates. Even worse, his whole body could even move slightly. He was doing everything getting help from his family members as there was nothing he could do on his own.

There was no stone his mother left unturned to pull her son out of the problem that was shackling his hand and foot. Yosef's mother made an effort to make him get the whole lot that life offers. Though her dream could not bear fruit within the shortest time possible, she did not give up hope often. She jump started taking him to different Holy Water Centers without losing hope. She could not find instantaneous solution wherever she took her son. People were telling her not to try anything given that her son's problem was a natural one that could not be changed no matter what came. Yosef's mother simply gave the cold shoulder for such advisers. She was not interested to lend her ears for anything which poured cold water on her efforts.

As chance would have it, all her efforts did not go up in smoke. Little by little, Yosef's health condition kept on improving. But the mother could not believe her eyes considering her son's health improvement now and then. "St. Urael's holy water had helped me improve my health and wellness!" he says.

Yosef was born from a low pursed family. His dad was the sole bread winner of the family. He was struggling day in and day out to make ends meet. Their father was their only hope next to the Heavenly Father.

At some point, as ill luck would have it, Yosef's father went to meet his maker. They did not know what they had to do. They got shocked. They did not know the way out. Inch by inch, the situation of the family kept on falling every so often. They did not have a morsel of food left at home. The entire family fell in trouble. Yosef was the fourth child of the family. "I had to do something to rescue my family from the trouble they are in.,"he used to worry

He had to do something. When he was at a loss what to do, he kick started begging passersby in Mosques and churches. His mother was not interested to see her son asking for alms. It was like a bitter pill to swallow. She was confused. She did not want her son to lead his life this way.

She did want to worry her son for the sake of their daily bread. She was simply dreaming of sending him to school. As he was a physically challenged person, the situation of sending Yosef to school was easier said than done.

He joined priest school and started studying Amharic Alphabets and later when he got stronger joined for basic education and proved to be successful in reading the whole lot in a short time. He failed down several times in this regard. There was nothing Painter Yosef regreted for in life despite he passed through many ups and downs. He knows how to cope with the challenges of life despite its enormity.

Whenever Yosef saw his friends drawing pictures, he did the same almost immediately. Surprisingly, he was painting by means of his legs. Everyone was amazed by his talent. He was also excellent at bouncing a ball more than a normal kid did. Inch by inch, he started drawing different alphabets in different shapes and forms. Moreover, he started expressing his innermost feelings through his pictures. His works gradually began attracting the attention of many people.

As he was a helpful person, children were troubling him to draw various pictures essentially during religious holidays. Whoever asked him to draw pictures; he did not rub his eyes for a moment or so. Some children were sharing money from the income they got putting up for sale pictures for the Ethiopian New Year. He did not sit binding his hands and legs. He kept on drawing pictures every so often.

One evening, something that he did not expect came to pass. When a certain idea came into his mind, he came into a decision to make an effort to capture images like the environmental milieu. This time, he troubled his sister to bring a paper and pencil. But nobody was in the position to lend him ears. He did not get angry over a little thing. In due course, his sister unhappily brought the paper and pencil and put them on a table. Yosef soon made an effort to get the pencil and paper down from the table on the floor. But all his efforts did not bear fruit. Desperate but determined, he kept on trying drawing pictures using his mouth. He kept on practicing time and again. He gradually made the unthinkable art of drawing thinkable.

Once upon a time, while he was tuned to a radio a story of a handicapped woman abroad, he was attracted by the whole story of her particularly on how she managed to pass through different ups and downs to achieve worldwide fame. From that day onwards, the idea of learning about painting kept on coming in and out of his mind. Then, he began hunting for fine arts school where he could broaden the knowledge of his horizon. Finally, he headed to Abyssinia Fine Arts and Vocational Training Center.

When Yosef went there, he bumped into Painter Girma Agegnew. The owner of the training center was not at home at that moment. Yosef told him the whole thing in black and white on the subject of his dream. After Grima extended his appreciation following Yosef's effort, he told him to bring his grade eight and ten exam results. But he did not have any educational document. He did not answer back except looking down.

As it happened, the owner of the Abyssinia Fine Arts and Vocational Training Center, Genet Kebede put a special criteria. She said, "

"For a time being you can learn in our center. As you do not have educational documents, you will not be given a chance to be graduated. But you can take all the courses."

As Yosef's interest was gaining painting skills, he did not care a fig about the graduation. He was dreaming of making his dream come true.

His teacher was the famous painter Artist Worku,in a similar condition with him. The teacher was showering him with pieces of advice now and again. He was spuring him with inspirational advices. But the challenges of keeping up with the phase of the normal ones were not that easy. After seven months of training, he focused on with drawing pictures using pencils and papers. His pictures attracted the attention of many in a little while.

There were challenges in the first phase of the paining as it demands rotating his neck clockwise and anticlock wise. The painting was done using pencils. Although he was advised to get himself directly engaged in painting, he turned a deaf ear. He refused and kept on time and again for he accepted as true that everyone is one and the same.

Having passed through many challenges, he managed to complete his studies. This time the school owner told him that he would not be graduated with his batches as he did not have educational documents. He did not feel irk as he had already got what he needed. The other day, she said, "Even though you do not have educational documents, you are better than others academically. Thus, you will be graduated." He turned out to be very happy following the good news. In the fullness of time, he joined the graduating batch.

After graduation, though Yosef wanted to be a full time painter there were challenges ahead of him. He was living under the same roof with his family in a small room. The house was inconvenient as painting by its very nature needs a quiet place. He did not know what he had to do. When he was at a loss what to do, he headed to the owner of Abyssinia Fine Arts and Vocational Training Center. He explained everything concerning the problem he was in. In due course, the owner gave him permission to do his paintings in the school. Hence, he kept on doing his paintings as he pleased.

He got spliced in marriage twenty years ago. His first wife was one of his age mates. She was madly in love with him. But her parents got mad when they realized that she was in love with a handicapped person. They did not want to see her with him for a fraction of a second. When the influence of the family got tougher, the lovers rented a house and started life together. He did not have a penny at that time to pay for the house rent. But he had placed confidence on his friends.

Kassanchise was everything for Yosef's life. He was making a living from the income he got from begging. He as well helped his family. His marriage soon got blessed with a daughter. However, out of the blue, his wife departed this life leaving a four month baby. It was a difficult time for him. He took care of the baby girl for three years on his own. He passed through different challenges in this regard. Later, he met by chance his second wife.

At the time when his first wife passed away, he was dining in a restaurant. For want of a hand, it was his friends who used to feed him. One fine day, he went to a restaurant as usual to have his lunch. He ordered for a dish, which was soon served. But nobody appeared to feed him. Waiting one of his friends to come, he simply sat down. He did not feel irritated as usual. He did not get disappointed. This time, touched by the situation the chef of the restaurant -a girl-- decided to feed Yosef. She even felt sympathy when she heard the news about his first wife who breathed her last leaving a baby.

After so many similar visits Yosphe paid to the restaurant she fell madly in love with him as humorous as he was. She did not want to distance herself from him. She always wanted to be with him. When all's said and done, she embarked on living under the same roof with him. They have got two children: a daughter and a son. They are leading a blissful marital life at this point in time. His wife always helps him from the income she gets as a cook. He has got three children. The first born is a student at Arbamich University, the second is a tenth grader and the third one is a KG student.


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