Sunday, June 10, 2012

Church Raises Nearly $16,000 To Send Body Of Ethiopian Teen Home

LARKSVILLE, Tenn. - It seemed an impossible task for a Clarksville church. They needed to raise nearly $16,000  to help get the body of a deaf teen, who drowned this week, back to his home country of Ethiopi a.

18-year-old Yafet Yoseph is remembered as an inspirational teen. He was a leader in national organizations for deaf and in is his mother's words, he was her 'whole world.'

Yafet was a football and track star at the Tennessee School for the Deaf with plans for college. One year from graduating, His mom, Meley Siltan, said Yafet's future was looking bright.

"He is amazing; he is amazing and amazing heart, he is a hard worker and nothing stop him from doing what he wants to do (sic)," said Siltan.

Church members at the Holy Protection of the Virgin Mary in Clarksville watched Yafet overcome the challenge of being an Ethiopian immigrant and a deaf teen.


"It wasn't a disability to him. He would make you understand what he was saying. He had no problem hugging anybody," recalled friend and church member, George Parhas.

But Yafet's bright future turned dark last Tuesday when he went missing in rough waters off the Florida coast while swimming with friends. Rescue crews found his body 24 hours later.

"My son is my world. I am empty without him, I am," said his mother.

Her last wish for her son is that he's buried alongside her mother in Ethiopia.

"I know she loves him so much, and I want him to lay next to my mom," she said.

"We made it clear that you wouldn't be able to visit him here, and she said my mother would be watching over him," recalled Parhas.

But burying Yafet in Ethiopia will cost $16,000,  a tall task for a small church that struggles to raise $50 a week. Yet somehow in the past four days they reached that impossible goal.

"It's an impossible sum, so it's a miracle basically," said Parhas.

"I have no words how to thank you and without them I wouldn't be doing anything, I am powerless," said Siltan.

The church even covered travel expenses for Meley Siltan. Any extra money that was donated will go to the Tennessee School for the Deaf.

Yasef Yoseph's funeral is scheduled for Monday morning at the Holy Protection Church in Clarksville. He will then be buried in Ethiopia.