College president adopts Ethiopian orphans

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Helping those in need is more than an abstract idea at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, where student idealism has rubbed off on the college president, Steven Timmermans, and his wife, Barbara Timmermans. The Timmermanses adopted two Ethiopian orphans. Getenet, 16, and Fekadu, 12, who became part of their family in early September.

"Being on a college campus, young people today really inspire me to go further, think more deeply than perhaps I would normally," said Steven Timmermans, a psychologist and educator who has been president of Trinity since 2003. His wife teaches nursing at the college.The couple have four grown children, including one son, Paul Timmermans, 24, who has Down syndrome and lives at home. Because the parents were "still doing the family years," the school president said, they decided two more kids e4.

The adopted boys had been living with a sister and attending a school and church through Yezelalem Minch orphanage in Addis Ababa. They miss their sister, the boys said recently, but are glad they can talk to her weekly by phone. Had they stayed with her, they would have aged out of the orphanage system in their late teens and faced an uncertain future.

"Yezelalem Minch" means "never-ending spring," in Amharic, an Ethiopian dialect. The orphanage serves children whose parents have died of
AIDS. By all accounts, the two teens are thriving in their new home. They adore bicycling with their new parents and playing soccer. Getenet is on the soccer team at Chicago Christian High School, and Fekadu, who attends Oak Lawn Christian School, practices soccer on a campus field near their home.
Although the boys are far from their native home, Trinity has many international students, a number of visiting lecturers who speak on global issues, and students who volunteer for Habitat for Humanity overseas and raise money and awareness about AIDS, said Steven Timmermans. The school also emphasizes diversity through its various clubs and lectures.

"Despite this being suburban Chicago, we have an international community right here on campus," said Steven Timmermans. But the teens have faced some major adjustments: discovering new foods, improving their English, and learning a different calendar year and time zone. "For them, the only thing that's stayed the same is each other," said Barbara Timmermans.

The boys have an upbeat and appreciative nature, said Bob Ippel, a family friend who, with his wife, Mary, hosted a summer camp at the orphanage in 2002, which the boys attended. The couple have an adopted son and daughter from the same orphanage."Getenet was very warm and interested, he wanted to try out his English, he loved music and soccer," said Bob Ippel. When the Ippels returned to the orphanage in 2009, they were surprised to find the two brothers still there and told the Timmermans they needed a home.

"When we left, Getenet was crying, 'Please find me a family, find me a family,'" recalled Bob Ippel

Source (Chicago Tribuine)

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