Friday, January 11, 2013

Technology Makes Life a Little Easier for Homeless and Deaf Ethiopian Immigrant

(Jan 11, 2013, New York)--Some of the problems Abreham Zemedagegehu faces as a homeless person in New York, like cold weather and lack of sleep, are fairly predictable. Some are less so: the police have gotten angry with Mr. Zemedagegehu because they did not realize that he could not hear their instructions. He was born with no hearing in one ear and only a little in the other.

Abreham Zemedagegehu uses his new iPad to send e-mail and to have video chats with the use of a sign-language interpreter. (Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times)
And then there are the passers-by who see the face of God in his. “They say I look like Jesus,” said Mr. Zemedagegehu, 39, of the strangers who often take his picture, capturing an image of a tall man with straight, dark hair hanging down beyond his long face, strikingly covered by a full beard and mustache. “They should ask me permission first.” 

The comparison is especially unnerving, even frightening, for a man as devout as Mr. Zemedagegehu. Far from his family in Ethiopia and his friends in Washington, where he lived before moving to New York City a few years ago, Mr. Zemedagegehu finds companionship in God. 

His sanctuary is as mobile as he is: he wears a large cross typical of his Ethiopian Orthodox faith underneath his donated North Face gear and prays over bottled water to make it holy before drinking it. “The bravest thing I can do in the city is pray and read my Bible a lot,” Mr. Zemedagegehu said. Read more from The New York Times »

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