Through a convoluted line of connections, I was able to find someone living in Denver who is from the village Sidamo was born in, in the Kembata-Tembaro zone of Ethiopia. Sidamo, Nora, and I met with him and a mutual Ethiopian friend who is from the Kaffa region this evening, and it was wonderful. I brought Sidamo's lifebook video so Sidamo's "neighbor" could translate some things for us, and we talked in general about life in Ethiopia and specifically in the area that Sidamo comes from.
The men were charmed by Sidamo—in a way that most people aren't. And that's saying something, since everyone is charmed by Sidamo. But their eyes lit, their hearts warmed, their gestures softened in a way that made it clear they saw something familiar (in the "family" meaning of the word) in him. And he was at ease, immediately, in a way he sometimes isn't.
I feel so fortunate to be able to make these connections for our family. It's so important—obviously to Sidamo, but also to the rest of us—to maintain the connection to his country, his heritage, and, if not his actual Ethiopian family, at least people with a shared history who have that feeling of family.