Ethiopian student thankful for 'family'

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)--Back home in the Entoto Mountains of eastern Africa, the worst weather Mikias Mohammed ever had to deal with was a thunderstorm.

"I have never experienced anything like this," Mohammed said after the EF-4 tornado that struck Union University's campus Feb. 5.

Mohammed, a freshman computer science major from Ethiopia, had returned to his room Tuesday evening after playing racquetball with a friend. Instead of taking a shower immediately, however, Mohammed decided to stretch out on his bed for a moment and look over his homework.

"The guys ... were watching TV, cooking food and taking a shower," Mohammed recounted. "All of a sudden the lights got crazy. Lights went off, came back on and went off again. Then came this noise. I thought it was a train. After that I couldn't hear anything. The windows shattered and the wind smashed me against the wall. Everything just started to fall down."

After the storm, Mohammed clawed his way out of the rubble and walked barefoot across the living room to open the bathroom door. Nine students were huddled together there, covered in blood and surrounded by water gushing from broken pipes.

As he looks at the jumble of bricks and metal that once was his room, Mohammed thanks God for protection -- not only for himself, but for all his American "family" in Jackson, Tenn., where Union is located.

Mohammed left campus that evening, taking shelter with friends and church family, without his passport and international documents, textbooks, laptop computer or other personal belongings. Unlike most Union students, he won't be able to return home temporarily but will rely on the kindness of those in Jackson extending a helping hand to Union's students.

"Everything is gone, but I am thankful we all made it and no one died," Mohammed said.


Alison Ball is a journalism student at Union University.

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