Among hundreds of excited cadets at an officer training course graduation ceremony on Wednesday stood one soldier who felt that his presence there was a victory against all odds. Worku Abiy, 23, a lone soldier and orphan from Ethiopia who arrived in Israel at the age of 15, never imagined he would one day wear an IDF uniform.
“If someone would have told me a decade ago, when I was a lonely orphan in Ethiopia, that I would stand here one day with this uniform and these ranks, I would not believe it,” says Abiy.
Worku Abiy from Ethiopia in his IDF uniform. (Photo: IDF Spokesman’s Unit)
Abiy underwent a long journey to get to where he is today. When he was 3 years-old, his mother died and he lived with his father until the age of 14 – when his father passed away too. Without any parents, Abiy wandered between the houses of various distant family members until 2007. At the time, Abiy was living with his cousin and his family who decided that they were moving to Israel and took Abiy with them.
When they arrived in Israel, Abiy and his relatives were transferred to an absorption center in Afula in northern Israel. Two years later, when Abiy’s relatives left the absorption center, Abiy began to study at the Yemin Orde boarding school near Zikhron Ya’akov.
In August of 2013, Abiy decided he would volunteer to join the IDF after he was not drafted due to medical issues. He was assigned to serve in the Center of Computing and Information Systems, as part of a special track for Ethiopian immigrants, and served as a branch manager. Agiy completed his basic training with exceptional scores.
“For me, (IDF) service is an honor. After all that I went through, I know that (Israel) was there for me and I want to give back all that I can,” says Abiy.
Abiy took part in Operation Brother’s Keeper and Operation Protective Edge and later decided to fulfill his dream of completing an officer’s course.
“It’s important for me to make an impact and give back from my experience of how to cope and succeed and show that if you want it – everything is possible,” says Abiy.
Abiy’s journey to Israel was featured in an American documentary entitled “Take Us Home.”