The Road to Recovery

Nearly a week has passed since Aster emerged from her transformative surgery. As the postoperative pain recedes and Aster adjusts to her new “normal”, her progression is right on track. It has been a tough week, but Aster has persevered, Derebe always by her side.

Her exceptional journey has proven the adage, “it takes a village”. Aster’s village extends far beyond Keke, Ethiopia; the village of New York has truly embraced this inspiring girl and her father.




A dear and insightful friend remarked, “the word Aster comes from the ancient Greek, ἀστήρ, meaning “star”.


This star is brightly shining.







BEFORE, so very beautiful.


AFTER, so very beautiful.


Aster has emerged from anesthesia in the recovery room and is doing well.

Her surgery went PERFECTLY today.  She was in the operating room for about 7 hours and the tumor was completely removed by a team of three surgeons.

Derebe, her father, was supported by new friends all day as he waited anxiously.

“What does Derebe think?”

“He was speechless.  He is adjusting.  We were all blown away to see her post op.”

It’s difficult to imagine, isn’t it?

An enormous thank you to everyone who gave so freely of their time, their expertise and their hearts today and leading up to this momentous day.

Thanks to each and every one of you, reading this blog, for your good wishes and thoughtfulness.

TODAY is the celebration of the new year in Ethiopia.  This day stands for the end of the rainy season when everything becomes beautiful again:

“The big rains end and the sun comes out to shine all day long, creating an atmosphere of dazzling clarity and fresh clean air.  The highlands turn to gold as the Meskel daisies burst out in all their splendor.”

How apropos.


Stay tuned as Aster braves the challenges ahead.



Aster’s father, Derebe, anxiously awaits news of Aster’s surgery…






This is Aster. She is 13 years old. She is just like you and me. Except…

She and her father, Derebe, came to see us, the foreign doctors, hoping for treatment for the large growth on her neck. We told them we could not remove her tumor at the remote mountain top hospital in Ethiopia where we were working. Their eyes filled with tears.

That was in November 2010. It has been nearly three years, but thanks to the efforts of many, Aster will undergo surgery today, September 11, 2013 in NY. Many hands have moved Aster off of that mountain top.

The next time a child needs medical attention like this, let’s get help faster. fASTER!

Follow Aster’s journey here.


Aster was born with this benign tumor called a teratoma. In the US, a child born with this tumor would have it surgically removed by 6 months of age. Where Aster is from there is very little access to medical care and thus she lived with this growing mass her entire life.

She is loved and cherished by her family. But, she has never been able to attend school because of the stigma associated with her condition. She is shunned by her peers. Her life has been difficult.

Let’s change that.

This is Aster’s family in front of their home in the Sidama region of southern Ethiopia.


Aster and her father arrived in NYC on August 30. The Ethiopian community, along with individuals and the sponsoring organization, Little Baby Face Foundation, have taken them under their wings this past 10 days. They are doing well.



Aster has made many friends. Derebe is speaking some English. They are so appreciative of every little gesture.



Keep Aster and Derebe in your thoughts.