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Bezawit Abebe was born in Ethiopia and made aliyah to Israel in her 20s, becoming an Israeli citizen and dedicating herself to advocating for equality and empowerment of Ethiopian Jews. With help from Hebrew Free Loan, she is now studying for a doctoral degree in law at San Francisco’s Golden Gate University.

Beza plans to devote her career to advocating for immigrant women and children around the world who are struggling for basic political, economic, and human rights. She also volunteers at Be’chol Lashon, a local nonprofit that raises awareness about ethnic, racial, and cultural diversity in the Jewish community.

In addition to her studies and volunteer work, Beza fell in love since arriving in California, and she and her partner welcomed a child in January. Beza had been working two jobs to make ends meet: one as a research assistant and one in the university library. But those jobs were no longer available, once Golden Gate University closed its campus in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“My dream was to study law at Golden Gate University. Getting a student loan from Hebrew Free Loan made that possible. Now the pandemic is everyone’s crisis, not just mine, but I wasn’t sure how I’d make it through until I received their help.”

That’s when Beza turned again to Hebrew Free Loan. As an international student, she couldn’t work off-campus and wasn’t eligible for unemployment benefits. She had already used all her savings to pay for tuition. Her partner was still working, but his family in Eritrea depended on him to send money home every month. There simply wasn’t enough to take care of themselves and their son.

Beza received a Coronavirus Impact loan to cover her lost wages, so she can make it through the summer until campus reopens and she can start working again. In the meantime, she’s caring for her son and working on her dissertation on international law and the forced displacement of populations around the world.

Beza’s mother had planned to come from Ethiopia for the baby’s birth, but the U.S. government denied her tourist visa. Now, because of the pandemic, Beza doesn’t know when her mother will be able to meet her grandchild, because it’s not safe for Beza and the baby to travel to Ethiopia. Although it’s difficult to be so far from her family, Beza is grateful for the community support she’s received through Hebrew Free Loan, which has helped her in a difficult time, just like family would.