The first time Abezash Tamerat returned to her native Ethiopia, she walked out of the airport terminal’s sliding doors only to turn around and walk right back in, briefly overwhelmed by the press of beggars and taxi drivers clamoring outside.
Tamerat had left Ethiopia as a child and grown up in foster care in Georgia. Now she was going back as a 20-year-old to rediscover the far-off, unfamiliar place that had shaped her identity.
She arrived with about $40, trusting in a credit card in a country that even then, in 2003, had no ATMs. A week later, she was back at the airport trying unsuccessfully to change her ticket and get an early flight home to Atlanta.