This evening K and I went with our friends to a candlelight vigil
and remembrance for 13-year-old Hana Grace-Rose Williams. Hana, born in
Ethiopia, was adopted into a Sedro-Woolley home in Aug. 2008, along with her
younger brother. She was found dead in her yard on May 12th this
year, with the coroner concluding she died of hypothermia in the approx. 40
degree rainy weather. At the time of her death, sources said she had significant
weight-loss. Child Protective Services (CPS) has taken custody of the other 8
Williams children. The case is currently with the Skagit county prosecutor’s
There are many questions that people, primarily the Ethiopian
community, are asking: why was Hana out in the yard, in the cold and rain? How
could a 13-year old child from an orphanage in Ethiopia lose significant weight?
Did no one notice anything odd about Hana’s situation before she died?
Mulu Retta, from the Ethiopian Community Mutual Association
(ECMA), Seattle, spoke at the vigil, as did David Guterson (author of “Snow
Falling on Ceders,” who has an adopted Ethiopian child himself). Guterson laid
out the known facts, and the unanswered questions about Hana’s death. To
paraphrase the speakers, it’s not clear if there was any wrong-doing, but if there
had been any wrong-doing, appropriate action needs to be taken, to protect the
other 8 children and to prevent anything like this happening again. A prayer
was said, three poems were read out (one in Amharic and two in English), someone
played “Amazing Grace”, and candles were lit. It was a somber night, with lots
of tears all around. One interesting thing was that no one at the meeting knew
Hana – but there was this shared grief and a commitment to improve matters.
I hope there is a full investigation into the reasons behind Hana’s untimely death. And I hope as a society we work together and do what we can to ensure that Hana’s death is
not in vain.
Rest in Peace, Hana.
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