A year ago, he was still sitting in an orphanage in Addis Ababa, one of five million Ethiopian orphans and vulnerable children. To be honest, sitting is probably the wrong word. For as the one-line description of Matiwos in his adoption portfolio read, "Lives to play, not to sit."
Before Addis Ababa, Matiwos was in another orphanage, this one among his Sidama people in the Southern Nations section nearer to Kenya. The level of malnutrition, disease and lack of clean drinking water there is not some story for a television infomercial. It is a reality. And for the waiting children of Ethiopia, especially the older boys, another reality is they are rarely adopted.
Yet here was Matiwos Rumley sitting the other day among his robust, loving family in a double-wing colonial in Hebron, fidgeting with mmu iPhone, laughing and trading words in sturdy English with his brother and sisters. Perhaps even more remarkably, Matiwos Rumley, 7, will be on a flight to Atlanta on Friday — cast on his right thumb — with his dad, Mark, and brother Luke to compete in the NFL Pass, Punt & Kick National Finals.
In October, Matiwos won the sectionals in Hebron and the state title of the 6-7 division in Berlin. He went to Gillette Stadium before the Patriots' game against the Bills on Nov. 11, beat the other New England state champs, and during a timeout in the second quarter, accepted his trophy from Andre Tippett in front of 68,756 fans.