Hana’s Fund, Hana’s Grave Marker

Update: Here is the final paragraph of Kathryn Joyce’s Slate.com article (November 11, 2013) about Hana and other Ethiopian adoptees:

“After the Williamses’ sentencing, the Ethiopian community center had hoped to install a headstone for Hana where only a temporary marker had been. But in October, community members, who had spent months following the trial and years grappling with what had gone wrong, learned that they couldn’t. Two years after Hana’s death, the Williamses’ extended family suddenly ordered a headstone themselves. The birthdate on the stone, the local funeral home told me, will read 1994—three years earlier than the year listed on Hana’s death certificate. As the Williamses head into appeal, the engraving is an attempt to posthumously change Hana’s age from 13 to 16, just as the Williamses’ defense attorneys had argued in seeking to invalidate the trial’s most serious charge, to cast Hana not as a youthful victim but a troubled older teen. If only on a symbolic level, it gives the parents who abused, shunned, and ultimately killed Hana the last word on her life.”

The sorrow continues.

Among those most devastated by the tragedy of Hana Alemu’s death were members of the Ethiopian community in Washington state. (For posts about Hana, her life and death, the trial of her adoptive parents Larry and Carri Williams, please feel free to search my blog. The most recent post is here.) Members of the Ethiopian Community Center in Seattle established a fund in Hana’s honor, drove in a van to attend the trial as often as possible, went to her grave to sing and pray, and have reached out to adoptive families to ensure that what happened to Hana would never happen again to an Ethiopian adoptee.

Here’s information from the ECS website about Hana’s Fund:

The Ethiopian Community Mutual Association (ECMA) of Greater Puget Sound now announces the advent of its Hana Fund.  The purpose of the fund is prevent cases of abuse and assault in adoptive families via a program of outreach and crisis intervention, and via cultural awareness, education and counseling.

Costs associated with ECMA’s Hana Program will include:

  • legal research
  • compiling a data base of adoptive children in its service area
  • establishing and maintaining a hotline
  • fees and expenses for social workers and counselors
  • establishing and maintaining cultural programming
  • website and social media presence
  • production of educational materials
  • outreach

If you would like to contribute to the Hana Fund, write a check to “ECMA Hana Fund” and send it to ECMA, 8323 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle, WA  98118, or visit ecseattle.org, click on DONATE NOW, and make your donation with a credit card via PayPal.

Like many others, the members of the Ethiopian Community Center have been concerned by the lack of a marker or stone on Hana’s grave site in Sedro-Woolley cemetery. From what I understand, the grave is owned by either Larry or Carri’s parents, who have not (for whatever reasons), in the more than two years since Hana died (May 12, 2011) put up a marker beyond one that is flat on the ground, with a photocopy of Hana’s name and dates of birth and death.

Marker at Hana's grave

Marker at Hana’s grave

There are still unresolved legal issues around whether there can be a marker placed on the grave site by people who do not own the grave site. My understanding is that folks with the Ethiopian Community Center are working on this.

Another possibility is that there will be a memorial of some sort, perhaps at the ECS in Seattle, or elsewhere.

The Ethiopian Community has worked hard and thoughtfully on the grave site marker, and are hopeful that it will be possible to place one in the Sedro-Woolley cemetery. Here’s the design they have created:


I think it’s lovely. The Amharic written on it means “We love you.”

There have been questions about including the last name Williams on the grave marker, and some folks would like the name to be eliminated, or set in quotes or parentheses. The consensus was, though, that Hana Williams was her legal name, and that people searching for her would likely use that name. We want people to be able to find and remember her easily.

Information is available on the Facebook page, In Remembrance of Hanna.

5 thoughts on “Hana’s Fund, Hana’s Grave Marker

  1. Pingback: After the Sentencing: Larry and Carri Williams, the Adoption Agency, the Children | Light of Day Stories

    • Hmm. I just clicked on “Donate” on the Ethiopian Community Center website and made a donation to Hana’s Fund using PayPal and had no trouble at all. Again, I’m sorry you had trouble.

  2. I want to make a donation, but the website is very difficult–requires you sign up and provide emergency contact information and then when I finally added everything, it would not let me log in. If they want donations, they really need to make the website accessible.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that. You’re right, and that’s frustrating. Unfortunately they have a very small staff and some things fall through the cracks. I’ll send them a message about it.

      You do have the option of mailing a check or money order, though I know that’s a pain. Thanks for the effort.

      I’ll see what I can find out and post an update.

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