Immediately upon hearing of the Shamma family's plight, Jewish Agency representatives in Ethiopia expedited the aliyah process for Lejallem and his father, Addis. Within days, father and son were on a flight to the Holy Land, and from the airport, they were transported directly to Soroka Medical Center of the Negev.
Doctors at Soroka successfully implanted a shunt to divert the excess fluid from Lejallem's head to his abdomen, where it can be safely absorbed. He was under daily medical care for over a year.
Since his life-saving surgery, his mother, Yissaro, and three older brothers have also made aliyah. Their social worker, Merav Marciano-Levy, remembers that in contrast to other families who say that their goals for living in Israel include finding a job and buying a house, the Shammas said only "we want Lejallem to be out of danger."
Today, at four and a half, Lejallem plays happily with other children at a cheerful kindergarten in Be'er Sheva. Save for the markedly large size of his head, he is a normal child.
Marciano-Levy is amazed by Lejallem's physical and psychosocial recovery. "At the beginning he was scrunched all the time, afraid of us, or on his mother's back," she remembers. "He started to walk, to run, to speak Hebrew. He tells us jokes and makes us pictures of what he does in kindergarten. He has friends. He is one of those kids who touch your heart. He's so cute, he smiles all the time and has little glasses. He comes into my office for candy."
"We didn't think this child would live," Mr. Shamma said. "The Jewish Agency saved his life. They brought us and took care of us, and the boy is doing much better. Lejallem belongs to the Jewish Agency now. He is their child as much as mine, for saving his life."
Mrs. Shamma noted with a smile that Lejallem is doing so much better, National Insurance is giving them problems over paying for his care. But she acknowledged that "this is a good problem to have."
"What the Jewish Agency and the doctors did for Lejallem is a dream," Mr. Shamma said. "The fact that he is in school . . . who ever would have thought it would happen? Our relatives sometimes forget that we have four sons, because they counted him for dead. So I made him talk to them on the phone. They were surprised, but now they believe it."
The Shammas have recently bought an apartment in Bat Yam and were planning to leave their cozy 3-room residence at the Nurit Absorption Center in January. Moshe Bahatta, manager of Nurit and himself an oleh from Ethiopia, said he will greatly miss Lejallem's presence, but would not be surprised if he becomes prime minister one day. "There is no question," he said. "That little boy will go far in life. He is destined for great things."