by ChildFund Ethiopia
Five years ago, Selfnesh lived in a one-room house with her family about 65 miles outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. That single room served many purposes — kitchen, bedroom, living space and covered shelter for the family’s cattle.
Like many others in the Sodo Buee Child and Family Development Association, with whom ChildFund partners, Selfnesh’s family are subsistence farmers. On their small parcel of land, they grow false banana trees, which provide the family’s main source of food. The false banana is a common source of nourishment for this area, and community members prepare bread and porridge from the root part of the tree. Because this meager farming is not enough for Selfnesh’s family’s basic needs, her father has sometimes found work as a guard, earning 400 birr, or about $23.50, a month.
But life changed for Selfnesh five years ago when her family learned about ChildFund and enrolled Selfnesh in community programs. Before long, Selfnesh had a sponsor.
Now 12, Selfnesh is attending school and making new discoveries every day. Even better, she gets to share these learning experiences with her elder sister, Meselu, who got the opportunity to attend school for the first time when Selfnesh became enrolled — ChildFund programs benefit the entire family.
And with extra financial support from Selfnesh’s sponsor, the family has built a sheet metal house. “Now I can say we have a house, which is built from better materials, and has three rooms: bedroom, kitchen and living room,” exclaims Selfnesh. “Now we are not in the same room with our livestock.”
ChildFund also provided the family with an ox, two cows and an expectant goat. “Now we also drink milk and sell some to get income out of it,” Selfnesh says. “Our goats are multiplied from one to three,” she adds gleefully.
Selfnesh also has something else she’s happy about — a nest egg. Using some of the money sent by her sponsor for special occasions through the years, Selfnesh opened a savings account, and proudly reports a tidy sum. She plans to use the money only when she and her family have an urgent need. She adds: “Thanks to my sponsor and ChildFund — who made us different today.”
by Manal Durri, ChildFund Ethiopia Child Protection and Gender Coordinator
Sarah Bouchie, ChildFund’s new vice president of Program Development, spent her second week on the job visiting two projects for children in Ethiopia. Our staff in Ethiopia caught up with Sarah as she prepared to return to the U.S., where she will be based in ChildFund’s Washington, D.C., office.
Would you please tell us your opinion on the interventions you have seen in our urban and rural areas?
I was very impressed with the dedication of the staff in both sites. The work that has gone into building local affiliates to carry out ChildFund’s work is admirable. Staff and board members in the CBOs [community-based organizations] could articulate clearly what they were trying to achieve and the activities they have undertaken to make them happen. It appeared as if careful consideration had been given to how we collaborate with local governments as well.
It was also nice to see how spaces for children had been created in schools and ECD [early childhood development] centers in both sites. I was pleased to hear community members, board members and staff talk about their efforts to address child-protection issues, and it is clear that there are compelling stories about how ChildFund’s support has changed the lives of individuals in both sites.
Have you observed anything unique in our interventions from what you have experienced before?
A couple of things struck me as unique results, or ways of working, that ChildFund has in the two sites I visited.
In the community that we visited in Boset, the pass rate of students — and of girls in particular — was very impressive. It sounds like the school is doing some things very well that might deserve a good look.
I also heard that communities were changing practice around harmful traditional practices. It might be worthwhile to dig into this deeper and find out how deep this perception translates to people’s daily practice and to try to identify some of the things that make the approach so successful. For sure, I was pleased to see that both sites had worked to ensure that referrals to government systems for child protection were in place.
Finally, I think that ChildFund might be in a unique position to be able to advocate about the most cost-effective way to provide services for OVC [orphans and vulnerable children]. Through the sponsorship program, focused on vulnerable children using the DEV framework [deprived, excluded and vulnerable children], and through SCSN [Strengthening Community Safety Nets], ChildFund has experimented with two very different models of delivering support to children in greatest need. With some investigation, we might be able to help shape policies about how to best deliver support to these children in the most cost-effective way. If we can track some of the children who participated in both programs over time, we could help to determine if higher cost per child programming gives deeper, more lasting benefits to communities and children in the long run.
In addition to positive things you saw, could you address any areas for improvement that you may have observed?
Some of the things that I think the national office seems to be doing well include community mobilization, working with CBOs and capacity building, improving educational outcomes, creating child-friendly spaces and networking to referral systems for child protection cases.
Some things to keep working on might be around analyzing high-cost and low- cost models of programming to reach OVC; conducting staff reflections about gender and harmful traditional practices — particularly with CBO staff; and thinking about some common protocols that we might use in communities to ensure we model the behavior we seek in others around upholding children’s rights and dignity in everything we do.
As the Vice President of Program Development, what will be your focus and how will you support national offices like Ethiopia in your new position?
I play many roles in ChildFund. In my role on the executive team, I have a responsibility to ensure that resources are allocated in the most efficient and effective way possible to ensure better outcomes for children. To do that effectively, I need and want input about what we can do to make our operations more efficient and our programs more impactful.
I hope that in my position as the head of the program development team, I can help to facilitate a culture of learning in the organization that contributes to those ends. I think my team and I exist to help the organization learn from what it has done well (and not so well), and share that across the development community. We also help raise resources that facilitate innovation and high standards for our work globally.
I look forward to working with national offices to see how we can do this most effectively, and how my team and I can help bring voice to the lessons that are being learned around the ChildFund world.
Guest post by Berhane, an Ethiopian mother
Before ChildFund gave us training about the importance and the necessity of backyard gardening, I didn’t know how to do or understand the benefit.
Today my family and I are not only enjoying our garden but we are even making a profit from the product we raise.
There is a big demand for the vegetables. The prices increased. Therefore, we all make sure the garden is kept well and taken care to give the products.
We are eating different vegetables according to the seasons and our diet has improved. The income from these products supports us to buy school materials for the children.
All photos by Jake Lyell Photography.
Reporting by Tenagne Mekonnen, Africa Regional Communications Manager
The Day of the African Child, marked each year on June 16, stems from the brutality and cruelty inflicted on children in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976 during apartheid.
Thousands of black schoolchildren went to the street to protest the inferior quality of their education and to demand their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young boys and girls were shot down, and in the two weeks of protest that followed, more than 100 were killed and more than 1,000 injured.
Each year, schoolchildren across Africa honor the memory of those killed and the courage of all who marched. This year, children in ChildFund’s Ethiopian programs share a song and their artwork to commemorate the day.
by Meseret, 13, and Jerusalem, 12
Listen now, listen now
We children we know
We deserve the love of mothers and fathers
We need to be free of child abusers
We know, we know
Child abuse is not right
We have education right
Parents and communities
We children have rights
We are tomorrow’s doctors and leaders
Be gender sensitive
Beating and insult is not good for us
Advise us and guide and grow us
To help us be good citizens
Yabsra, 14, Grade 8
On my art, I have tried to show a child who has opportunity to go to school and another street child who is crying there. At the same time, I tried to show the student who went to school greeted the [street child] and another child, being carried by his mom, waved his hand to this boy. There is also a teacher who is calling the street boy to join the school. The message I want to pass on is that everybody, regardless of age, should give love and respect to children and take care of them. I have tried to teach the community to support orphaned and street children as they are their own.
Kuribachew, 12, Grade 6
I have tried to express my feeling on my art. We need to take care of orphan children. I tried to show how children receive educational materials and uniforms for their school needs. This is to teach the community to continue their support.
by Selamawit Yilma, Communications Officer, ChildFund Ethiopia
Un Enfant par la Main, based in France, is a member of the ChildFund Alliance. The 12-member global organization, which includes ChildFund International, provides assistance to children in 59 countries. Chairman of the Board Pierre Jablon recently led a sponsor visit to Ethiopia.
ChildFund Ethiopia: Would you please tell us a little about your organization?
Pierre Jablon: Un Enfant par la Main is a member of ChildFund Alliance and is based in France. The name Un Enfant par la Main refers to the linkage between the mother and child, and it has an English translation of “holding a child’s hand.” Established in 1990, the organization is involved in about 15 countries including Ethiopia. Ethiopia is the third [largest] country with regard to the number of sponsored children we have, next to Mali and Senegal.
ChildFund Ethiopia: What is your impression of Ethiopia in general?
Jablon: I am impressed very much by the people I see on the street and have met on our field visits. The people are so kind, smiling. They also have sense of dedication to welcome others.
ChildFund Ethiopia: What is the purpose of organizing the group of sponsors from France to visit Ethiopia?
Jablon: The first objective was to better understand what ChildFund Ethiopia is doing and how you are organized — to learn more about the system of sponsorship and financing and to know what challenges you are facing. The second objective was to be a witness to the event while sponsors meet their children and share their feeling.
ChildFund Ethiopia: Did anything strike you differently than you expected?
Jablon: I was not completely aware of the development of the association and the system used to organize the communities, which encourages them to take over the responsibility and be engaged more in the community work. Other countries also work closely with the community, but the system I noticed here is very impressive.
ChildFund Ethiopia: What was the feeling of the sponsors while they visited their sponsored children and learned about some of the interventions of our partners? Was it interesting for them?
Jablon: It was an important moment in their lives. For most of them, it was their first time to meet their sponsored children so it was a very significant event for them. They were very happy, emotional and positive. We would like to organize similar visits at least once a year but one of our barriers to sending sponsors to Ethiopia was the language problem. Most of our sponsors speak only French so they need a translator. But this time, they were happy because they were able to converse with their children and their families with the help of the team and the translator.
ChildFund Ethiopia: Is there any other expectation from the sponsors that we need to improve more in the future?
Jablon: Some of the concerns mentioned by the sponsors were to receive pictures of their sponsored children more frequently to see their physical change and growth. It is also important to have up-to-date information of the children as well as news flashes on what activities are successful for the children, families and community. Strengthening communication is important to all sponsors, and most sponsors had positive feedback on ChildFund’s sponsor activities.
ChildFund Ethiopia: Un Enfant par la Main delegated you to lead the team to visit ChildFund Ethiopia. Can you share with us a few thoughts on how your board members, and you as a chairman, are actively involved in supporting the organization and what motivates you to work on behalf of children?
Jablon: Let me start with myself. I joined Un Enfant par la Main in 2006. Before I came to this organization, I used to work with UNICEF France. I was involved in many similar activities there, like talking with children in school and doing promotional and communication work. However, I was looking for an organization that has international collaboration and is smaller in size, enabling me to understand how the donated resources reach the children and to see the impact at the individual level. I found all this in Un Enfant par la Main. The important moment for me is being here, and in other countries, is to meet ChildFund staff, introduce our organization and meet children supported through Un Enfant par la Main. Though we are small organization, we want to be closest with our partners.
Regarding to the board activity, most of them are very active and have different responsibilities such as fundraising, coordination of regional volunteer workers and raising the profile of Un Enfant par la Main through various meetings and other opportunities.
ChildFund Ethiopia: Currently Un Enfant par la Main has about 450 sponsored children in Ethiopia. Is there any plan to increase this number or enhance the partnership between Un Enfant par la Main and ChildFund Ethiopia to help children in Ethiopia?
Jablon: I have discussed this issue with the national director and agreed that if there is room to increase the number of sponsored children, we would like to do that. In addition, we would like to strengthen our partnership by starting micro projects in communities where Un Enfant par la Main sponsored children live. As I observed from my visit, micro–enterprise opportunities exist and have a positive impact of increasing family income.
ChildFund Ethiopia: Do you want to add any more?
Jablon: I would like to thank the team from ChildFund Ethiopia. It was a really fantastic welcome and excellent cooperation. I hope we could also do more to inform and motivate the sponsors from France. In the future, we may also prepare another trip since this trip has been so successful.
by Wondwosen Hailu
Biruk had to supplement his needs by scavenging in Addis Ababa’s biggest garbage dumping site, located few hundred meters from his home. He was on the verge of dropping out of school.
New hope came to him through a local NGO called HAPCSO (Hiwot HIV/AIDS Prevention Care & Support Organization), which receives funding and technical support from ChildFund Ethiopia to assist orphans and vulnerable children impacted by HIV/AIDs. HAPCSO awarded Biruk a full scholarship, which enabled him to afford school materials and fees, and made him eligible for a dry food ration and a cash allowance of $100 birr per month.
His social life also took a new path when he joined the Scout Club, which he currently leads. The Scout Club provides children with life skills, counseling support and recreational activities. Club members play games and perform music and drama. They also learn skills needed to become successful team players. The club, which has 110 regular and 300 associate members from Kolfe Keranyo sub city in Addis Ababa, regularly conducts life skills and health training for children.
Through their performances, children and youth educate members of their community on the negative effects of stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS and promotes desirable behaviors. As a result of their activities, 70 iddirs (a form of indigenous social insurance for help members during bereavement) revised their bylaws to include an article on providing care and support to vulnerable children.
The Scout Club has been instrumental in turning Biruk’s life around. He continues to amaze the school community with his extraordinary work. For the last three years, he has been the top scorer in his class.
Biruk, who escaped a life of garbage scavenging, aspires to become a medical doctor. He wishes to save lives of Ethiopians who suffer from diseases.
Editor’s note: Today we launch an occasional blog series by children and youth enrolled in ChildFund programs around the world. When we listen to children, we find they have so much to tell us. Their voices shape our work.
by Yabetse, age 11, Ethiopia
My drawing explains how a girl is being forced to get married early by her father. Not only is she getting married early, but she is also getting married to someone she doesn’t even know. Most of the time there is a big age gap.
The girl is crying because she wants to continue her school and she is too young to be married. But her father is forcing her to be happy because he supports the marriage. The girl’s mother is not happy for her daughter’s early marriage, but she can’t say much as the head of the house is the father and he decides.
In the boy’s family, the father is not happy that his son is getting married, forcing someone into his life without her will. But the son is not paying attention to the father’s advice and guidance. His mom is happy that her son is getting married.
My drawing shows how our parents [don’t see] the danger in early marriage. They are not paying attention to the problem which will come with it — their children will be forced to stop school and be forced to take big responsibility which they can’t handle.
I want to educate the community and society through my drawing that children shouldn’t be forced into early marriage before they are mentally and physically ready, and finishing education. Our dreams and hope will be shattered because of early marriage.
Reporting by ChildFund Ethiopia
As Yewubnesh finished the afternoon milking, she paused for a moment. Was it really more than two years ago that her husband Balcha had died? That had been a difficult time for her and the children. She recalled wondering how they would survive.
In the Ethiopian village of Buee, ChildFund has helped establish and train village committees to identify and help families and individuals in need in their community. At a committee’s recommendation Yewubnesh was put forward for a livelihood sponsorship, and two years ago this sponsorship arrived for the family in the form of a cow.
In Buee a month’s supply of milk — a liter of milk a day — costs approximately US$12. The cow is now producing more than 10 liters of milk each day, so Yewubnesh’s income has substantially increased.
Yewubnesh has five children with dreams of completing higher education. In Ethiopia, advanced education is made possible by the government if families can afford books, fees and the cost of living away from home at college or university.
The family’s milk cow, which last year gave birth to a calf — a heifer — has provided the necessary income for Yewubnesh to support her children in their educational pursuits.
Daughter Emebet, 20, is studying administration at a university in Addis Ababa; Alemu, 18, is now at Dila University studying economics; and son Zeneba, 17, who also has a ChildFund sponsor, is studying horticulture at Walito.
Yewubnesh’s third son Simi, 15, attends Butajira technical college, where he is studying horticulture. Her youngest son Abush, 12, attends Buee primary school.
The cow will have another calf soon, as will the heifer. So the family’s herd is steadily growing. ChildFund has provided veterinary support in the form of artificial insemination and medicines as needed for the cows.
As for her part, Yewubnesh spends considerable time collecting forage for the two animals. Additional feed for her prized cows costs about US$20 each year. Yet, she goes about the morning and evening milking with the comforting knowledge that the family’s income is secure and her children’s futures now look brighter than she thought possible just a few short years ago.
by Demissie Belete, ChildFund Ethiopia
I truly don’t know what my life would have been if it was not for ChildFund and my sponsor. I am who I am today because of ChildFund’s care, protection and provision.
Who I was before ChildFund. The life of myself and my family changed drastically when my father passed away, leaving my siblings and me without a father at a very young age. My father was the family’s only breadwinner and it was a hard time for my mother, as she had no income to support six children. Shortly after, ChildFund came to my family’s rescue, as they educated me, provided clean water and other health improvements and, most important, assisted my mother and her ability to feed us. Today, with confidence I will say ChildFund is an organization that works extremely hard to assist the deprived, excluded and vulnerable children of the world, as well as striving to make them leaders of tomorrow.
Who am I today? I am a 27-year-old English degree graduate working with ChildFund in Northshoa, Ethiopia, as a sponsorship community development worker. The organization has taught me the importance of education, and currently, I am a third-year degree program student in business administration, graduating next year with intentions of establishing my own business. Through ChildFund’s emphasis on education, my life is filled with hope and encouragement.
As a community development worker, I earn approximately US$220 monthly. Not only do I financially support myself, but also my family, as my siblings can now go to school as a result of the opportunities ChildFund has offered me. Working within this organization has made me realize how fortunate I am to be involved in improving the lives of children whom I can relate to because I was once just like them.
On top of my work duties, I offer advice and guidance to less fortunate children as I encourage and motivate them so one day they can have a bright future.
My sponsor has not only financially assisted me, but has provided the encouragement that has led to who I am today. I would like my sponsor to know that I am now an employee supporting myself and my family, and her dream for me is fulfilled.
by Tenagne Mekonnen, Regional Communications Manager, ChildFund Africa
“My financial status has increased. I can support my family with the income I get. My children and family have the benefit of drinking milk. Food is on the table all the time,” Genet tells me with a big smile when I stop by her house for a visit.
The mother of three children, Genet lives about 130 km (81 miles) from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. Genet is the beneficiary of the ChildFund-Semen Shoa Tesfa Berhan Child and Development Family Association (CDFA). One of her children now has a ChildFund sponsor.
Genet joined the credit and savings cooperative organized by CDFA and the Ethiopian government to alleviate her poverty. She was able to take a loan and buy a cow to start a milk-selling business in her village. But prior to the purchase of the cow, Genet explains that she received ChildFund-supported training to help her run her business successfully.
“I purchased this beautiful cow and I get 15 liters (4 gallons) per day from this cow,” Genet tells me. Her children and family are happy to now have a steady supply of milk at home. Selling the extra milk has also improved the financial status of the family, enabling them to buy other necessities and send their children to school.
I ask Genet how she sells all of the milk and who are her customers. She replies that the family association has organized the Women’s Milk Cooperative with support from ChildFund Australia. Village women bring their milk to the co-op every day. The association then sells milk, butter, cream and cheese to the local community. “Though we give our milk to the cooperative on a daily basis, we collect the money twice a week, which helps us to use the money wisely,” Genet explains.
In addition to her dairy business, Genet points to other assistance gained through ChildFund. “The organization provided us apple seeds. I planted the apple seeds. I had not seen an apple before in my life; it was the first time last year I was able to see and taste apple,” she says.
“Now I have the information about apples,” Genet exclaims. “The apple is good for health and can make good money. Therefore, this year I have apple fruits on my trees and I am sure that too is going to increase my finances.”
ChildFund gives sustainable and life-changing support to the community on a long-term basis, Genet reflects. “But if for some reason ChildFund decides to leave this town, we are able to stand by ourselves. Our status is changed because of the training and the support we have received from the organization,” she says.
“What can I say? I have no words to express what ChildFund is doing. We can only say we are different now. Our children go to school, they are healthy, they are fed well and they have uniforms and school materials. We know there will always be challenge but we have learned how to tackle,” she says.
Now, I understand the big smile of Genet.