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.
By David Hylton
Public Relations Specialist
Continued drought, famine and high HIV/AIDS rates are all major issues that impact children and youth in Ethiopia, but with ChildFund International’s help, the next generation of leaders are fighting through those problems and charting their own futures.
At Abogida Digital Studio in Ethiopia, a group of like-minded youth are setting themselves up to become future TV journalists or, perhaps, the next big movie maker. Two years ago, youth in ChildFund International’s programs in Ethiopia attended a video and photography training institution to learn about film production.
“A month before our graduation, we started discussing our future employment opportunity and the way we find [jobs],” says 21-year-old Abraham Salasebew. “While analyzing this, we came up with the idea of establishing our own studio.”
The group of 11 fledgling filmmakers approached ChildFund Ethiopia staff and shared their vision for the studio. In response ChildFund offered technical and financial support for the entrepreneurial effort.
In April 2008, the young business partners received a legal license to establish the studio. They opened shop with one digital camera, one video camera and a computer. The group, though, still faced financial hurdles with high rent payments for the studio and a loan that needed to be repaid. Working with ChildFund Alliance partner ChildFund Deutschland in Germany, the group obtained a photocopy machine, a sound mixer and a tripod, and other acillary equipment and supplies to boost the studio’s capabilities.
With these additions, Abraham and his colleagues began getting new clients and are now making a profit. The Abogida Digital Studio offers photo and video recording and editing, film production and other photographic services.
“We would like to thank ChildFund for its commitment to support unemployed youth like us to realize our vision and change our [hopeless] position,” Abraham says.
For more information about ChildFund’s work in Ethiopia, click here.
More on Ethiopia
Population: 85.2 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 1 million children and families
Did You Know?: Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, means “new flower.” It was established in 1886.
Next in our “31 in 31” series: Youth watching out for children in Vietnam.
By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist
It has taken just a little longer than we anticipated, but the gifts for children and families in four African countries made possible by our Twitter campaign in July are in transit.
To give you a brief recap, the Twitter campaign worked like this: every 200 followers @ChildFund received during two weeks in July meant a gift from our Gifts of Love and Hope catalog to one of the countries. The gifts were made possible by an anonymous donor who went above their usual giving amount. You can read more about our campaign here.
When the campaign ended July 27, we had more than 2,200 followers, which meant 11 gifts. Two sets of chickens are now headed to a school in The Gambia; three goats are going to families in Zambia; three sets of 15 grafted mango trees will be planted in Kenya; and three sets of vegetable seeds will soon arrive in Ethiopia.
These donations are about much more than the actual item. Each item represents a livelihood for a family, income, responsibility, and, most importantly, an opportunity for a brighter future thanks to each of you.
Small video cameras have already been shipped to The Gambia and Zambia and we expect footage from those areas in the coming weeks. As the videos arrive back in our U.S. headquarters in Richmond, Va., we will share them with you. Due to delivery issues to remote parts of the world and technology issues with slow Internet connections in many areas where we work, getting information from our program areas takes time and patience from everyone involved.
Thanks to everyone for following and helping to change the lives of 11 children and their families.
For more information about ChildFund International, visit www.ChildFund.org.
By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist
International Youth Day is a day to celebrate what the next leaders of our world have accomplished. At ChildFund International we work with children throughout all stages of life – infants, children and youth – to help them bring lasting and positive change to their communities.
On this International Youth Day, we venture to Ethiopia where a group of young people have established their own studio:
Realizing a Vision
The future of the world’s news is here. Two years ago, youth in ChildFund International’s programs in Ethiopia were sent to a video and photography training institution to learn about film production.
Shortly thereafter, these youth came up with the idea of establishing their own studio.
“A month before our graduation, we started discussing our future employment opportunity and the way we find it,” says 21-year-old Abraham Salasebew. “While analyzing this, we came up with the idea of establishing our own studio.”
The group of 11 youth with the same interest went to ChildFund Ethiopia staff and shared their vision for the studio. In response ChildFund showed its willingness to support the effort both technically and financially.
In April 2008, they received a legal license to establish the studio – Abogida Digital Studio – which began with one digital photo camera, one video camera and a computer. The group, though, still faced financial troubles with high rent for the studio and a loan that needed to be repaid. Working with ChildFund Alliance partner CCF Kinderhilfswerk (Germany), the group obtained a photocopy machine, a sound mixer and a tripod, among other items.
With these additions, the youth turned things around and are now making a profit. The Abogida Digital Studio offers photo and video recording and editing, film production and more.
“We would like to thank ChildFund for its commitment to support unemployed youth like us to realize our vision and change our hopelessness position,” Abraham says.
For more information about ChildFund International’s worth with youth, click here.
By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist
Thank you, thank you, thank you! We can’t say it enough! On July 10 when we launched our Twitter campaign, we didn’t quite know what to expect. We knew we’d get a lot of new followers, but perhaps we underestimated the generosity of people out there. For everyone who lent a hand in this – THANK YOU!
As the campaign ended at noon today, we had more than 2,200 followers – that’s 11 gifts to help deprived, excluded and vulnerable children and families in The Gambia, Zambia, Kenya and Ethiopia. (For more information on the campaign and how it worked, click here to read our initial post and here when we reached 1,500 followers.)
Now that this campaign is over, what’s next? Thanks to anonymous donors who are going above their usual giving amount for this campaign, children and families will receive the following gifts:
• Chickens for a school in The Gambia
• A goat for a family farm in Zambia
• Mango trees in Kenya
• Vegetable seeds in Ethiopia
Over the next few days, we will ship the items to the program areas so they can be put to immediate use. During this process, we are working with ChildFund International employees in those countries to film video and take pictures so that you can see how following us on Twitter helped children living in poverty. It’s a commitment from us to hold an accountable dialogue with you.
We expect this process may take a couple of months to complete. Due to delivery issues to remote parts of the world and technology issues with slow Internet connections in many areas where we work, getting information from our program areas takes time and patience from everyone involved.
Now that the Twitter campaign is over, it certainly doesn’t mean that our presence there is disappearing. We’ll continue to post updates about ChildFund, answer questions followers may have, retweet others’ posts on topics we find relevant and much more. This campaign is only the beginning of our conversation.
Our Twitter campaign is drawing to a close – it will officially end at noon Monday, July 27 (by noon we mean on the East Coast in the U.S.). This campaign started July 10 as a way to bring awareness to the needs of children and families in four African countries. For every 200 followers @ChildFund receives, agricultural gifts will be given to families and children in The Gambia, Zambia, Kenya and Ethiopia from our Gifts of Love and Hope catalog.
So far we have more than 2,000 followers — that means 10 gifts to help children and families in those countries. These gifts are being made possible by donors giving above their usual amount.
We’d once again like to thank several blogs and followers on Twitter for bringing awareness to this campaign, in addition to ones we have already mentioned:
Once the campaign ends, we’ll send the gifts to the communities. We’re also sending small video cameras so we can share firsthand how these gifts make a difference in the lives of the individuals and the community. We want you to know that your efforts are leading to the well-being of the world. Continue to check back for additional details in the coming weeks.
For more information about ChildFund International, please visit www.ChildFund.org.