African Horn The Forgotten
Posted 30 April 2003 - 07:14 PM
United Nations Children's Fund (New York)
April 30, 2003
Posted to the web April 30, 2003
When Bizunesh Tadesse was 18, she left her hometown in Gonder to be a nanny in the Addis household where her sister had found work as a maid. But the bright future she thought she had discovered took a dark turn when the owner of the house raped her, and she became pregnant with his child.
"His wife was out for a traditional funeral," Bizunesh said. "He got me, and threw me on the bed. When my stomach got bigger and bigger, they kicked me out, and I ended up on the street."
She lived for almost three years in the makeshift plastic sheeting shelters that litter Addis' streets trying to eke out a living for herself and her baby girl, Tesfanesh Shemsu. It was during her darkest days, that she found out about the Godanaw Rehabilitation Integrated Project. "Friends on the street told me Godanaw takes care of the destitute and would help me and my baby," Bizunesh said.
Godnaw set her up selling candy, cigarettes and other petty trade items, paid for her rent for three months and helped furnish her modest home with a bed and cooking utensils.
"My heart's desire is to send her to school to pull me out of poverty," Bizunesh said. "I don't want her to end up like me."
Mulatu Tafesse is Godanaw's Programme Director and has been working with UNICEF to help young street mothers and their children get off the streets and away from the dangers of violence and exposure to HIV-AIDS. "Your heart bleeds for them," Mulatu said. "We teach them that begging hands can work. : It is really exciting to see them repairing their lives and living off of the streets with the work of their own hands."
His programme has supported income generating activities for 1,560 street children, educational funding to 1,250 destitute students, medical support for another 1,356 and vocational skill training for 560 young women. Godanaw also provides HIV/AIDS awareness training and testing for the children and their mothers, many of whom became infected with the virus after being raped while homeless.
About 67 girls are currently working by day, leaving their babies at a daycare facility provided by Godanaw. They return at night to live in tidy, well-maintained dormitory shelters to sleep off the streets with their babies at night.
Kidest Abebe was only four months away from graduating from high school and her eventual dream of becoming a nurse when her stepfather raped her while her mother was out-of-town. The neighbours who took her in threw her out when her "stomach started bulging."
For months, she was forced to scrape by on the streets of Addis living in a plastic shelter. When she was nine months pregnant she was admitted to Godanaw and began hairdressing training to support herself and her baby, Bruk Abebe.
"I will care for him as best as I can. I will provide for him with my hairdressing," Kidest said. "I know that Godanaw is like a shepherd - they gather us together and take care of us. Had Godanaw not been around, I would have been a victim of all that threatens us on the streets."
The Ethiopian Government estimates that there are currently between 100,000-200,000 street children in the country nationally, with 50,000-60,000 children living on the streets of the capital.
Of those in Addis Ababa, at least 15,000 are working and living on the streets without care or support, and the others spend 12-14 hours earning a living on the streets and go home to their families, relatives or friends. The Government estimates that about 25 per cent of Addis' street children are girls who are subject to violence and many turn to prostitution as a coping mechanism. In addition, an increasing number of street children have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.
UNICEF is supporting projects like Godanaw as part of its Gender and Child Protection Programme to protect vulnerable young mothers and children from a life on the streets. More than 85 street children have been reunited with their families, 100 street children placed in foster care and 400-500 provided with access to temporary night shelters in Addis.
"Girls who work and live in the streets are faced with extremely harsh conditions including sexual abuse, rape, unwanted pregnancy and early motherhood," said Joanne Dunn, UNICEF Child Protection Officer. "UNICEF is committed to working with the Government to assist Ethiopia's street children, getting as many of them off the streets as possible and providing support to those that are still out there."
Around Ethiopia, UNICEF has provided formal education and school materials for over 3,000 street children and access tutors and non-formal education to another 3,000. Special ID cards have given free access to health care for over 7,500 street children and mothers, and more than 2,000 have received health, sanitation and HIV-awareness education. Safe motherhood initiatives have also been provided to hundreds of street mothers and children nationally.
To keep families together, more than 550 households have received small credit loans enabling the start up of small businesses. A wide variety of skills training has also been administered to over a thousand beneficiaries and dozens of apprenticeships arranged and funded.
The Child Protection unit is also promoting the importance of Birth Registration in the country, working with sister UN agency, the International Labour Organisation, on discouraging child labour and with the Ministry of Justice on juvenile justice issues.
But with limited resources, the Child Protection unit can only provide a minimum of the assistance that is needed to help the growing numbers of Ethiopia's street children. "UNICEF support is only a drop in the bucket of what is needed to cope with the exploding streetism in this country," Dunn said. "We are counting on a strong donor response to address the needs of those already on the streets and help UNICEF protect more children from ending up there."
For more information, please contact the UNICEF Communications Section, telephone: 251-1-515155 or 444400; fax: 517111; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Posted 30 April 2003 - 07:18 PM
Eritrea: Drought-stricken farmers receive cereal seed
A severe drought is currently affecting several countries in the Horn of Africa. In Eritrea, the ICRC has begun distributing cereal seed to families who were displaced during the border war with Ethiopia (1998-2000).
During the past two years, these farming families have been able to return to their home villages, but the lack of rain has made their new start extremely difficult and their harvests have been disastrous.
The ICRC's assistance programme focuses on villages in the regions of Debub, some 80 kilometres south-east of the capital, Asmara, and Gash Barka, about 120 kilometres west of Asmara. The area covered forms a belt of land that stretches along the border with Ethiopia, where the heaviest fighting took place during the war. On 17 April, 21 tonnes of maize seeds were distributed to 1,400 families in villages around Senafe (Debub). This coming week, 2,800 families in villages around Mai Mine and Adi Quala (Debub) will receive 30 tonnes of finger millet seed. In all these villages, the sowing season is about to start.
In all, some 30,000 households (120,000 people) will receive 450 tonnes of cereal seed by mid-June, the aim being to encourage drought-stricken farmers to grow their own crops and become self-sufficient again. To bridge the current food gap, the ICRC is also providing each family member with a one-month food ration consisting of wheat, split peas, oil, sugar and salt.
According to ICRC agronomists, the 2002 drought in Eritrea was severe in most parts of the country, resulting in the lowest cereal harvest in 10 years. The Eritrean government estimates that around 2.3 million inhabitants (65% of the population) will need food assistance in 2003. The ICRC, whose seed distribution programme was developed in close cooperation with the Eritrean Ministry of Agriculture, is focusing its response on people affected by the conflict. The beneficiaries were selected during an ICRC assessment conducted from January to March 2003, during which the most vulnerable of the formerly displaced farmers were identified.
Further information: Mar?al Izard, ICRC Asmara, tel. ++2911 181 164
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Posted 01 May 2003 - 11:49 AM
babu--(...just a thought...)
Posted 22 August 2004 - 01:12 PM
A nice sentiment, but why do these people deserve to be singled out for help? There are hundreds of millions in other countries (Bangladesh, Iraq, Chile, etc., and yes, even some in Europe and the US) who are just as bad off. Why not help them all? Surely this is not impossible, or do the rich and privileged fear losing their status and preeminence?
1. I would suggest you look at the geographic location of these places
2. Some reading as to what the US was doing in this country from 1950-1974. They were both one country then.
3. What was Russia also doing there for the last 150 years.
The US had trade agreement and embassy there since 1903.
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