Star student | New students | Students Graduate | Circus Selam
These are being collated and donors will be advised as soon as possible.
What follows are short biographies of a few of our hundreds of scholarship students; selected on basis of need and vulnerability by our Ethiopian partners, EYES.
From selection throughout support, we aim not to be judgmental and whilst there may be cases of parental/family irresponsibility, what do we know their pressures and should the children suffer for their elders lack of love and care? In all our families there are few fathers, and some who are there suffer acute behavioural problems often due to maltreatment whilst imprisoned during the Marxist regime. Cultural norms may not be ours, but who are we to criticise? We are aware that some of our children have been sold into servitude or worse.
As you read this, don’t be angry or upset; these are all true stories and may touch your heart. But these youngsters are strong and not looking for sympathy, only that fair chance which we try to give through our care and continued educational support. Each student is an individual, none are “typical”, yet their one common factor is that each of them, but for their A-CET scholarship, would most likely have left full-time education for an uncertain bleak future of continuing poverty and exposure to possible exploitation. What we know our scholarships achieve - is to radically change these youngsters lives. A-CET support gives them a sense of self-worth, and hope for a better brighter self-sufficient future. Africans are not afraid of hard work and are inherently intelligent with enquiring minds.
Desta’s father took him out of school at Grade 4 and sent him to look after his sheep. As he enjoyed school and yearned to learn more, he ran away 50 miles to the nearest town to continue schooling. He knew no-one and with the civil war just over life was tough for everyone. No-one wanted to know another street boy. He worked at odd jobs to scrape a sort of life and his school fees, sleeping rough - but he was bright and his teachers noticed him. He was asked why he kept missing school, he said he had to work to live. Recommended to A-CET, Desta has just graduated with a BA (Accounting). Reconciled with his father, when he re-visits his village he encourages other poor youngsters to continue their schooling.
Ever smiling 12 year old Grade 5 Fitsum sells paper tissues on the street to help pay his school fees. Ethiopia is cold at night at over 7,000 feet and Fitsum was shivering and so was offered an extra spare T-shirt, when he put it on under his shabby jacket, he was seen to be a bag of bones and appallingly malnourished. Fitsum had no parents and his sister was trying to put him in an orphanage as “she couldn’t cope”. Orphanages are crowded and rather Dickensian. A day after we featured on our web-site, a sponsor was found and Fitsum was saved from the orphanage, now lives happily with his sister and is slowly putting on weight and of course still smiling!
Sweet Mahlet gets easily distressed as she has Down’s syndrome. Her father died a few years ago and with two younger brothers both at elementary school, life was bleak. Mahlet is much loved by her mother who now takes her daily to a special school where she learns simple household tasks. Both brothers are doing well at school.
Birhan Woldu, Mahder Birhane (Grade 3) & Haben Negasi(Grade 1)
Birhan may be remembered with Bob Geldof & Madonna on the Live 8 Concert in London in 2005. The “miracle” story of the dying three year old Birhan and her father, screened in the initial Live Aid Concert in 1985, is perhaps generally well-known. Birhan was initially featured by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Nov 1984 and later by Michael Buerk on BBC. Since she has been the subject of many documentaries. See CBC article on Birhan. In 2006 Birhan graduated with Dip Agric. and is now following her dream of Nursing training under her own auspices.
Uneducated orphaned 11 year old country girl Mahlet was brought to town by a “Godmother” and effectively sold as a house-girl. Too weak and sick to manage the work, she was soon abandoned and came to our notice. Now in a foster home, on a scholarship, going to school and receiving medical attention, her life is improving.
Ragged, dirty Haben came to our notice hanging around and scrounging at street corners. At barely three, mother had produced another child and abandoned him Reunited with a reluctant mother, Haben, now Grade 1 is much quieter, although his mother is not coping well and continues to give us cause for grave concern.
Yohannes Etay (Undergraduate),Tammy Mikael (Diploma Auto Technician)& Mine Victim Hagos
Yohannes home life was difficult, so he joined an after school circus. Yohannes not only wins awards for acrobatics, juggling and leading the band, but is an exceptional high achieving student now in his 2nd year for his BA in Cooperative Studies. Yohannes says “I’m just so lucky”.
With three other younger children and no husband left, at eight Tammy was abandoned by his mother, as old enough to fend for himself. He had never gone to school and became a bus station boy destined for a precarious short half-life of trouble. Tammy is intelligent, thoughtful and tough but always irrepressibly positive. In his 12 years with us, he completed school, graduating as an Auto Technician from College. He speaks good English, has a truck licence and is computer literate. In between as a volunteer soldier (who “adjusted” his age) he fought bravely in the recent border war, becoming wounded and decorated as a “patriot”. Tammy is a survivor, now employed as a driver and certainly our hero.
After the border war, a number of families were moved for the new UN patrolled de-militarised zone. Hagos was unfamiliar in their newly allocated farm site. Whilst playing “hide & seek” he kicked what he thought was a stone. It was a land-mine and Hagos lost both legs and part of his hand. Now fitted with two new legs he is back at school - and keen to play football.
Desta, Lemlem & Mekonnen
These new youngsters, recommended to us through the Social Affairs Bureau are all new vulnerable orphans and accepted as new scholars.
Orphan Zebina’s story to follow. Yirgalem & Aynalem both have polio but are excellent high achieving students whose disability is no bar to their positive attitude.
Haftamu, displaced from Eritrea following the border war had a number of behavioural problems and was “discharged” from an orphanage. With an uncertain future, he is now in an A-CET rented room and with guidance is doing much better at school.
Meried is an orphan and been with us for 10 years, a consisently high achieving cheerful student he is now at University. Orphan Rahiwa’s story to follow.
Orphan Gidena’s story to follow. Simon has Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy from which his Uncle recently died. A-CET will give him as full and happy a life as possible, through facilitating school attendance.
13 year old Danny had been the breadwinner for his mother and two younger siblings since deportation from Eritrea during the conflict. Strangers in an already over-crowded and impoverished town, they had no-one to help them. All four sheltered in a dark unfurnished hovel, severely malnourished, they had few clothes to all go out together and there was no sign of food or any cooking utensils. Danny had little time, energy or indeed funds to study - although he did try to attend night school after his day’s street trading - not an ideal time or way to learn. Danny is bright with a disarming infectious smile and is irrepressibly optimistic. The family is now under our care with all attending full-time school. Now in a better room, with Danny top of his class, all are doing well and walking tall with justifiable pride.
Young boys (and yes even girls) often work as street traders, shoe-cleaners or lottery sellers to help pay for their (and often their whole family’s) upkeep and school fees.
Without a room though, life on the streets is not easy. Few choose to become street children, it has its own stigma. Experience has taught us that long-term street children are difficult to help and are often damaged beyond our capacity to assist.
What is to happen to these youngsters, not only denied a childhood, but also, effectively a future life?