Where the streets have no name
Shashemene fits with the description in U2's famous song, partially inspired by Ethiopian towns, referring to the lack of street names. While the problem of street kids is widespread, at present we are focusing our attentions on this town in particular. It is a large sprawling town of over 200,000 situated approximately 4 hours by road south west of Addis Ababa on the main route to Kenya. While there are cobbled streets and a few cars in the somewhat developed town centre, for the most part the town is made up of intersecting dirt roads where horses and donkeys abound and the vast majority of people travel on foot or in little 3 wheeled taxis called Bajajs.
Statistically it has the third highest number of HIV sufferers in Ethiopia, but in practice many are completely unaware of their HIV status. The vast majority live in poverty with the worst region of town known as "the riverbank": a confused, squalid mess of narrow, muddy alleys and many, many people.
There is little employment in the region, with most people trying to sell whatever they can grow or make from roadside stalls.
While there are many needs in the region, for us the people with the greatest needs are the street children who quite literally have no homes and no one to care for them.
Debiso is just one of many children and young people living alone on the streets. He doesn't know his age and his mother is dead, which left him with no choice but to scrounge a living off of the streets. You can read more about Debiyso here.
He's not alone. The government tell us there are between 1000 and 2000 street kids currently in Shashemene.
Our goal is to give these children homes and better care, and we aim to provide them with hope every day all year round.
Tesfa Manoriya Bota (Hope Home)
We’re delighted to have the “Tesfa Manoriya Bota” or Hope Home occupied with the first group of street kids. These boys have had a horrendous life up to now and we are thrilled to be able to provide them with a safe, loving, caring home where they can feel secure. Not having to wonder where the next meal comes from will be new territory for these lads, as indeed will sleeping in a proper bed.
As you can see from the photos, thanks to the generosity of supporters, we have wonderful facilities. All the boys will have their own bed and they will be sharing a room with friends who they have been on the streets with. This should help them settle into their very new lives. We even provide showering facilities - another new experience, and all the boys have already had full medical check ups.
Our carefully selected staff team spend a lot of time with the boys and we have specially trained counsellors and educational experts assessing each individual child. Over the coming months we will develop an individual care plan for each child to ensure we give them the best opportunity to enjoy their childhood and prepare them to be well equipped young men before embarking on adult life.
We may be able to re-unite some with extended family, for others we may be able to find caring foster families, but for others our own staff including house parents, will be the only family they will know. But we are sure that with God’s help we can see the life of every single child in our care completely transformed.