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Girl standing in front of a wall hiding her face. (source: Dietmar Roller)

Living on the streets

Ethiopia: Bitter poverty forces many children to live on the streets. Life for girls and boys in Dire Dawa is an everyday struggle marked by violence, backbreaking work, begging and stealing. Children are defenceless against abuse and exploitation. Our project gets children off the streets. In a shelter and a home for children, they receive everything they need to get a fresh start in life. Please support our work with a donation.

A dire situation

Azmera (name changed) has sold her body to three men today. One of them beat her, and only one of them actually paid her. Azmera has to get by on just a few birr a day. If she is lucky, she will find something edible in a dustbin. She roams through town in the evenings, looking for a place to sleep. The entrance to a building, a street corner – Azmera isn't fussy. Not anymore. This 13-year-old girl is a street child in Dire Dawa, one of the largest cities in Ethiopia. In order to survive, she has to prostitute herself. She is bitterly disappointed. After all, she fled her family's poverty to seek a better life in the city. What she found was a hopeless situation.

False promises

Thousands of children live on the streets of Ethiopia. Left to their own devices they are eking out an existence without any safety nets. Severe poverty is the main reason why children run away from home. Many families, especially in rural areas, don't even have a roof over their heads or enough to eat. The children hope to find a better life in the city. Many of them fall prey to ruthless criminals who promise the young rural migrants a wonderful home, with three full meals a day and money in their pockets.

But the truth looks different: Many of the girls end up in a brothels or like Azmera, are forced to sell their small bodies on the streets. The girls are defenceless against abuse and exploitation. Others have to work as house servants for little or no money. These girls and boys are caught in a vicious circle that is extremely difficult to escape.

Getting them off the streets

In Dire Dawa, we are working with our partner FSCE (Forum on Sustainable Child Empowerment). Our work aims at geting children off the streets and offering them a brighter future. A shelter gives children a home and everything they need to get a fresh start in life. "They receive healthy meals, a safe place to sleep, and medical care", says project coordinator Edith Giessler. "Individual and group therapies help them come to terms with the horrible experiences that they have endured on the streets." Whenever possible, these street children are reintegrated into their families. "Before that happens, though, we work with families so that parents can actually look after their children." To keep the boys and girls from running away again in an attempt to escape the poverty at home, mothers and older sisters get access to training that allows them, for instance, to become seamstresses. Others receive initial capital and schooling in "budgeting and saving money to increase the level of financial literacy. The older children receive training, while the younger ones can finally attend school. This provides excellent conditions for a successful future!

Project No. 60741

Our objective: Realising children's rights

Our objective: Realising children's rights

Any interventions aimed at a long-term positive impact on children's lives must contribute to realising and safeguarding their rights. This is the focus of our work, both in Germany and abroad.

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How we protect children

How we protect children

Kindernothilfe supports numerous protection programs and makes every effort to prevent the children involved in its projects abroad and in its German-based activities from sexual abuse and maltreatment.

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Donate now

Donate now

There are many ways to support the work of Kindernothilfe. Click here to find out how. Please donate and help children around the world!

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