Each day we wake here in Ethiopia, we strive to make progress in our efforts to get legal status so we may formally begin our work. It is not a small task, and it is not for the faint of heart. There is rejection at every corner. This is compounded by a few sad realities. Firstly, there is the fear every government worker experiences as a result of the latent communism. It permeates every level of government, no one wants to make a mistake and lose their job, so they take the safe route, they say no. Then there is the synthetic barriers thrown up by officials who know you need their signature, and for a bribe, they’d be happy to make all your problems go away. This is something we say “no” to, we are not willing to do it. Then, there is the written law and the in-house directives—these two things are very different and it is nearly impossible to navigate them, much less gain any access to the in-house directives.
So why go on?
What keeps us pushing forward?
Mercy Branch seeks to provide family-based care in Addis Ababa for local, disadvantaged, at-risk street children by removing them from the frightening realities of the street, in order that they may be able to live full and happy lives maximizing their future as functional members of society.
We have seen in our own home what family-based rehabilitation can do for a person who used to call the streets his home. We believe in this. We also know that this is something that is not happening here nearly as often as it needs to be. A short drive across the city illustrates this for anyone who finds himself or herself in Addis Ababa. But is doesn’t just show up for people who spend time here. According to Unicef statistical data, there were an estimated 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia in 2011; three hundred thousand of which are living on the street. Without intervention, that number is projected to increase to 500,000. Unicef also reports, among regions of the country, the highest proportion of children living with both parents is in Benishangul-Gumuz (75 percent), while the lowest proportion is in Addis Ababa (52 percent). As can be seen by many statistical analyses, the urban climate in Ethiopia has been particularly harsh to orphans and vulnerable children.
Did you catch that? 48% of all children in Addis Ababa live in single parent or no parent situations.
What is causing this? Family disintegration due to divorce and other unresolved family issues; abject poverty and hunger as a result of poverty; social problems, such as unwillingness of a step-parent to accept a child or forced marriages; abduction and rape, especially, but not limited to girls; child sexual and labor abuse; lack of kind and number of institutions that can adequately address the problem; and loss of parents due to HIV/AIDS and other health issues. In a study regarding child abuse and neglect in Ethiopia, widespread abuse of street children was reported. More than half of the street boys questioned reported being “regularly” physically attacked. Street life has also been reported to be highly victimogenic for street girls. Sexual offences, in particular, were widespread. Reports indicate that forty-four percent had been raped and a further 26% had been sexually attacked.
You need to understand that these are official statistics based on kids being willing to step forward and aknowlege what has happened to them. It is safe to say that these numbers are conservative, given the hesitance on the part of children to divulge the abuses they have encountered.
This. This is what pushes us onward. These are not numbers—these are people. These people have been subjected to all form of horror—by adults, by moms and dads, by government officials, by some of the very people who should be protecting them. It is our goal to take these children, provide them with the things they need and empower them to become the people God has created them to be.
Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
This is not a small undertaking, it is not something that we can just do on our own. We need your help. We need your prayers, we need some of your money, we need you to advocate for these kids—these human beings with us! Would be a part of our Street Team?
This is how you can be a part of the Street Team:
- Pray for these kids as they struggle on the streets.
- Pray that we would get approval from the government quickly.
- Pray that God would direct us to many Ethiopians that would buy into the vision and have a desire to be agents of change in their own city.
- We are praying God sends 150 new $30/month sponsors in 2015/16, could you be one?
- Our budget depends on one-time gifts, could you sacrifice once in any amount for the sake of these children?
[To become a supporter, simply click here.]
- Already a supporter? What about telling your friends, inviting them to be apart of the Street Team? You could share our Facebook page, put our blog posts on your wall, or talk to a friend about standing with us in support of these kids!