Statistics cannot adequately capture the human tragedy that children and the elderly are facing in Ethiopia. For those children unable to go to school, idleness is only the beginning of their troubles. When a child is not able to get education at a young age, it often leads the child to behaviors that will harm their future and hurt their community. In addition to the lack of education, these children are often impoverished and unprotected.
Parents often lack jobs and adequate income which makes it difficult to provide their children with the basic necessities of life. It can leave the children vulnerable to malnutrition, illness, abuse, child labor, and sexual exploitation, as well as, suffering from the stigma and discrimination associated with AIDS/HIV. Many are destined to become street children since there is, at best, a limited social structure that can assist and mentor these children to become industrious. There are simply not enough resources to provide for the staggering number of orphans and underprivileged children.
As one born and raised in Ethiopia, I was a part of this community and lived in the same or worse situations than most of them. However, I was blessed to be cared for by some good people who recognized my situation and assisted me by alleviating some of my problems. They supported me by giving me a chance to be a productive member of society.
I am a living witness that when good people strive to make a difference in the life of others by recognizing the needs, they change lives in positive ways. I am so grateful to those people who helped me through my day to day struggles as a child and afforded me the opportunity for a good education.
After a decade of living out side the country of Ethiopia, I returned for a visit in the year 2007. This was when I came face to face with my past. I was astonished by the number of orphans and many school age children who were merely idle. There were limitless numbers of elderly men and women who stayed in bed for days due to sickness without medical care and assistance. Their families were noticeably worried about where the next meal would come. Without food, medical problems would continue.