By Amerti Lemma, Save the Children in Ethiopia
Having the desire to work and not having the means to do it is a frustrating situation for any young person who is inspired with an idea. I myself have a huge aspiration to start a foundation where the discourse of gender related issues are discussed openly and men become the advocates of gender equity. This is a huge dream that I know requires a lot of work and support. I also have the full support of my mother in developing the dream I have. Moreover, my mother who raised me as a single mother is a huge inspiration. She gives meaning to the notion of what a woman can do when she puts her mind to it and perseveres with what she believes.
I never had to know what a girl aged 15 or 16 would have to look towards if she lost both her parents. If, one day, her father and mother were no more by her side, she could very well lose her source of inspiration, support and love.
The five teenagers that I met on the morning of October 18, 2013 had dreams to be a nurse, a business woman, a teacher and a pilot. They told me this with a big smile on their faces. Their names were Wossen Mebrat and Abaynesh Engdaw, both aged 16 and seventh grade students; Minyichil Bizuayehu and Melaku Damte, aged 15 and ninth grade students and Tadesse Asmamaw, aged 18 and a tenth grade student. They all live in Alafa woreda of the Amhara region of Ethiopia. They have lost either both or one of their parents and are currently trying to get by with the support they have received from Save the Children’s Child Protection program entitled Children without Appropriate Care/ Orphan and Vulnerable Children CWAC/OVC.
In June of last year the OVC association that consists of 10 children along with the 4 that I met, received 17,000 birr (1,700 birr which is approximately $100 USD) each. Some of the children in the association have started rearing sheep while others have small kiosks where they sell either cosmetics or food items. Others have used the money to support their care-takers to open a small diner where they serve food and drinks from their homes.
Speaking with these young people, I realized their eagerness to learn more and the need to invest in their passions. Although they’re only teenagers they look forward to learning new skills, but not for fun or to develop a hobby but to change what they learn into an income generating business. These kids are not only passionate about changing their own lives but impacting upon children like themselves with no parental support. They’re also great advocates and excellent role models in the community – inspiring others by what dedication in the face of hardship looks like. This is why Save the Children is investing in these children’s future. This is why I’m inspired each time I go to the field!