Happy Faces in Addis Streets

Group picture of Save the Children Ethiopia staff

By Thomas Lulseged, Save the Children Ethiopia

It was my first time participating in the Great Ethiopian Run and I was a little bit nervous about how the race and our campaign actions would turn out.

Save the Children Ethiopia developed key message around the need for the exclusive breastfeeding of newborn babies up to six months. This was based on findings of the 2010 Ethiopian Demographic Health Survey (EDHS, 2010), which showed that such excusive breastfeeding was not widely practiced in Ethiopia, with only 52% of new mothers doing so. As a result, the Ethiopian Health Sector Development Plan IV has set a target to increase this figure to 70% by 2015.

With this objective in mind, we managed to mobilize 200 Save the Children staff and distribute 300 key messages on stickers to participants and their families. The stickers call on the public to renew their promise to reduce child and maternal mortality. We also provided placards with key messages about breastfeeding, such as: “Renew the Promise: Child Survival”; “No Child Born to Die”; and poetic messages from Amharic folk music.

It was a very bright day. Though security was tight, no one really worried much, except the security officers themselves. People came out with happy faces to take part in the largest outdoor event in Addis. Many runners found the Amharic poems funny and catchy. Some even asked if they could run with the placards, while others shared the messages with amongst their families and friends, creating lots of laughter and a happy ambiance.

During the race, local residents kept showing their support for our messages by waving their hands in solidarity. The race was filled with positivity and it was wonderful to see so many people dancing, singing and expressing their feelings freely in public.