NGO Visit: Hope for Children in Ethiopia

Last month in Ethiopia, Tawnya and I (Arnica) had the opportunity to visit several other NGOs (non-governmental organizations, non-profits.) We learned how they ran their programs, shared tips and tricks with each other, and scoped out new potential partners for the future.

The first organization we will tell you about is Hope for Children in Ethiopia.

Hope for Children is a fairly large, indigenous Ethiopia NGO. It started as a service for street children, but has expanded dramatically in the last fifteen years. It’s pretty amazing that most of the young men who started it are still actively involved, all these years later.

The Addis programs focus on children. Their original street kids drop-in centre is still in operation, and helps those kids thrown out of their homes, orphaned, and fending for themselves. They focus on reunification with families, and skills training and support for kids to be able to stand on their own feet.

They have a rehabilitation program for indentured child labourers as well. Children are sent by their parents to the capital with brokers, who promise an education and better future for the kids. Then the brokers turn around and sell the boys to weaving shops and the girls for firewood carrying. The conditions are deplorable, the kids don’t get to go to school, and they develop severe medical and emotional issues, sleeping on shop floors at night. It’s a deplorable existence. So the program springs these kids out of indentured labour, supports them, retrains them, houses and fee them,unifies the kids with their families and/or gives them a chance to live on their own feet. The girls in the pictures are learning to do hair, and also receive training in cooking and sewing. The boys already have their weaving skill set, but get the chance to run their own business, or join the weaving coop owned by graduated boys from the program. The scarves sold at the main office are from this social enterprise, by the way.

There is also a program for former sex trade workers… 15 girls each year, around the age of fifteen. These girls have has rough lives… They received training and support, room rent, etc, as the wood carriers do. But they keep the girls separate, because they need addict all counselling and have significantly higher emotional support and counselling. Amazingly, they have a 95% success rate of keeping these girls out of the sex trade, and training them for other work.

Hope for Children also has an Addis Ababa feeding program, that feeds 2000 disadvantaged program in schools, and in their own programs, every day. In the rural area around Arba Minch, where the majority of the child weavers come from, they also have a former child labourers education program, where kids go and tell parents what the reality is for the kids going to Addis. They also operate community groups that facilitate lending for micro loans, etc…. For more than 2000 rural moms (mostly) and dads. Pretty awesome the scope of their work.

Tawnya and I spent the afternoon with Yonas, the Managing Director and founder of Hope for Children in Ethiopia. Not only were we impressed by his dedication, but also his organizations strategy and transparency. We toured the street kids centre where the food for 2000 kids is cooked, toured their main office and spoke with former child labourers, and met with their social enterprise staff. We even looked through the guest house at the main office, which is another source of income for the NGO.

We’re definitely interested in partnering with Hope for Children in Ethiopia on projects down the road, so this probably won’t be the last you’ll hear of them from us! I hope you enjoyed hearing about this great NGO and visiting vicariously through the pictures.

Plus, we actually submitted a research grant in partnership with Okanagan College and Hope for Children in Ethiopia while we were there. If we receive the grant from the International Development Research Centre, we’ll tell you all about it too!

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The street kids drop in centre… We couldn’t take pictures inside, since the batch of kids was new. But there were lots of great pictures of the food prep.
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The main office which has the former child labourers and sex trade workers rehabilitation programs onsite.

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The social enterprises that contribute to the NGO…
The scarves from the former child labourers cooperative also contributes to the NGOs bottom line, and the guest house directly supports the operation and management of Hope for Children in Ethiopia.

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