by VCS Communications Director Nicole Bellefleur
On Monday, December 9th, I visited the Vulnerable Children Society’s Love & Hope Center with Canadian Humanitarian’s in-country representative, Bisrat Sime.
The educational center is located in Kality, an impoverished community of about 28,000 residents located on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. The unemployment rate is exceptionally high and poverty is wide-spread; its residents are among the most vulnerable in the region.
Seventy of the community’s most at-risk kids visit the center on a daily basis, to receive a hot meal at noontime, and to take part in the center’s after-school program – this includes:
• Tutoring and homework assistance daily (the kids attend a nearby school from 8:30am to 3:30pm)
• Reading practice two days per week
• Art classes two days per week
• Free play one day per week
The walled compound features a building with one large room furnished with tables and chairs, and a small office; there is also a courtyard where the kids can play. The entire facility is immaculate.
The program places an emphasis on personal hygiene.
Each child keeps a toothbrush in a pocket of big canvas storage unit that hangs in the social worker’s office, and brushes his/her teeth every day after school.
To one side of the courtyard is a new structure made of corrugated metal that houses separate toilets and showers for boys and girls – this is where the kids take showers on Saturday mornings.
Next to this structure is a concrete platform with four taps on either side – this is where they wash their feet every day.
Across the courtyard is a small shelter where the parents and guardians prepare nutritious meals for the kids (there is also a kitchen area inside the main building).
There are seventy parents/guardians, and since they all want to contribute to caring for the children, they formed a committee that assigns five of them to volunteer for this task each month.
The children in the program also receive medical attention from health care professionals.
It’s evident that the social worker managing the Vulnerable Children Society’s Love & Hope Center genuinely cares for each child in his care, and is proud of their accomplishments.
By giving the children access to educational assistance, better nutrition, and health care services, and enabling them to grow through play, sport and art, the program is taking a holistic approach toward ensuring they reach their full potential.
You can support these wonderful kids and make a difference in their lives. Your support enables children to receive the love and hope they deserve, as well as educational, health and social care. Your donation also enables us to expand our Love and Hope Centre program to other communities. Learn more.