Aim of Counseling in STB Ethiopia

Report from Lastawusih Takele (counseling psychologist), September 2014


My name is Lastawusih Takele. I am a psychologist in Sport – The Bridge Ethiopia under the health department. I have been working in the program for more than 5 years. Until now I was an active visitor to this blog but now I am coming to be a participant. The following writing is my fist participation to the blog; I hope the reader may find it informative; I wish a very nice stay!

It was January 01, 2013 at 02:00 pm. My office knocked by somebody else while I was working on my computer. Consequently, I rose up my neck and watched out to the door; a boy whom I guessed 12 years old stood out. I drop my work and allowed him to get in, seat and ask me any service he may wants…. He got in to and say hello with the culturally respectful manner for elders …. He stared on the ground and stayed silent for a while and started to talk to me. “….am hear coming to tell you something and get help. (… little pause…) I tried by myself many, many times but I couldn`t. “He Said with the feeling of frustration. He continued his talk, “one of the teacher and my friends were recommended me to visit you when I shared my feeling to them”. ….. Then I said”… you mean you want psychological support?”
With little confusion, he replied to me that “Yes! I want to quit using drug and be strong as I was before and I want to control my feeling of aggression”. He felt eager to do what he really wants within one night. He did really expect something miracle from one coarse of contact with the counselor. Nonetheless, after I provided him certain information about what counseling and the counseling process is, his thought of expecting something miracle from the process has gone away and finally he successfully achieved his goal from the counseling.
Currently the child is 15 years old. He is living with his mother, step-father and his two sisters in the country side which is around six hundred kilo Meters from Addis Ababa. From his time of integration, we sometimes contacted with telephone. Till now what really I couldn`t forget he told me through telephone is that “…..teacher before, when I think about gifts, only Money was immediately coming to my mind. But my stay in STB, gave me a lot of insight about the choice of gifts to please others. I understand the power of love and respect as it is equivalent to something to eat and drink. From you and from others what I recognized is this……..thank you teacher! I feel always surprised on my current life. I didn`t think even for a second that I may again join and live with my family”. (Whisper…)

Most of the times, in our country people are finding ways of dealing with such problem in living by talking with family, friends, neighbors, priests or non-counseling professionals. Though their advices are insufficient, street children are even more restricted to their friends in dealing their living problems. However, some of the problems may not be expressed as well because they may let them embarrassed or shamed if they are tolled for others. Hence, counseling is a really useful option at this moment. Therefore STB has been providing this opportunity to the children with a professional counselor. Counseling can provide a lot of opportunities for the kids and their parents.

Though the goal of counseling varies from one psychological approach to others, most counselors agreed on some areas, as a general goal to be achieved in counseling arena. However, even from these goals, STB is also selective enough based on the rationale of its general philosophy and need of its beneficiaries; let us see them:

The aim of counseling

  • Insight: This tells us in the counseling process, the child/children acquired an understanding of the origins and development of emotional difficulties, leading to an increased capacity to take rational control over feelings and actions. The above child got insight to his drug and aggressive feeling and behavior and got control over them.
  • Relating with others: Through counseling the child or children is/are better able to form and maintain meaningful and satisfying relationships with other people: for example with their family. Bear in mind what Tadios (in the above case; his real name is changed) said “….I feel always surprised on my current life. I didn`t think even for a second that I may again join and live with my family”.
  • Self awareness: At the beginning, Tadios was not aware of his blocked or denied thoughts and feeling. But fortunately, through the counseling process, he could able to realized them and even he also developed a more accurate sense of how self is perceived by others (counselor, other staff and his friends and family)
  • Self – acceptance: Most of children are highly vulnerable to self rejection and criticism.Hence, the counseling service is providing opportunities for the child/children to develop positive attitude towards self, marked by an ability to acknowledge areas of experience that had been the subject of self criticism and rejection.
  • Self-actualization or individuation: Tadios was flouting with the conflicting parts of self. On one side he finds himself as a person who wants to follow his religious and traditional norms but he was actually acting in the contrary. On the other hand, though he knew he has a lot of potentials and interests in his academic career, he found himself where he couldn`t meet his potentials and interest. He denied his identity including his name and religion and traditional norms. Though he is actually a Muslim follower, he communicates others as he is Christian and gave Christian name for himself. Hence, the counseling aimed at moving the child to the direction of fulfilling potentials or achieving an integration of previously conflicting parts of self.
  • Problem solving: Finding solution to specific problem that the child/or children had not been able to resolve alone. Or it means acquiring a general competence in problem solving. Tadios got assistant of competency to move to the direction of controlling his drug and aggressive problems.
  • Acquisition of social skills: Learning and mastering social and interpersonal skills such as maintaining ”eye contact”, turn-taking in conversations and assertiveness or anger control. This aim of counseling was successfully achieved with the counseling relationship with Tadios.
  • Cognitive and behavior change: The modification or replacement of irrational or maladaptive thoughts patterns and behaviors. Tadios was thinking that he is useless and nobody likes him; as a result he used different drugs and aggressively reacts to others as coping mechanisms. Hence, in the counseling process this thought and behaviors were replaced by other constructive ones.
  • Empowerment: working on skills awareness and knowledge that will enable the children and their parents to take control their life.
  • Psycho education: Counseling enables the client to acquire ideas and techniques with which to understand and control behavior.

So, whenever one or the other aims of counseling achieved after my counseling relationship, I always feel happy and confident, however, honestly speaking to reach on this/these goal/s is not an easy task because of different factors. May be in my future writings I will point outs these factors. See you until then.

Lastawusih Takele (counseling psychologist)

Heaven in Trouble

Beni Etter (a current intern of STB in Ethiopia) created a short movie at the end of his “Hackysacky”-project. “Hackysacky” are hand-made crotched balls which the kids filled with small stones and popcorn and are being played by juggling with the feet. Beni taught the children how to make and how to play “Hackysacky”. Watch the short movie showing an imaginary “battle between angels and demons” – a play created by Beni, in collaboration with the STB kids and co-workers.

Big Trouble in Heaven



STB-Stamm Mittwoch 1. Oktober

Liebe STB-Mitglieder
Liebe Spenderinnen und Spender
Liebe Freunde, Bekannte und Interessierte

Der nächste STB-Stamm findet am Mittwoch, 1. Oktober, statt. Alle sind herzlich eingeladen. Wir treffen uns ab 19 Uhr im Lehrerzimmer.

Vom Vorstand wird Thierry Graf anwesend sein. Er freut sich über angemeldete oder spontane Gesellschaft ( / 078 637 19 33).

3-monatiges Praktikum bei “Ethiopia – Sport builds Bridges” in Addis Abeba

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How a school-year is finished in Ethiopia and how plants survive the rainy season

Already two months passed since our last blog-entry. In this time, a lot of things happend. New children came to Sport – The Bridge (STB), a lot of activities were organised, the rainy season is about to finish and we’re still happy to be here. We would like to tell you about two topics.

School closing ceremony

This is an event who is organised every year. This time, it was a bit special because of the ten years anniversary of STB. The aim of the ceremony was to appreciate that all the former and present STB-students succesfully finished their school-year.
Around 200 children and some of their parents were attending the great ceremony held in an event-hall next to Jan Meda in the morning of August 26.


The event was a good mix of interesting speeches, karate- and dancing-shows, award-giving for excellent efforts, short movies, interviews, an art-exhibition and – last but not least – a delicious meal to end the ceremony.


It was interesting for us to see how such kind of ceremonies are held in Ethiopia. We were impressed how entertaining and informative the ceremony was, even though the preparation-time was quite short.


The organisation of this event kept everybody busy. Uncluding us. Moira held several dance-lessons with the aim to perform the developed dance at the school closing ceremony. It became a funny mix of ethiopian and european dance. The involved children were very motivated and happy to dance in front of so many people.
Beni prepared a short movie about the ten years anniversary. He used old movies from the STB-archive and put arranged them to a short film.
After the four hours of celebration everyone left the event-hall very happy.

STB-Garden at the peer-house

In the garden happend a lot as well. After the rain and hail destroyed a lot of vegetable. We held an emergency-meeting and decided to construct small roofs above the patches and were forced to replant some vegetable.


Now the plants have recovered and are growing fast. The children take their responsibility to clean the garden regularly.


This month, we started with the gardening on the STB-compound as well. The compound already looks greener than before.

In october, when the vegetable is ready to harvest, we want to do a garden ceremony at the peer house garden. We’re going to invite all of the STB-staff. The event is going to be planed and realised with all the “garden kids”. We will let you know about this and other events and projects in the future…


Cooltour 2014 – “Besser als Ferien”

Ein Sommerlager für alle, für Kinder und Jugendliche mit und ohne Behinderung, altersübergreifend, basierend auf modernen Freizeitaktivitäten, wo über den Spass und das gemeinsame Erleben Brücken zwischen Menschen entstehen – das ist Cooltour, das schweizweit einzigartige Ferienlager, welches vom 25. Juli bis 1. August 2014 auf dem Camping Eichholz in Bern mit 70 Teilnehmenden aus der ganzen Schweiz stattfand.

Dem eingespielten OK und den rund zwanzig motivierten Volunteers gelang es wiederum, eine kinder- und jugendgerechte Umgebung für die persönliche Entfaltung und gegenseitige Integration zu schaffen und bestätigte dadurch die äusserst positiven Erfahrungen der Vorjahre. Cooltour wurde von Blindspot initiiert, wird gemeinsam mit Plusport und dem Schweizerischen Blinden- und Sehbehindertenverband organisiert und durch zahlreiche Stiftungen gefördert. STB unterstützt durch persönliche Mitarbeit und ist in der Lagerwoche im OK vertreten.

Mehr Infos unter:

Bericht von Thierry Graf, Präsident Sport – The Bridge

Newsletter Sport – The Bridge, August 2014 (Download Newsletter: NL_August_14)

Cooltour 2014

Cooltour 2014

Tanz-Workshop, Cooltour 2014

Tanz-Workshop, Cooltour 2014

STB Ethiopia’s 10th Anniversary – How Everything Started

The time since the start of Sport – The Bridge’s (STB) program in Ethiopia passed so fast that no one from the staff realizes that it is 10 years ago when we started to support street children. From December 2004 till today a countless amount of things happened and plenty of experiences have been made within STB.

Acknowledgement to the Founders

We are still very respectful towards the two Swiss teams of STB who built up the program. Starting with 20 street children on December 20 2014, Stephan and Simona Zihler, Kathrin Wespi and Ivan König in the first year and Caroline Gehring, Paolo Altundag and Stephan Brun in the second year set up the grounds with a lot of passion, trust and positive energy. Sometimes, when the staff sits together, we talk and remember the Swiss teams and we tell each other anecdotes about this memorable time. Looking back, it was wonderful to see how the crew faced challenges and no matter in which direction a situation had gone, they always found a way to manage it. Until today this is still a big inspiration for our daily work.

First Group of Children

When we look back, we have never met such a difficult and wonderful group of children in the past 10 years like the one in the first year of STB. They were the first group of children integrated through STB’s approach and will thus always remain special. With them we started to polish and to develop our methods and today it is touching to see how these kids have grown up and conquer everyday’s challenges.

Taking Responsibility

In 2005 the structuring of the departments was concluded and in 2006 the time came to create a new structure of leadership by transferring the responsibility to the Ethiopian staff. Since then, we faced several challenges, old and new ones, and there will be more to come. Of course, these were joined by a lot of happy days during the past years. Every time when we integrate a child with his family or when we receive a visit from former program children telling us that they are doing fine it gives us the approval about the impact of our efforts. But also administrational successes are satisfying, such as the renewal of the project’s license, which can be a hard process.

A New Approach

Many staff members remember how they were confused, when they heard for the first time that children do not spend their night on the STB compound or in a specific home meant for them. Experience has given us confidence that our methodology works. By not giving shelter to the street children, but rehabilitating them from where they are and supporting them on their way back to their family and the school, we focus on the children willing to change their situation. Working for STB still is a unique opportunity for all staff members and all emphasize that they have learnt a lot through it. At the beginning, new staff members often have some restraints to work with street children, but when they find their own way to explain to the children that they won’t get materialistic support but sympathy and empowerment, they’re all convinced by the exemplary character of STB Ethiopia.

How the founding team transmitted their ideas and handed over their project to local people within such a short time period deserves a lot of respect. A big THANK YOU to Stephan Zihler and all your brave fellows to have given us your ideas and your trust to run the project you started. Everybody who is involved in STB is gaining a lot out of this chance.

Staff Members STB Ethiopia

Newsletter Sport – The Bridge, August 2014 (Download Newsletter: NL_August_14)


Some impressions of the last 10 years

About us!

IMG_1978We are already two months here in Addis Ababa, working for Sport – The Bridge (STB). It’s time to present ourselves and our projects, which we already started with a lot of motivation.

We like the philosophy of STB and its aspects of holistic development and re-integration. Because of our professional and personal background we are highly interested in the thoughts of using sport pedagogy as a way to empower street children for school and family re-integration. That’s why we are very happy to have the possibility to work for STB.


About us

We are 28 and 29 years old and a couple. Moïra is a primary teacher and already taught for 5 years in Swiss schools and as well worked in Myanmar for two years in an educational program for children and teachers (Education for Youth – E4Y in Yangon, Myanmar. There she trained future teachers, developed curriculums together with the Myanmar teachers and taught English lessons to the Myanmar children who were living on the street. After 6 years of teaching, Moïra felt to have a break and travel to Asia and India to visit E4Y and after to work abroad together with Beni for more than half year. Moïra started the study of dance and movement two years ago. This study she had to interrupt  because of the stay in Ethiopia.

Beni was working for Swisscom (swiss telecommunication company) from 2002 to 2007. After, he could make a wide range of experiences in the field of Social Work while he was serving civil service instead of going to the military. He liked his different works very much, so he decided to study Social Work. He finished his Bachelor-studies in sociocultural animation in Lucerne in March 2014. He always was very interested in other cultures and was curious about people’s lifestyles in other corners of the world. But after a lot of traveling, he was looking for a new experience and decided that he wishes to live and work abroad one day. After he finished his studies in Social Work this year and with Moïra’s very nice company , he found the possibility to realize that dream.

Moïra’s garden project

The general objective of this project is to build and maintain a vegetable and spice garden next to the STB peer house. The peer house gives an opportunity to STB children which can’t be reintegrated to their families within the planned period of one year. One specific objective of the project is to give responsibility to the children living in the peer house and the STB children working in the garden. The children learn about recycling garden waste (composting), about planting and maintaining a garden and about healthy food and hygienic. After the first two months we already cleaned the garden, built patches and held the first workshop about gardening in the peer house.

This week we started planting the vegetable. There are two groups of children working in the garden once a week. Unfortunately the raining season just started very badly, so we hope the plants will survive the floods. We hope there will be a lot of vegetable to harvest after the raining season. The plan is to harvest it and cook it together with the kids for one special STB event.

Moïra’s perception games project

IMG_2063The general objective of this project is to improve self and social confidence and perception of the STB team and the children through perception games. Especially for the rainy season and for breaktimes the games can be a helpful option to attract the children and teach them about important topics like perception or social skills. If in the rainy season the children can’t go to the sports field, it’s nice to have the option to play perception games on the STB compound and it doesn’t need a lot of space to do it. Another specific objective is to learn more about the teacher’s training method. Moïra holds weekly teacher’s training periods with the teachers of the Sport Department. The teachers teach the games to the children and get feedback about their teaching methods from the other teachers. We are collecting all the perception games, so that it will be easy accessible to use for everyone. Once a month Moïra is doing a half day workshop to all the team members of STB about perception games with the aim to improve self- and group-perception.


Beni’s Hackysacky project

I always loved to play Hackysacky. This is a little, filled ball who most of the swiss people know from the breaktimes in their childhood. Already in Switzerland, I thought, the street children could like as well to learn to play Hackysacky. Because, this game only needs one thing that can be carried in the pocket of trousers: a Hackysacky. With this little ball, they can play alone or in company. They can improve their fine motor skills, their body control, their teamplay and much more without even realizing it.

I’m realizing the project with the very helpful help of Behailu, the STB-teacher. Before we could start to play, the children had to produce their own Hackysacky with a crochet hook and thread (Häkelnadel und Garn). This was very unusual and hard for a lot of the children. But I was happy to see how fast they learned and how much they liked doing it. Now, as they finished their Hackysackys, we face the problem that they don’t want to start to play. They want to make another Hackysacky. This is a nice problem and I guess we will solve when we show them how to play with the little ball and motivate to learn it with a nice, huge final tournament where they can show their skills.

I’m very happy how the project evolves and how I can develop the next steps together with Behailu. The project even took a different direction which I like very much. Some of the children make their own garments to warm theirselves in the cold rainy season.

Beni’s Movie project

After finishing the Hackysacky-project, I will start to make a short documentary-movie about STB. I’m having a lot of experience in making movies, so I hope I can find a way to show outsiders how STB is helping to a lot of children and what makes it unique. I can’t tell much about how the movie will look like but I hope that I can present you the final product on this blog in some months.

We are both very motivated and we hope our projects can have a positive influence to Sport – The Bridge. From the very beginning we felt welcome, well supported of the whole team and comfortable in the lovely Guesthouse.

We use this opportunity to say thank you to everyone from Ethiopia and Switzerland who made it possible that we can spend such a great time here in Addis Ababa!

STB-Stamm macht Sommerpause

Liebe Freunde von Sport – The Bridge

Die bereits angekündigten Daten für die nächsten Treffen beim STB-Stamm fallen aus. In den Sommermonaten Juli und August findet daher kein Stamm statt und wir freuen uns, am Mittwoch 3. September wiederum viele bekannte Gesichter aus der STB-Familie am Stamm im Progr Bern anzutreffen.

Als Alternative wärmstens zu empfehlen ist jedoch ein Besuch des Sommerlagers Cooltour, wo sich STB seit Jahren aktiv engagiert. Vom 25. Juli bis 1. August verbringen wir mit rund 70 Kindern und Jugendlichen mit und ohne Behinderung eine intensive Woche auf dem Campingplatz Eichholz in Bern. Besuche sind herzlich willkommen. Personen, die gerne Augenschein dieses schweizweit einzigartigen Projekts nehmen möchten, sind gebeten sich vorher kurz mit Thierry Graf abzusprechen.

Der Vorstand von Sport – The Bridge wünscht allen einen schönen Sommer!

STB-Postkarten neu online erhältlich!

Sport – The Bridge ist neuer Charity-Partner der Online-Plattform „Petiteposte“!

Dies bedeutet: Postkarten von Sport – The Bridge können neu online auf direkt über Mail oder Post versendet, aber auch nach Hause bestellt werden. Nebst dem regelmässig neuen Angebot an tollen Sujets, welche von Kindern aus dem Programm in Äthiopien gemalt wurden, gibt es seit dem Auftakt zur Fussball WM eine dazu passende, limitierte Postkarten-Serie. Überraschen sie Ihre Bekannten oder Mitarbeitenden mit einer speziellen Einladung zu Ihrer Veranstaltung rund um die spannenden Spiele in Brasilien und schaffen sie eine Verbindung zwischen zwei Aspekten von Fussball – Fussball als geselliges Zusammensein und Fussball zur sozialen Entwicklung.

 STB_WM_Sujet_7 (Medium)

In Zeiten der Informationsflut stechen Postkarten besonders hervor. Überbringen Sie damit Ihre Einladungen, Glückwünsche oder Inhalte der Unternehmenskommunikation sichtbar, kurz & knackig und auf persönliche und sympathische Weise.

Neu wird also mit nur wenigen Klicks mehrfach Freude beschert:

Für die Absender, welche einfach und schnell eine Nachricht schicken können, für die Empfänger, welche eine Karte erhalten sowie natürlich für die Strassenkinder im Programm von Sport – The Bridge in Äthiopien, denen für jede verkaufte Karte 1 Franken zukommt.

Viel Spass beim Stöbern auf!

Klicken Sie HIER um direkt zu den WM Sujets von STB zu gelangen.

Die weiteren Postkarten von STB finden sie auf unter der Rubrik „Specials&Charity“ („weiter“ klicken um zu den Karten von STB zu gelangen) oder klicken sie HIER.