The story about Melaku*, his process and the daily work in Sport – The Bridge

Beitrag von Céline Nadine Michel

I would like to visualize the work with street children, the difficulties, challenges, the future of them and the satisfaction of the work from the employees. All presents it by a biographic story from our street child Melaku who had been well reintegrated to his family in February 2015.

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Some personal dates about Melaku

Age: 13 years old

Family: Parents are alive, 2 brothers and 2 sisters

Place of residence: Harar

Duration of stay in Addis: Since 2012

Melaku lived three years alone on the street of Addis Abeba, he travelled to the city by mini bus, without any knowledge about Addis Abeba. He imagined a better life in the city than in his countryside region. Unfortunately the challenges started as soon as he arrived: no living place, any support from adults, just him-self and the street. So, he started to get in touch with other street children and he made some contacts, as well he got some bad influences from them. Melaku started Glue sniffing to protect himself from the coldness of the nights and to forget everything.

Two years ago his life changed, a Sport – The Bridge Staff worker picked Melaku up on the street and he started to join the project from Sport The Bridge.

Some statements from the Staff workers about the beginning challenges with Melaku

“Attention deficient, as a result of drug intoxication. Resistance in the form of being absent, coming late to the counseling sessions.” (Health Department Psychologist Lastawusih)

“Melaku did Glue sniffing throw the night so he did not sleep, the consequences on the Compound were, that he slept the whole day long. Especially on Monday he could not participate our hygiene program, for example when we negotiate him to wash his own clothes, he started to sleep on it.” (Health Department Nurse Sister Aselefech)

“To settle a goal with Melaku was very difficult, he did not attend our appointments and he could not express how his future could look like.” (Family Department Daniel)

General difficulties of the work with streetchildren from different aspects and Department workers

“The biggest challenge to work with street children is to get their trust and so that they don’t drop out from our Project after some days. Our main goal on the sportsfield is to teach them the KRAFT Module, we expect from our children a lot of concentration when we have our discussion times, for every child it is at the beginning very difficult to pay attention, to stay calm and as well to teach how important the positive behaviors are. The last difficulty after the reintegration to their family is, that they follow their families rules and not going back to the street of Addis again.” (Sport Department Teacher Girmay)

“Sometimes it is a challenge to cook for street children because you never know how many are coming to the Compound, we need to calculate everyday for how many people we should cook. There are the staff workers who are eating on the Compound, the street children, the street kids who are sick and need food for the evening and as well we are sometimes giving food out for our follow up children.” (Nutrition Department Elsa)

How Melakus process changed into a positive way

At the beginning of the work with Melaku it took everybody of the Staff workers a lot of energy, to get in touch with him, to get his trust and to show him better possibilities of life. The duration to reach the point of the reintegration was almost two years. A big process happened when Melaku came one day to the Compound with a hematoma on his head. Somebody on the street hit him by a stone. So there was a need to handle and Melaku had been treaten by medication. The decision from Sister was to put Melaku to the Shelter (a place away from the street where the sick child can recover). From now on, Melaku took everyday his medicine and he was away from the Glue, his physical and psychological health condition changed immediately. He started to follow the schedule of the Compound, he did not sleep anymore during Compound time and he could follow the program.

“One of Melakus strengths: He had a relatively strong perceived self-efficacy.” (Health Department Psychologist Lastawusih)

“He started to look strong for playing, he started to participate on daily hygiene program, his face looked happy, he could smile for some whiles, as well he went to eat without any disturbing.” (Health Departement Sister Aselefech)

“At eating time suddenly Melaku`s behavior for disturbing changed, he ate in a silent way and enjoyed his food. When he took Glue I could observe he had no interest for food even no appetite.” (Nutrition Department Elsa)

“I observed a physical process from Melaku on the Sport field as soon as he was clean from Glue and he slept in the Shelter, he started to be active and very strong on the sports field he was able to follow our sport activities”. (Sport Department Teacher Girmay)

“Melaku was suddenly interested in joining the meetings we had together and we could start to settle a goal for his future.” (Family Department Daniel)

February 2015, Melaku expressed the wish for going home

So, there is now the last step to do for the Staff workers, the Family Department workers planned the trip to Harar, Harar is 250 km away from Addis Abeba, for bringing Melaku back home to his mother, to his family and his social network.

Melakus Feedbacks about the Sport – The Bridge Project

“The reason for me to stop Glue sniffing is: I know now the side effects from it. My favorite lesions in the Sport – The Bridge project were Karate and painting. I can say, I learned from the sportsfield a lot about acceptance. For me the Shelter was a place to recover and have time for myself and at the end to get away from Glue. I am excited for going home, to see my siblings and family. “

About the reintegration in the view from the Family Department workers

“The reintegration with Melaku was good but also challenging, the kid was joining our project two years long, we could observe many behavioral problems and he was not able to tell us properly his family situation as well we did not know his address. There was no other option for us than to go to Harar and check the situation. When we arrived we were not able to find his mother, but as soon as we found her, we recognized that she was living with some other individuals and also she does not have any job, she lead her life by begging on the street. Then we were fried to convince the owner of a home to give them the chance to start a new life with their own home. Because in this situation, the mother was living as well on the street there was no possibility to reintegrate Melaku. Our solution was, to take them to the Kebele (which is the government office), there we have been told as soon as they get an identification card, they can rent a home. But without starting capital there is no hope, many phone calls we needed to help them and at the end we covered their rent for the next 6months and we bought for them some necessary materials like blankets, mattress, dishes and so on. For the future we were tried to advise his mother to start working to support her child and also herself. At the end the government gave us a positive response and they will help them for the future even for the rent as well for starting a little business.“ (Family Department Daniel and Syatayehu)

My wishes for Melaku

“Many things which are positive are all my wishes. For the short term: I wish to him to regain the strong positive relations with his family members and being able to stable at his home. I wish also his strengthen against rejection to the substance abuse. For the long term: I wish him to join formal school and enjoyed with the fruit of wisdom and knowledge, a competent and moderate person for others.“ (Health Department, Psychologist Lastawusih)

My satisfaction in my daily work

“I feel very happy if I see our street children with a smiling face and they are playing together and they can forget for some moments their challenges and their problems.“ (Health Department, Sister Aselefech).

“Since 14 years I am working for Sport The Bridge, I like and I choose the right profession for me, because the people are appreciate my cook, we do our best for a high quality, quantity and hygiene.“ (Nutrition Department, Elsa)

“When the children are feeling happy, we can support them to solve some problems, if they are satisfied with our service, that makes me satisfied and happy in my job.“ (Sport Department Girmay).

“The story about Melaku made us very happy, this is our daily work and this is one of the good examples which gave us mental satisfaction.“ (Family Department Daniel and Syatayehu)

Melaku