Im Rahmen der Ecoplan-Neujahrsaktion stehen im Januar 2014 im Erdgeschoss bei Ecoplan an der Monbijoustrasse 14 in Bern fünf Füllbehälter – symbolisch für die fünf Säulen des Strassenkinderprojekts von «Sport – The Bridge» in Äthiopien: Sport, Familienarbeit, Bildung, Ernährung und Gesundheit. Wenn es gelingt, bis Ende Januar alle fünf Behälter zu füllen, verdoppelt Ecoplan seine Spende an das Projekt: Statt vier Kinder können dann acht Kinder ein Jahr lang umfassend über alle fünf Säulen betreut werden, und dies zusätzlich zum Erlös aus der Sammelaktion selber.
Wie Du die Aktion mitverfolgen kannst:
Entweder live im Schaufenster an der Monbijoustrasse 14 oder auf der Webseite www.ecoplan.ch.
Wie Du Dich an der Aktion beteiligen kannst:
Je mehr Altkleider und -schuhe wir während dieser Zeit sammeln, desto grösser wird die Unterstützung für unser Projekt in Äthiopien. Falls auch Du Deine alten Kleider vorbeibringen möchtest, dann kannst Du diese zwischen dem 6. und 31. Januar jederzeit bei Ecoplan abliefern. Vor dem Schaufenster steht dafür ein spezieller Behälter zur Verfügung. Selbstverständlich kannst Du Dich auch gerne mit Dir bekannten Ecoplan-Mitarbeitenden auf eine Tasse Kaffee oder Tee verabreden – oder einfach kurz bei uns läuten.
Vielen Dank für Eure Unterstützung!
Today Abiy is 23 years old and lives together with his mother, his stepfather, and his three younger siblings in the Shiro Meda area of Addis Ababa. He is in 10th grade now and amongst the three best students of his class, as both, Abiy himself and his stepfather proudly point out. These are in fact not the kind of school results you would expect from a former street kid, who kept afloat by selling lottery tickets, begging, and committing minor thefts for four years.
Abiy left his home to live in the street, when he was ten years old. Back then his family was very poor. His stepfather sold lottery tickets, while his mum was begging for money. Together they didn’t manage to generate enough income to support Abiy and his younger siblings. Due to the economic pressure his family experienced, Abiy started selling lottery tickets like his stepfather, helped collecting fares for minibuses, or cleaned pedestrian’s shoes. Instead of going to school, he spent his days in the streets, working, begging, stealing, or whatever else it took to make enough money to get by. He became more and more frustrated with his life at home and angry with his family, who couldn’t feed him and enable him to go to school like “normal” children. As his network on the street grew, he became increasingly independent and finally left his home to live in the street and completely look after himself.
He had now gained independence, but quickly realised that the life in the street wasn’t any easier. Nights were tough and cold, fights happened on a daily basis, and he became addicted to drugs. After three years of living and sleeping in the street, he came in contact with Sport – The Bridge. Two team members approached him, when he was playing football with his friends around Arat Kilo, where he spent most of his time. He was keen to join the programme, as he loved playing football and he learned that Sport – The Bridge could offer him exactly that. The next day him and two of his friends went to the STB compound and started participating in the daily programme along with the other 1st year’s children.
When we asked Abiy, how he remembers his time at STB now, eleven years after he first joined the programme, he mentions the sports training, especially the football, the nutrition, the heath care, he benefitted from, but most of all he points out “the STB staff members gave love to me, something I was really lacking in the street.” He also mentions that the kids regularly fought with each other, but at the same time they made progress every day and learned a lot “with each other and from each other.” After joining, him and his friends attended the programme regularly and never dropped out.
Talking to Temesgen, the social worker, who supervised and guided Abiy at the time, we learn that Abiy was in fact very difficult to handle. He was aggressive, started a lot of fights with other kids on the compound, and it was not easy to approach or talk to him, because he would not accept any authority, nor would he provide any information, when asked about his family and his life situation.
Temesgen searches out some old photos of Abiy. There is one, which shows him managing a fire with a stick in preparation for the Buhe celebration. Temesgen tells us, “this is the one, which shows Abiy exactly the way, I remember him.” He was quite rebellious, strong-minded, and sometimes he could be incredibly stubborn.
Within a few months of joining STB’s programme, Abiy opened up a bit and finally agreed to talk to his mother, whom he seemed to be on very bad terms with. But he still refused to return home and live with his family. STB invited his mum to several meetings and Temesgen remembers witnessing a lot of fights between the two. “Abiy was screaming at her, pointing out all the things she did wrong.” At that time he was completely adapted to the street life and it took many attempts to reintegrate him, before he finally decided to sleep at home again.
Temesgen also invited Abiy’s stepfather, Feleke (photo below), to visit the STB compound and to meet with him. During their conversation he learned that Feleke hadn’t found work and was still selling lottery tickets on the street. With his earnings he was hardly able to provide for the whole family. After some consideration STB decided to offer him temporary maintenance work in the infrastructure department. But this was only the start of a long and fruitful working relationship. Feleke turned out to be a very hard worker. Any faults reported to him he fixed in record time. Lilyana, the STB programme manager, tells us how all the staff members were so impressed with Feleke, that the management decided to turn his temporary working contract into a permanent one. He has stayed with STB up to this day and at present works as a guard, ensuring the security of the compound and the STB guesthouse.
After Abiy could finally be reintegrated, it took at last two years for him to readapt to his family life, as Temesgen remembers. But step by step he managed to overcome his anger and frustration, leaving his past behind him. He started school in the 1st grade at age 14, kept visiting the STB tutorial programme and playing football in the STB club system team. Even now he still participates in the training sessions of the U17 team, although he can’t play in the tournaments anymore, because he is too old. After school, when there is no football training, he works on construction sites or as a minibus fare collector for a few hours per day in order to generate some additional income for his family.
When he talks about his present situation, he seems very happy. “I have a better life now, a life like any normal young person. I am successful in school, I have enough to eat, and when I go to sleep at night, I no longer have to be worried about all the dangers, which lurk in the streets.”
For his future he wishes to complete school, study to become a civil engineer, get married, and have two children. In addition to looking after his own children, he would like to become a foster parent for at least two more children, who would otherwise live on the street, and enable them to go to school and live the “normal life” he was longing for so much, when he was a child.
Anna & Madeleine, Addis Ababa, December 2013
Viele business cards und ein Sack voll äthiopischer Halsketten….dies ist der Inhalt des Rucksackes eines ehemaligen Strassenkindes, welches in der ersten Gruppe im Jahr 2005 bei Sport – The Bridge mit dabei war. Gut mag ich mich noch an ihn erinnern, damals ein kleiner Bub….
Immer noch hat Aweke Kontakt zu Sport – The Bridge, nun ein junger Erwachsener. Zum einen hilft er mit in der Selektion der neuen Kinder, anderseits war es seine Initiative bei Sport – The Bridge anzuklopfen um Hilfe anzufragen ein eigenes Business aufzubauen.
Sport – The Bridge hat eine kreative Lösung gefunden und lässt ihn am Mikrokredit – Programm, welches für die Eltern der Kinder gedacht ist, teilhaben. Dadurch hat er einen Anstosskredit erhalten und hat sein kleines Business aufgezogen.
Stolz zeigt er mir wie er die Ketten anfertigt, möchte dass auch ich dies versuche….mit seinen geschickten Händen ist er aber definitiv um einiges besser als ich!
Rundherum zeigt er auf die Leute im Kaffee und meint, alle mögen es rumzusitzen und Kaffee trinken, er möchte dies nicht, er möchte arbeiten! Und am Abend die Abendschule besuchen…
Eine kleine erfolgreiche Geschichte eines ehemaligen Strassenkindes welcher seinen Weg geht!
The main aim of Sport – the Bridge is to reintegrate street children into their families. And the children are made to know that from the first day they participate in the program, though of course it is the children themselves that set their goals and decide if and when they are ready. It is the reason that Sport – the Bridge does not provide them with a shelter for the night. It is also the reason that there is no special food or sweets given to them. Nothing their families could not provide them with at home.
What we know about family integration is that there are two types, the Addis Ababa and the country side integration. When a child is integrated inside the city, there is an extensive follow-up; it comes back to Sport – the Bridge during the day until able to go back to regular school and later check-ups at home and in schools are done to see whether it is attending or not. If the child is reintegrated to the country side, because of the far distance the follow-up is less extensive and it is not possible to check school attendance.
Our actual insight into the integrational work is, however, very limited. We do not follow the phone calls that are made with family members, do not understand the discussions of the family workers with the children or the parents and usually do not go with, when a child is brought back to its family. What we do experience is that sometimes parents come to the compound to talk to family workers. That one morning a child is dressed in new clothes, about to be reintegrated to its family in the country side. That one boy looks anxiously into the compound to the telephone where a family worker is calling his parents. That some children suddenly show up with comparatively clean and not torn clothes and we learn that they are already reintegrated into their families inside the city, but keep coming back during the day until they can attend regular school again in the new school year. Or that a boy says goodbye to the others, about to be reintegrated and hence does not show up again the next morning.
What we do experience is that this integration has an influence on Myriam’s English classes. She is preparing a little theatre with some of the children and last week she “lost” three of her main characters because they have been reintegrated. So she had to declare twice another “proud cat” and nearly also another “girl cat”. Fantastic to hear that these boys are now back at home, living with their families again – difficult to manage a continuing class program with all these changes. Anyhow, now, the “new proud cat” can go on on his journey to find his “girl cat”, teaching the children to communicate in English and having fun to act as a cat, a fox, a cloud or a fire.
What we do experience is that this integration has an influence on Leonie’s sport classes. One morning her fitness boxing program does not take place at all, because she is allowed to accompany one of the family workers, when he reintegrates a child. They leave the compound in the morning alongside the boy, who leads them to his home. He is
seemingly nervous, anxious and very quiet, unlike other days. They get to his house and first encounter the small brother outside. The boy runs towards his brother to give him a hug and cannot hold back some tears. Then they enter the home and Leonie is able to experience how the parents take their son into their arms, how they explain to the family worker what happened and how he informs them about Sport – the Bridge and how the boy was found. She does not understand what is said in Amharic, but cannot fail to sense the emotions in the room, the mother holding her son around his shoulders, the father, in thoughts, looking straight ahead, the worry about his son seemingly still noticeable. Finally the little boy goes down on his knees in front of his parents to apologize. “Yikirta”.
When the discussions are finished and the further procedure agreed on, the boy comes back to the compound. He missed too much time at classes to go back to regular school right away. Thus he keeps on following the daily program at Sport – the Bridge until the next school year. Thus he is back also the next day to follow Leonie’s sport program in the morning and to participate in Myriam’s theatre preparation in the afternoon. And Myriam is happy to have her “girl cat” again and the “girl cat” is happy to perform as a protagonist in the play.
We are thankful for the opportunity to have come here to Sport – the Bridge in Ethiopia and to have been able to make all those experiences. Seeing children coming from the street and being brought back home, experiencing how one of them proudly introduces us to his big brother, who came to accompany him home and being allowed to personally experience the reintegration of one boy into his family. “Amasagnallehu”.
Myriam & Leonie