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.
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)