Biniam, age 14
Biniam is 14-year-old boy from Gondar, in Ethiopia. He was living with his father and elder sister. He also has an elder brother who is living independently. His mother divorced his father and remarried another man.
Biniam lived a life of neglect and poverty, and was encouraged by his friends to go to Addis Ababa to find a job. But when he came to Addis, it was not as he expected. It even became challenging to get leftover food. Through these days on the streets he rarely had food to eat and went to sleep hungry most nights. After being in this difficult situation for a week, another street boy told him about Retrak and he was able to join the drop-in center.
After joining the drop-in center he said: “if I hadn’t come to Retrak, my life might have ended on the streets.” During his stay at Retrak he received education, clothes, shoes, recreation, life skill trainings, and meals, all of which made a big contribution to changing his behavior and attitude.
In the beginning, Retrak couldn’t trace his family and he wasn’t keen to return to them because of the neglect he had experienced. Therefore he was one of the foster program candidates and lived in the hostel.
However, eventually Retrak was finally able to trace his elder brother and get his father’s telephone number. After talking to them, it was clear that they wanted Biniam to come back home. So, after staying 11 months with Retrak and receiving on-going counseling and support, Biniam decided that he would like to return to his family. His brother also wanted to take Biniam to his parents and he clearly understood Biniam’s situation. So, with support from Retrak and his elder brother, Biniam has now returned to live with his mother, with his elder brother living nearby.
On behalf of Biniam and the other children in Retrak's programs, we would like to thank you for your support.
Many people across the country will be celebrating Mothers Day this weekend. But there are thousands of children across Ethiopia who don't have a loving mother to care for them or a place to call home. Robel was one of those children, until Retrak social workers found him and brought him to the Retrak Drop-In Center, where Robel has been working to overcome his past and have hope for a brighter future.
Robel is fourteen years old. He was born in the Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa. Before he came to the street, he lived happily with his parents and two sisters. But his mother left home, and his father remarried. His stepmother was abusive, both physically and psychologically. So Robel left his home and lived on the streets of Dire Dawa. While living on the streets, Robel was sexually abused by a stranger and hospitalized for his injuries. When he was released from the hospital, Robel decided to leave Dire Dawa and come to Addis Ababa. . He survived by doingcar washing, carrying luggage and getting leftover food from hotels. After staying two months on the street, Robel was again sexually abused. He went to the police again but no one helped him.
The Retrak outreach team found Robel on street when they were doing their street visit program. Robel was sitting on the bus station fence looking confused. When the outreach team tried to talk with him he started to cry and it was difficult for him to express his feelings through his tears. The team invited him to the Drop-In Center and Robel decided to come.
When he first came to the Retrak Drop-In Center, he told his whole story to the social worker during the counselingsession. Robel was very suspicious and angry and was often fighting with the other boys and often cried. While staying in the center, he participated in all the activities, including counseling, food, medical services, life skills, and catch-up lessons. He also got voluntary HIV counseling and testing and fortunately his result was free from HIV. He was sure that he would die because of HIV, and when he heard that he is disease-free, he said that “now I can be a big man and live my own life”.
Robel didn’t want to reintegrate back with his family because of the neglect and abuse from his family in the past. His plan for the future is to take business training and become independent. One day he wants to go back to Dire Dawa in order to live his own life by doing his small business.
Robel is now getting regular play therapy counseling which is helping him express his anger and grief and which will in time help him to come to terms with his past abuse and sufferings. He is now improving and is in a much bettersituation than before.
Thank you for your support of Retrak, which has allowed Robel, and hundreds of boys like him, to overcome the abuse and trauma of his past. Please consider making a donation to Retrak for Mothers Day so that more boys can feel loved and valued.
Mothers Day is just around the corner, and we can't think of a better way to honor the mother in your life than to give a gift in her name to help some of the thousands of children living on the streets of Uganda.
A gift to Retrak would help children like Paul, age 10, who was taken from his mother by his fater, whom Paul refers to as a "drunkard". Paul narrates, "My father used to lock me up in the house as he went to work every morning. In this he claimed that he was preventing me from walking away from home since I wasn't going to school."
But one day Paul's father left the house unlocked, and walk away he did, towards the capital city of Kampala, "I came alone all the way, very scared since it had already grown dark. I kept looking back but no one was coming after me. God helped me and I got to this small town, which was still busy. However, people started closing their stores to return home.... I became very worried and afraid when I realized there were no people moving in that town any more. I was scared and I kept asking myself, what if sorcerors got me here, wild animals or dogs attacked me because I was seeing them move around?"
Eventually two policemen found Paul and offered to help him by taking him to Retrak's Drop-In Center in Kampala. At Retrak, Paul says "I feel very safe here and okay now. I play with my friends, learn and also get food. I thank Retrak because they are going to take me to my uncle's place."
On March 7th, Paul was accompanied by Retrak social workers to his uncle's home, where he received a very warm welcome. His aunt praised Retrak for their "merciful heart", adding that nobody else would have done such an act of mercy.
Paul's life was transformed with the help of Retrak, and we couldn't do our work without the generous support of our donors. Thank you for your help in returning Paul to a loving family. Won't you consider making another donation in honor of Mothers Day? To donate, please click on this link: