Zenia was born in Addis Ababa in 1996. Her father died when she was a young child and she lived with her mother until she was 7. Not long after Zenia turned seven her mum died from AIDS. Zenia’s uncle had to take her in and look after her. Her uncle’s wife was not happy about having to look after another child. She began to abuse Zenia, beating her and calling her names. Her uncle tried to help her but the abuse didn’t stop. In the end he told her that she should leave as she was never going to be welcome in his wife’s home. Zenia left her home with nowhere to go. She spent the night on the streets of Addis Ababa. She was attacked and raped on her first night away from home.
Zenia was scared and needed to find someone to protect her from the violence of the streets. She decided to accept the offer of another older street boy to become her “husband” . He promised to protect her from strangers. Although he did keep her safe from others he was also physically and sexually abusive towards her. After a year she decided to run away again, she was just 13 years old.
Two years later Zenia was addicted to alcohol and very damaged from life on the streets. One night she met a street outreach worker from Retrak. He spoke to her and invited her to the Retrak drop in centre. The next day she went along to the Retrak centre where she was able to see a nurse and a social worker. They spoke to her about the help that she could receive from Retrak and how they could help her move away from street life. Zenia now comes to the Retrak centre every day. She is having counselling and the social workers are trying to help build up her self esteem. Zenia has found it hard to love herself again after years of rejection and abuse.
Zenia has recently started a tailoring course and is very happy learning a new skill. Thanks to the money that you donate Retrak has been able to support Zenia on this two year course. She now has an alternative to life on the streets and is beginning to realise her potential and discover her worth.
Benium left home because his mother and father had separated and neither of them had the money to look after him. He believed that nobody wanted him so he ran away to try and make a life for himself on the streets.
He had been on the streets a few months and was trying to learn how to survive on his own. One evening he was beaten up by a local gang and was left to die on the streets. He had deep cuts to his head and his fingers, arms and ribs were broken. The police had found him lying on the side of the road where he had been left for a whole night with no one to help him. Benium was taken to the hospital where his wounds were bandaged but no one would take responsibility for him. He crawled back to the streets with a high fever and needing help. A lady gave him some milk and some money when she saw how ill he was. He managed to offer someone on a bike the money to take him to the Retrak centre. The man on the bike though that Benium was going to die so rushed him to the Retrak centre.
When Morgan got to Retrak, the staff on site was shocked at the extent of his injuries. His wounds were very deep and they were worried he might not recover. The Retrak staff took him back to the hospital but the staff would not treat him as he was a street child and a ‘thief’. Eventually they found a hospital that would take care of him and after blood transfusions and an operation to repair his wounds they finally believed he would survive.
Benium spent several months in rehabilitation learning to use his muscles again. He was then discharged and sent to the Retrak centre. The Retrak staff managed to get in touch with his father and let him know how ill Benium had been. After a few months he was well enough to see his family again. His younger sister was delighted to see her brother again and his father welcomed him with open arms.
A month later Benium was resettled to his Uncles house as his father was ill and had little money. His uncle was pleased to look after him and his little sister as he had no children of his own. Benium is being followed up by the Retrak medical staff. They check to see that he is recovering. He still has chalenges writing as school as his hand was so badly broken and cut.
Benium is being followed up by the medical staff to see how he was doing medically, he still has challenges with writing at school since the hand that he uses to write is the one which was repaired, but he still manages to be in school. Benium is very happy now and thanks Retrak for helping him when others wouldn’t. His uncle enjoys having the children in his house and appreciates the continued support that Retrak provide for the whole family.
Thank you so much for your continued support of Retrak. Without your help we wouldn’t be able to look after children like Benium who struggle to survive on the streets.
Akiki was just 11 years old when he lost his dad to AIDS. Left on his own with his step-mother and his step-siblings, it seemed that somehow he had become the target for his step mothers grief and frustration. She pulled him out of school where he was doing well in Class 5, forced him to do all the housework, collect water and firewood and look after her. He grew to resent this woman who he imagined might have taken pity on him. Finally in desperation he ran away in the hope that he would find someone else to look after him.
He came to the city of Addis Ababa and wandered around for some days before he ended up in Mercato, the busy market centre. Here he met some other children living on the street and started to hang around with them. They helped him to adapt to the tough life on the street, taught him which restaurant doors he could beg left-overs from, where to find a dry verandah to sleep with guards who would not beat him. Akiki learned to survive and lived on the streets of Addis for two years. Akiki didn't want to be on the streets though and still longed to find someone who would be willing to look after him.
One day he was greeted by the Retrak street outreach workers. After several visits he got to know them and told them some of his story. They invited him to come to the Retrak drop-in centre. Here he was seen by the nurse and got treatment for the lice and infected wounds he had picked up on the street, received nutritious food and started to catch up on his Grade 5 lessons. Akiki was able to talk the the Retrak workers about his family and grieve for his lost mother and father.
He took part in the daily program at Retrak and learned how to keep safe on the street, how to look after himself and stay healthy and how to protect himself against HIV/AIDS.
As he continued to receive counseling and encouragement, the social workers challenged him to think about making contact with his step-grandmother. Slowly he began to realise that that she was the only connection he still had to his dad. One day he told them where she lived and they asked permission to go and visit her and talk about his situation.
Akiki's step-grandmother was very relieved when the Retrak social worker knocked on her door. She had been very worried about what had happened to him and thought he might have died. After some counseling sessions with her, she understood that the family had been unfair to Akiki and had not treated him properly. The Retrak social workers were able to assist Akiki and his step-grandmother to reconcile and together they agreed that Akiki would return home again.
Akiki is now back home and has nearly caught up on the schooling he had missed. Retrak social workers continue to follow up Akiki and his family to ensure he is safe, still at school and having all his needs met.
Through your support Retrak has been able to offer Akiki and many other street children like him, a permanent life away for from the street.
Thank you for your continued support in helping us be a voice for the voiceless and turn street lives into new lives.
Local Support, Global Impact
Tewolde was an ordinary boy who fell victim to circumstances and ended up struggling to survive on the streets until Retrak intervened and helped him to return home. He comes from a farming family in Gojjam, north west Ethiopia.
When he was 15 he was sent to help his uncle with the harvest in Jimma, some 400 miles away. Tewolde set off on the three day bus journey on his own, armed with his uncle’s phone number and a small amount of money.
To complete the journey, Tewolde had to change buses in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. Whilst he was waiting for the 5am bus, he fell asleep and awoke to find that his bag, containing his clothes, money and uncle’s phone number, had been stolen. The thieves had even taken his traditional gabi cloak and the shoes off his feet.
Without any money or his uncle’s phone number, Tewolde was stranded. He had no way of contacting his parents back home or of getting to his uncle in Jimma. For three days he wandered around the bus station, begging passers-by for help, food, a bus ticket, but he was unable to find anyone to help him.
Luckily, after a few days at the bus station he befriended some children who knew about the Retrak project in Addis Ababa. They took him to the drop-in centre where, tearful and hungry, he told his story to the staff, who made contact with the police in Gojjam to let his family know that he was ok. After a few days getting his strength back at the drop-in centre, with Retrak’s help Tewolde was able to catch a bus back home and to be reunited with his family.
Without Retrak’s help, Tewolde would have become another street child living permanently on the streets of Addis Ababa. Thank you for helping Retrak to find a safe home for Tewolde and other children like him.
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US Country Director