Help These Children Avoid Further Suffering

by Retrak America
Ayyeleck Argaw, primary school teacher
Ayyeleck Argaw, primary school teacher

Ayyelech Argaw is a social science teacher in Goro Rayya Primary School in rural Ethiopia.

Ayyelech says “Last year we did not have a school feeding program in our school. We usually encountered students who went faint while raising the flag in the morning. Inside the classroom, it was usual to watch students get depressed and fall asleep as the class activity progressed. There were times that I got desperate, stopped teaching and let the students have a break in the middle of the lesson. The participation of the students was minimal, to the extent that information flowed directly only from me to the students. Most of them did not react to the questions I ask. Yawning and depression were the frequent signs we always saw while teaching.’’

That was before Retrak, through our partner project Rift Valley Children and Women Development Organization (RCWDO), was able to offer students a supplemental feeding program, in which 650 children receive daily nutritious meals. Ayyelech describes a drastic change:

"This year we did not have to worry about low enrollment, absenteeism and dropout. We are just performing our regular tasks at school, teaching. Much of our time that we have been wasting moving around to get the absentee students back to school is saved. In addition, we can easily call students for catch-up classes and they voluntarily come and attend which has contributed to increasing students’ performances. I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks to RCWDO and Retrak, for they have planned and implemented this project that saved our time and even motivated us to carry out our routine tasks without complications.”

Retrak would like to thank you for your support which allows us to in turn support organizations like RCWDO. Thanks to your generousity, Goro Rayya Primary School students have nutritious meals that enable them to stay in school and concentrate on their studies.

Want to continue to support this vital feeding program? Wednesday, March 13 is GlobalGiving Bonus Day, when your donation will be matched by 30%. Please consider making a donation to Retrak on Wednesday, and continue helping us help street children in Africa.

A Healthy Meal at the Drop-In Center
A Healthy Meal at the Drop-In Center

As 2012 comes to a close, we at Retrak want to thank you for your support of our work with street children in Africa. Thanks to the generosity of donors like you, Retrak was able to accomplish some amazing things in 2012, such as:


  • Over 200 children were helped to return to a safe and loving family
  • Retrak’s 1,000th child came off the streets and into a home
  • Over 1,200 children were engaged through our outreach activities
  • Retrak’s US office, Retrak America, became a registered 501(c)(3) charity
  • African Union observer status was approved for Retrak
  • 30 boys completed small business training in Addis Ababa and returned to their families or are living independently
  • Retrak began working with street girls
  • Adding to our work in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda, a new partnership was formed with a group that works with street children in Tanzania.


That’s just a partial list of Retrak’s accomplishments of 2012. We look forward to expanding our work and reaching even more vulnerable children in 2013. Our vision is a world in which no child is forced to live on the streets, and with your help we will continue working to transform highly vulnerable children’s lives, preserve families, empower communities and give each child a voice.

Thanks again for your support. Have a wonderful 2013!

The Retrak Team

P.S. Please consider making an end-of-year donation to Retrak by clicking here.

Thank you for helping children like Adem
Thank you for helping children like Adem

The drought in the Horn of Africa has taken a tremendous toll on the people of Ethiopia's Rift Valley. Retrak has been helping some of the most vulnerable victims of the drought by partnering with the Rift Valley Women's and Children's Development Organization (RWCDO). RWCDO has been helping 650 children stay in school by implementing feeding programs in two schools, and is also providing over 2,000 individuals with supplemental food.  Adem Adulshekur is an 11 year old boy in the 5th grade at Goro Raya Primary School in Laga Hidha District, where his favorite subject is Environmental Science. Adem was asked to reflect on his impression of the school's feeding program. 

He started describing the difficulties of this past year: "Last year, the drought situation was so tough that we got tired and fell asleep in classrooms because we did not get enough milk or bread at home before we come to school.  We could not be attentive and participate in discussions, ask questions and give answer when asked. Our teachers let us go home one hour before the normal school time and we were not able to learn all the topics. Moreover, many children drop school in favor of going to the wild to collect edible fruits like shonka"- fruit of a cactus tree that ripe around the onset of rain. He added that even those children who attended school for the whole academic year were repeatedly absent for many days, though they did not completely abandon school.

When asked about the feeding program at his school, Adem replied that "I am glad that this program has started in my school. We get bread and tea with boiled beans every day on school days. I believe it will help us like education and attract all students to attend school regularly. I think availability of this program will avoid the problems of hunger, dropout and absenteeism that we had faced last year. I am grateful to those who understood our interest and supported our school to benefit from the program".        

Thank you for supporting Retrak as we work with RWCDO to help children like Adem stay in school. Together we can make a difference in his life and in the lives of his friends, family and community.


Biniam - On the streets in Addis Ababa
Biniam - On the streets in Addis Ababa

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.


Jemal at the Retrak Centre
Jemal at the Retrak Centre

Jemal’s story highlights the importance of reaching children on the streets quickly. The longer a child has been on the streets he more help they will need to recover from the abuse, neglect and loneliness of street life. The droughts in East Africa have made more and more children like Jamal run away from home, believing that life on the streets will be better. You support has allowed us to reach them quickly and work to offer them a real alternative to life on the streets.


If you want to support more children like Jemal remember GlobalGiving are having a match funding day! Starting at 12:00 am EDT on March 14th, GlobalGiving will be matching all donations made through up to $1,000 per donor at 30%. We have $50,000 available in matching funds. Matching will last until funds run out or until 11:59 pm EDT!#

Jemals Story...

Jemal had a difficult life at home with his father. His dad objected to Jemal being at school and wanted him to work and provide the family with money.  With money and food being so short at home Jemal left school and tried to support his father. Gradually their relationship got worse and worse and Jemal decided to run away. Just like thousands of other children he believed that he would find opportunities in the city to make a new life on his own.

When Jemal arrived at the city he was soon realized that life on his own on the street was hard. He had nowhere to go was hungry, cold and fearful of the other people on the street. He was confused and had no idea of what he should do or where he could get help.

One evening he met the Retrak social workers on the streets. They chatted to him and invited him to the Retrak drop-in centre.  The Retrak workers knew that they had a much better chance of helping Jemal if they got him off the streets quickly.

Jemal accepted their invitation to come and attend the program.  When he arrived at the centre he started talking to the social workers about his problems and about his dad he started to cry and cry, remembering his life at home and regretting deeply his decision to run away.    

He decided that maybe life at home wasn’t as bad as he thought and compared to life on the streets he would much rather be with his family. Retrak contacted Jemals father to let him know he was safe. His father was delighted to know that his son was safe and that he wanted to return home. A week later accompanied by the Retrak social workers Jemal went back to his family. The social worker was able to help Jemal overcome his fear of facing his father again. Jemal and his father were overjoyed to be back together again. The social workers talked to them about where their relationship had broken down and Jemal told his dad how much he wanted to be in school. His father agreed that the family would work hard to keep Jemal in school. He was proud of his son for wanting to work hard on his education.

Jemal is now back at school and much happier he is with his family. On the last follow-up call from the social visit his family expressed delight at the changes they have seen in Jemal’s and how happy they were to have their boy safe and home.

Thanks to your support Retrak have been able to help over 1000 children return home to their families just like Jemal!

We couldn't have done this without you.

The Retrak Team want to say a huge thank you!


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Organization Information

Retrak America

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: https:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Joan Townsend
US Country Director
Washington, DC United States

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