Reaching Out to Street Children in Ethiopia

by Retrak America
Alemu proudly showing his graduation certificate
Alemu proudly showing his graduation certificate

Alemu had been on the street for around 4 or 5 years. His parents had died and he had survived on the streets in Addis Ababa since he was 11.

About 18 months ago Alemu came to Retrak hoping to escape from the depressing future he was facing. He had never been to school and felt there was no chance at all for him to break away from his current situation. After counseling with the Retrak social workers and encouragement by the teachers, Alemu joined Retrak's literacy classes.  He surprised himself and turned out to be a keen student and studiously practiced his letters and numbers.

Alemu was encouraged to join night school at the local government school.  He joined Grade 1 at 16 years old.   He came to the Retrak program by day and participate in all the activities until 3pm.  Then it was down to the bus station and work for a couple of hours to earn some cash by carrying people's bags.  By 5pm he would return, pick up his books and head to night school.  After school he would return to the drop-in center, eat the dinner Retrak provided for him, and sleep the night.

This week he came rushing back from the school.  Bursting through the door he proudly announced, "I've graduated!". At 16 years of age, he had been promoted from Grade 1 to Grade 2 and he was incredibly excited. This year, with the help of Retrak, Alemu will continue his night school in Grade 2, and at the same time will start daytime vocational training classes and learn how to become a barber.

Suddenly life is looking up and he can now excitedly look to a future away from the street, using his skills as a barber and continuing his education.

It's thanks to donors like you that Retrak can continue to work to lift street children out of poverty and back into society. Please consider making a donation on Wednesday, March 13, when GlobalGiving will make a 30% match of your donation to Retrak.

At the Retrak Drop-In Center in Addis Ababa
At the Retrak Drop-In Center in Addis Ababa

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!

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

Happy Holidays from all of us at Retrak!
Happy Holidays from all of us at Retrak!

Seasons Greetings from Retrak to all of our supporters! This holiday season we at Retrak have a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which is the continuing support of our GlobalGiving community.  Your donations over this past year have enabled hundreds of children in Africa to break away from street life and return to a loving and caring family.

This month, GlobalGiving is giving us the opportunity to stretch your dollars even further. During the month of December, if you sign up for a recurring gift, GlobalGiving will give a 100% match of your first month’s donation. A recurring donation is easy to set up and automatically goes to your credit card each month so you can help provide a steady income for our work without having to worry about making separate donations each month. GlobalGiving is also giving away additional $500 grants! We need at least 10 new recurring donations before the end of the day Sunday, December 31 EDT in order to be eligible for bonus grants. Can we count on you?

A gift from you can help children like Tewodros a 13-year-old boy living on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Tewodros lived with his mother and older sister, until his mother died of AIDS when he was six years old. His sister and her husband cared for him for a while, but when they learned that he was HIV-positive, he was forced to leave their home and live on the streets of Addis Ababa. The local health center referred him to Retrak.  When he first came to us, he was physically, spiritually, and emotionally sick.  But Retrak gave him intensive counseling (including play therapy) as well as medical care.  Now, Tewodros is in a good physical, mental and spiritual state, and we hope to place him with a family in the near future.

We hope that you’ll consider making a gift to Retrak this Christmas so that we can continue to help children like Tewodros. Sign up for a recurring donation here.  Be sure to click on the “monthly recurring” option below the large orange “donate” button. Here, you will find instructions on setting up a recurring donation.

Want to give the gift that keeps on giving?  Recurring donations can also be given as gifts! Here, you will find instructions on setting up a recurring donation as a gift or in-honor of someone special.

Happy Holidays!

A Street Boy In Addis Ababa
A Street Boy In Addis Ababa

Are you trying to decide what to get your loved ones for Christmas this year?  GlobalGiving is making it easy for you to give an alternative gift to everyone on your list.  

When you make a donation to one of our projects on behalf of a loved one via GlobalGiving, your loved one will receive a personalized card letting them know that they’re helping street children in Africa.  Click here to give a GlobalGiving Tribute Card.

Your gift will help change the lives of some of the most vulnerable children on Earth, like 13-year-old Biruk, who comes from southern Ethiopia. His mother died while giving birth to him, and he lived with his father, stepmother and step-siblings. A severe alcoholic, Biruk's father abused him and would not allow him to eat. Biruk left home and lived with his grandmother for awhile, but this was also very difficult, as she was very old and had no income.

Because of economic hardship and peer pressure, he decided to come to Addis Ababa to work, but the situation was different than he expected and life was very difficult. He stayed on the street for one year, where he suffered from hunger and lack of shelter, occasionally earning some money by carrying luggage at the bus station. 

Biruk's friends on the street told him about Retrak.  He entered our program and received food, shelter, clothes, education, life skills, medical care and counseling services. Biruk said that “Now Retrak changed me to have good behavior. Retrak also protects me so that I am not bullied by other children. If Retrak did not allow me to join the program I might be lost or dead”.

After he stayed with Retrak for four months, Biruk decided that he wanted to reintegrate with his grandmother. When Biruk arrived home, his grandmother welcomed him with many tears and gave glory to God.  She said that her daughter (Biruk’s mother) has risen from death because Biruk is still alive. Retrak staff talked with his grandmother and his uncle about parenting skills and how to earn money and keep savings, and then Retrak provided an income-generating grant.  With the grant, Biruk's grandmother decided to buy two goats and shoe shining materials with which she and Biruk could work. She thanks Retrak for protecting her grandson and the family. 

Thank you so much for your support of Retrak, which enables us to help children like Biruk. To give your holiday gift through GlobalGiving, just go to the project page and select “Gift or In Honor Of” under the large orange donate button.

Have a wonderful holiday season!


The Learning Center
The Learning Center

I recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia and Uganda where I visited the Retrak projects and was able to see our work in action. Driving through the streets of Addis Ababa at night, I saw countless children huddled in corners or under benches, trying to sleep in the cold rain. During the day these children could be seen begging or scavenging for food. At the Retrak drop-in center, children were laughing, playing, eating and learning, and later I visited children who were settling in for the night at Retrak's night shelter. 

Retrak makes a real difference in the lives of street kids.  Here's the story of a set of brothers who recently came to Retrak:

Abebe and Kbede are brothers who were born in the southern part of Ethiopia called Acheber. Abebe is 13 and Kebede is 7 years old. Before they came to street they lived with their parents. Their father was a farmer and their mother was a house wife.

The boys' parents never sent their children to school because of economic hardship. When the hardship became
strong they sent out their first child to their uncle’s house. Abebe used to look after the sheep and received a small amount of money. The youngest boy, Kebede, remained with his parents. Suddenly the father’s behavior changed badly. He began hitting his wife. The neighbors usually tried to intervene when there was a quarrel but he didn’t change his behavior and instead he started to fight with the neighbors.  When the problem became severe the mother left the house

Abebe was always thinking about his family and how to improve their economic situation, and he started saving the money that he got from the job. Abebe bought sheep and brought them to his family.  When Abebe came to see the family he couldn’t find his mother. He only saw his brother and father. When their father saw the sheep he asked Abebe to sell the sheep and to go to Addis Ababa. Abebe consented and they sold the sheep and came to Addis Ababa. When they reached to the bus station of Addis Ababa their father told them to stay at the bus station. They waited but their father didn’t show up. The children became terrified and started to cry.  They didn’t eat  anything for a day because they didn’t know where to get food. The community around the bus station kept
them for the night.

In the morning, Retrak's outreach team found Abebe while he was crying on the street. When they asked why he was crying he said that he was hungry. the outreach team invited Abebe and Kebede to the Retrak drop-in center.They are now getting Retrak’s services including education, medical services, food, shelter and counseling. Abebe and Kebede are now very happy.  Eventually Retrak social workers hope to place the brothers, together, with a foster family. 

Retrak was able to help Abebe and Kebede thanks the the generous contributions of our donors. Thank you for continuing to support our important work.

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Organization Information

Retrak America

Location: Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Joan Townsend
US Country Director
Washington, DC United States
$48,710 raised of $80,000 goal
552 donations
$31,290 to go
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