Reaching Out to Street Children in Ethiopia

by Retrak America

Dear Retrak Supporter,

As 2013 draws to a close, all of us at Retrak want to thank you for supporting our work with street children in Africa. Retrak has had an eventful year; we expanded our programs into Malawi by partnering with an organization called the Chisomo Children’s Club in Blantyre, and we continued to reach more and more street children and their families through our programs in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania. With your help, we’re coming closer to realizing our vision of a world where no child is forced to live on the streets.

On the eve of returning home to his family earlier this year, one child was moved to write a letter to a Retrak teacher, thanking him for all that he had done to help him return home. In this letter (reproduced below), he thanks “all the Retrak staff members” for our work. I’d like to pass his thanks on to you, our supporters, for making our work possible.


Joan Townsend

 US Country Director


Gift the Gift of a Full Stomach for a Street Child
Gift the Gift of a Full Stomach for a Street Child

Today is Giving Tuesday, a national day of giving to kick off the holiday season. This year Microsoft is making Giving Tuesday even more special by making a 100% match to any gift that’s made to Retrak’s program in Ethiopia, doubling the impact of your donation to Retrak.  A gift of $10 from you will pay for medical treatment for two children. Twenty-five dollars will provide a safe place to sleep to two children for two months. Fifty dollars will give regular meals to two children for a year. 

Please take advantage of this incredible opportunity to double your gift by donating to Retrak TODAY, December 3rd, beginning at Noon EST. Please make your gift early before funds run out.

The Terms and Conditions of this amazing opportunity are:

  • The #GivingTuesday campaign will begin December 3rd, 2013, at 12:01 PM (noon) EST and will end December 4th, 2013, at 11:59:59 AM EST, or when matching funds run out.
  • There are $250,000 available in matching funds from Microsoft.
  • Matching is applied at 100% for every $10 up to $1,000 per donor per project.
  • Only online donations (via credit card or PayPal) are eligible for matching.

A gift to Retrak can help a young person like Esubalew, a 16-year-old boy who recently graduated from Retrak's business training program. Esubalew left his home village and family because of extreme poverty and a lack of opportunities, with the hope of finding work in Addis Ababa. After three weeks on the streets, he met a Retrak Outreach Worker and decided to participate in Retrak's programs. With training and a modest financial investment from Retrak, Esubalew is now back at home, running a shoe-repair business and supporting his family. 

Thank you for your past support of our programs that have helped thousands of street children realize their potential and discover their worth. Please help more children like Esubalew by taking advantage of Microsoft’s generous opportunity and make a donation to Retrak on Giving Tuesday!

The Mobile School
The Mobile School

Retrak Ethiopia has a new tool to reach children on the streets!  The Mobile School is, as the name suggests, a ‘school on wheels’ that we use in street outreach to contact more children. With the help of creative panels in Amharic, we provide children with important education in literacy, numeracy, health, HIV Aids and life skills. The children’s negative experiences of formal education such as huge class sizes and corporal punishment, or being excluded for not being able to afford a uniform, are transformed along with their confidence in their ability to learn at school. It is wonderful to see children approach the mobile school tentatively and within a few minutes become actively involved, their eyes sparkling as they learn and interact with the teachers.

Thank you for providing the support that allows us to offer services such as the Mobile School to children on the streets in Africa.  Another way you can help us is to participate in GlobalGiving’s Fundraiser Campaign during the month of September. They’re giving away prizes to our supporters (JetBlue tickets, a flip cam, and more) and financial bonus awards to the organization with the most successful fundraisers.

Please consider helping Retrak by organizing your own fundraiser during the month of September! It's a fun and creative way to raise money for children in Africa! You can get step-by-step instructions by clicking here.

Many thanks,



Practicing Circus Skills at the Drop-in Center
Practicing Circus Skills at the Drop-in Center

The circus has come to town at Retrak Ethiopia's Drop-in Center in Addis Ababa! In collaboration with the organization Fikat Circus, children at the Drop-in Center are learning circus skills and are able to increase their physical coordination, self-esteem, perserverance and endurance. Plus they have a lot of fun! Here are some comments and impressions from some of the children about the circus program:

“It is very useful.  Since I started I have got physical fitness.”

“There were things that I did not know before for instance how to play Diablo, play with hat and other plays but now I know a lot”

“It has helped me to have self confidence. Before I used to look at others while they perform and thought I would not do it but now I am perfect. This made me realize that I can do things with sport.”

“It gives pleasure and happiness as we practice. I wish to have a chance to show on a stage”

“I learned now whenever I do other activities to earn an income, I do not need easily get tired”

“Our coaches give us and direct us to have the right skill and also advise us how to do things as a team. This is good for our social life”.

“Circus is good. I am doing well and I feel very happy as I practice.”

“When I was in my home town I did not know much about sport but now I know a lot”

 “I believe that circus has to be provided every time”

On days when they know they're going to work with Fikat Circus, children usually arrive at the drop-in center early in the morning, eager to start their day. They're anxious to perform for an audience and are looking forward to events such as the International Day of the Street Child, when not only will they have a chance to demonstrate their skills, but they will contribute to the wider community by raising awareness about street children.

Thank you for donating to Retrak and allowing us to provide activities such as Fikat Circus to the street children of Addis Ababa. Please consider making another donation on June 12th during GlobalGiving's Partner Bonus Day.

Warming up for Acrobatics
Warming up for Acrobatics


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.


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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
$54,782 raised of $80,000 goal
831 donations
$25,218 to go
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