Reaching Out to Street Children in Ethiopia

by Retrak America
Apr 13, 2011

Akiki's Story

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


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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
$54,404 raised of $80,000 goal
805 donations
$25,596 to go
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