Reaching Out to Street Children in Ethiopia

by Retrak America
May 9, 2012

This Mothers Day, Help Children Return Home

Retrak boys at the Drop-In Center
Retrak boys at the Drop-In Center

Many people across the country will be celebrating Mothers Day this weekend. But there are thousands of children across Ethiopia who don't have a loving mother to care for them or a place to call home. Robel was one of those children, until Retrak social workers found him and brought him to the Retrak Drop-In Center, where Robel has been working to overcome his past and have hope for a brighter future.

Robel is fourteen years old.  He was born in the Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa.  Before he came to the street, he lived happily with his parents and two sisters.  But his mother left home, and his father remarried.  His stepmother was abusive, both physically and psychologically. So Robel left his home and lived on the streets of Dire Dawa.  While living on the streets, Robel was sexually abused by a stranger and hospitalized for his injuries.  When he was released from the hospital, Robel decided to leave Dire Dawa and come to Addis Ababa. . He survived by doing
car washing, carrying luggage and getting leftover food from hotels. After staying two months on the street, Robel was again sexually abused.  He went to the police again but no one helped him.

The Retrak outreach team found Robel on street when they were doing their street visit program. Robel was sitting on the bus station fence looking confused. When the outreach team tried to talk with him he started to cry and it was difficult for him to express his feelings through his tears. The team invited him to the Drop-In Center and Robel decided to come.

When he first came to the Retrak Drop-In Center, he told his whole story to the social worker during the counseling
session.  Robel was very suspicious and angry and was often fighting with the other boys and often cried.  While staying in the center, he participated in all the activities, including counseling, food, medical services, life skills, and catch-up lessons. He also got voluntary HIV counseling and testing and fortunately his result was free from HIV. He was sure that he would die because of HIV, and when he heard that he is disease-free, he said that “now I can be a big man and live my own life”.

Robel didn’t want to reintegrate back with his family because of the neglect and abuse from his family in the past.  His plan for the future is to take business training and become independent.  One day he wants to go back to Dire Dawa in order to live his own life by doing his small business.

Robel is now getting regular play therapy counseling which is helping him express his anger and grief and which will in time help him to come to terms with his past abuse and sufferings.  He is now improving and is in a much better
situation than before. 

Thank you for your support of Retrak, which has allowed Robel, and hundreds of boys like him, to overcome the abuse and trauma of his past.  Please consider making a donation to Retrak for Mothers Day so that more boys can feel loved and valued.

  • Wenna Price
    Wenna Price Such a powerful and moving story. I was lucky enough to visit the drop-in centre in Addis Ababa and to meet some of your wonderful staff. Great work Retrak! Good luck with the business training Robel!
    • 5 years ago
    •  · 
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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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