HEN I FIRST THOUGHT of becoming a “champion” of an RPCV Legacy Program project I decided that I would want to focus on the most vulnerable and the neediest in Ethiopian society. In part my reason was that it is with these individuals that the limited resources of a RPCV Legacy Program project could have the most significant impact, if only for a limited number of individuals. (I hope that it does not sound pompous to refer to a statement from the Talmud: “He who saves one life saves the world.”) As I began to research the options, street children became a natural focus for my attention.
Around 3 million people in Ethiopia 4.9% of the population are currently infected with HIV/AIDS and the rate of infection is increasing at an alarming rate. Not only does HIV/AIDS pose an immediate threat to the health of the population, but it is also set to affect the rate at which the country can develop. Addis Ababa, the capital, has a much higher rate of infection than many other parts of the country. Here, one in six adults are already infected. This figure is equivalent to 17% of the city’s adult population. The rates amongst street children are higher. The Ethiopian national HIV/AIDS program estimates that there are around 100,000 street children in Addis Ababa and 12,000 known cases of HIV positive children in the region.
Street children are particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS due to a number of factors. Apart from their general low state of health, many children become involved in sex work in order to survive, and are also at great risk of sexual abuse. The children’s susceptibility to HIV/AIDS is also increased by their and their communities’ lack of awareness about prevention.
Our Partner Organization
A number of NGO’s, both international and Ethiopian, focus on street children, and I contacted several of them asking about their programs and suggesting the possibility of a RPCV Legacy Program project in partnership with them. I first heard of Children’s Aid Ethiopia (CHAD-ET) (www.chad-et.org) in a BBC report in September 2003. CHAD-ET is registered with the Government of Ethiopia as an NGO, based in Addis Ababa. CHAD-ET was established in 1995 to protect the rights and welfare of children in Ethiopia and for delivering services for children found under difficult circumstances. Its mission is to strive towards the creation of an HIV/AIDS free environment for the well being of children and youth by working with the community through awareness raising, training, and capacity building initiatives.
CHAD-ET is working in three areas of Addis Ababa where approximately 5,000 children are at risk. This includes girls who are sexually exploited and other children who are living and working on the streets. CHAD-ET works directly to assist these children and to reduce the number of children at risk in this area by reducing the number of child sex workers. It does this by educating children on the dangers of practicing unprotected sex. This is achieved through peer educators who are trained to share their knowledge with other girls and boys in organized support groups and also with their friends on the streets. Some children have also developed the necessary skills to train other boys and girls to become peer educators. CHAD-ET also works with parents and the wider community to develop greater awareness of HIV/AIDS and the particular situation of street children. This is achieved through public drama performances and school clubs. CHAD-ET has also started a consortium of NGOs who propose and lobby for amendments to the Ethiopian Government’s policy on HIV/AIDS, aiming to encourage a more child-focused approach.
The Legacy Project
Another important feature of the work of CHAD-ET is enabling sexually exploited children to secure alternative employment. This has been achieved through assisting them in accessing education scholarships and vocational training programs. Over the last two years 71 children have completed vocational training in marketable skills provided through CHAD-ET, and currently 28 others are receiving vocational training. CHAD-ET also provides seed capital to initiate self-employment.
It is worth noting that a girl who lives on the street and is sexually active, whether or not she works as a sex worker, does have certain vulnerabilities greater than a male counterpart because of the risks of unplanned pregnancy: no prenatal care, additional risks during pregnancy due to poor hygiene and nutrition, sexually transmitted diseases, trauma and substance use. For these reasons CHAD-ET reserves the large majority of the school sponsorship and vocational training places for girls. But CHAD-ET addresses the needs of boys as well in order not to marginalize them and addresses their attitudes towards girls. It takes a similar approach in the wider community. This RPCV Legacy Program project proposes to finance vocational training for an estimated 30 children. Taking into account the age, background, and vocational interest of the children, CHAD-ET arranges for their training at other institutions that have regular training programs. These programs vary in length from six to ten months, depending on the field and educational level of the child. This is an activity that CHAD-ET already engages in, and the Legacy Project would allow CHAD-ET to expand this activity.
I have corresponded with the director of CHAD-ET Ato Anania Admasu (firstname.lastname@example.org). Both he and his assistant Alemu Hayilu are former students of the Department of Sociology of Addis Ababa University (AAU). In establishing this contact, I had the assistance of Dr. Andargatchew Tesfaye and Dr. Melese Getu of the School of Social Work of AAU. Professors Alice Johnson and Nathan Links of the School of Social Work of my university, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), also gave me a report on their visit to CHAD-ET in March 2004. They were particularly impressed with the integration of the range of services that CHAD-ET provides. They are co-directors of Project SWEEP [Social Work Education in Ethiopia Partnership], which is developing an M.A. Program in Social Work at AAU. They are looking into the possibility of having a student from the M.A. program intern at CHAD-ET.
Reliability and Reputation
CHAD-ET works in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, localgovernment, Woreda (district) administration and the Labour and Social Affairs Department of Addis Ababa City Administration in order to achieve maximum impact within the region. It has close links with two other NGOs: the Christian Relief Development Association (CRDA), an umbrella body within Ethiopia; and the Forum for Street Children (FSC), an organisation based in Addis Ababa, which has provided action-based research and monitoring of CHAD-ET’s work. In investigating possible projects, I had extensive correspondence with ChildHope UK, a registered NGO in the United Kingdom, which has funded the work of CHAD-ET with a three-year grant ending in 2004 and is in the process of developing a program for 2005 and beyond. As part of its grant, ChildHope UK provided training for CHAD-ET in various areas including project cycle management, monitoring, and evaluation, and policy responses. It was ChildHope UK that suggested a Legacy Project focusing on vocational training of sexually abused children through CHAD-ET.
Initially, I thought of proposing this RPCV Legacy Program project through ChildHope UK, but once I was able to establish contact with CHAD-ET directly, the senior fundraiser at ChildHope UK suggested that instead I work directly with CHAD-ET, saving the 5% administrative cost of working through ChildHope UK. In the course of correspondence with other NGO’s concerning this project, I received endorsements of CHAD-ET’s work from the country representative in Ethiopia of SAVE THE CHILDREN-Denmark and from Getachew Demissie, director of ACTION FOR SELF RELIANCE (AFSR). AFSR was one of the Ethiopian NGOs that I had initially contacted during my search for an appropriate partner for this project. When I later replied in a letter to the director of AFSR that I was considering a project with CHAD-ET rather than AFSR, I received a glowing assessment of CHAD-ET.
CHAD-ET undergoes an external audit by accredited auditors annually, and the report is sent to relevant government bureaus, the CRDA, and donors. I also expect to receive reports from my contacts at the School of Social Work at AAU. In connection with the SWEEP Project a UIC faculty member Professor James Rollin will spend the coming academic year at AAU and offered to look into the work of CHAD-ET while he is there. In addition, ChildHope UK monitors CHAD-ET because of the funding that it provides. As mentioned above, the Forum on Street Children also monitors the work of CHAD-ET in connection with research on the results of HIV/AIDS prevention among children
In 2003 41 children sponsored by CHAD-ET graduated from a variety of vocational training institutions at a cost of 103,891 Birr ($11,791US) for the vocational training alone (not including seed capital). This comes to an average cost per child of 2,534 Birr ($288). The average length of training was eight months, which means that the average cost per month per child was 317 Birr ($36). On this basis one can estimate that to provide for the vocational training of 30 children would cost about $8,640. Because the cost of vocational training varies according to its length, type, and the institution providing it, this of course is only an estimate. As a “champion” I will provide 10% of the total budget, $864., and Scott Morgan (Debre Zeit 6466) has agreed to join me as a “champion“ of the project, providing another $864. We invite others to join us as “champions” or to make a contribution of $36 (the average cost of one month of vocational training for one child), $288 (the average cost of providing one child with vocational training), or any other amount to assist in meeting the financial goal of this project.
John J. Kulczycki
RPCV Ethiopia II 1963 to 1965