Looking back and ahead

by Susanne Merkel, Ruth Bücker, 2011/01/27

Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Of the total of 169 states which are assessed with regard to their wealth and the population's living conditions in the so-called Human Development Index, Ethiopia ranks 157. According to estimates, one in two Ethiopians suffers from undernutrition. A high crime rate, prostitution due to poverty and as a consequence thereof a high rate of HIV infections are further sad characteristics of the East African state.

Despite the country's wealth in coffee, large parts of the Ethiopian population live in extreme poverty. Photo: humedica

A majority of the people both in urban and rural areas depend on international aid in order to find a way out of the vicious circle of poverty. Without education people hardly have any job perspectives. Without a job they cannot afford food. Without food women and men become weaker and therefore more prone to diseases. And this, in turn, diminishes their job perspectives even further.

It is exactly this problem that the German association Verein zur Förderung des äthiopischen Kinderdorfes Bethanien e.V. (Association for the promotion of the Ethiopian children's village Bethania e.V.) wanted to tackle when it was founded in 1997. For a period of nine years, until the beginning of 2010, the association supported numerous children, women and men regarding their every-day life in Ethiopia, which is far too often an ongoing fight for survival.

In January 2010 the association which was co-founded by humedica employee Susanne Merkel eventually handed over its projects and protégés to humedica. Since then, humedica has been organising family sponsorships, a day care centre for children, a school, well building projects, medical care and a blessed Christmas from the organisation's headquarters in Kaufbeuren.

Sustainability thanks to Family Sponsorships

humedica was able to take over the care for many families that, until the beginning of 2010, had been registered and cared for in projects run by the organisation Kinderdorf Bethanien e.V.. Furthermore, new families have been registered for the Sponsorship Programme in three different regions of Ethiopia and they now receive comprehensive support regarding various aspects of every-day life.

Kinderdorf Bethanien e.V. had run a day care centre for children in the borough of Mercato in the Ethiopian capital Addis Abeba and it soon became clear how urgently the children attending the centre and their entire families needed support. By means of taking over a family sponsorship we can provide the families with food and give the children access to education and therefore to a better future.

Apart from Ethiopia, the Family Sponsorship Programmes are also being run successfully in Sri Lanka, Haiti and Brazil, and they enable numerous families to live a better life. Photo: humedica

In the borough Kazanchis which is also part of the megacity, humedica is so far offering help to ten families in need of support. Like in the borough Mercato, they live in small huts made of corrugated iron, clay and plastic sheets.

Often these huts are far too small for the entire family. There are not enough beds for each family member and the rain keeps seeping through the walls and roofs. Water for drinking, cleaning and cooking needs to be fetched from public wells, there is no hygienic and working sewage system.

Tragically, poverty and the lack of perspectives drive many young women into prostitution. Therefore one objective and particular focus of the Family Sponsorship Programme is to give those women an alternative for their lives by means of education, professional advice and care, and to give them a perspective for the future.

In the city of Debre Zeyit in the south east of Addis Abeba, 60 registered families are already benefiting from the support by humedica. Then there are another 30 families that had already been registered and cared for by Kinderdorf Bethanien e.V. and that are now taken care of and fostered in cooperation with the Swedish association Hyltehjalper.

While younger children are to be given access to education, adolescents are supported regarding professional training and parents regarding a small business of their own.

Learning and playing at the day care centre Mercato

In order to focus on the youngest and to offer them the best possible perspectives for their lives even at an early age, humedica has been running another day care centre for children in the borough Mercato since the beginning of this year.

Make children smile while their parents can go to work. Photo: humedica

Here, too, focus is set on promoting school education. In addition, humedica offers and promotes full-day care to children who have not yet reached school age and hence their parents can pursue their business or profession.

Within a few days we will publish the second part of "Looking back and ahead" and tell you about the other humedica projects with the objective of supporting the people of Ethiopia. Please return to this site and learn more about the interdependence between water and education, the kind of support offered by medical teams and about which special project made the children happy on Christmas.

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