ADDIS ABABA (ETHIOPIA) – Life in Abundance (LIA) believes that every child should have an opportunity to rise to their God given potential in life. Unfortunately, many of the 60,000 to 100,000 children living on the streets of Addis Ababa miss that chance.
This is precisely why LIA launched the Merkato Integrated Street Children Prevention and Rehabilitation Project in 2007. The three-year program, recently completed, serving 150 at-risk children ages three to seven and thirty-seven former street children ages fourteen to eighteen in the Merkato District of Addis Ababa.
The children didn’t have a chance to get an education or learn a trade because they had to work. Even the children who were still connected with their families were often the breadwinners for their family.
LIA and its local church partner worked with local schools, community based organizations, government health officers, and local community leaders to give the children and their families a sustained chance at a better life. After three years, 100% of the at-risk children’s parents are more economically self-sufficient. And with 100% of the children in school, the futures of the families are even brighter. One of the street children is even running a business and has a bank account.
“For us, the goal is not relief, or even development in the lives of these children and families. We are focused on bringing transformation – a complete change that is sustained and owned by all of the program participants – from the children to the local churches,“ remarks Dr. Florence Muindi, President of LIA.
The program addressed the children’s physical, social, spiritual, and emotional needs by providing food and clothing, medical support, education, peer housing, counseling, vocational training, and spiritual support and discipleship through a partnership with the local church.
There are 60,000 to 100,000 children living on the streets of Addis Ababa. Child by child LIA and its local partners are giving the children a chance. Building on the success of the Merkato project, in 2011 LIA is expanding the program to other areas of the city. Our next cohort of children will get that chance and thankfully, this is our 5th cohort to begin a 3 year journey of transformational development.