IFSO in the words of Beneficiaries
From Kirkos to London ( A young girl’s journey to success
My name is Yirgalem Hadush and I was born in 1991 in Addis Ababa in a locality called Kirkos. I am a third child for my parents with one sister and three brothers. Unfortunately, we were not lucky to enjoy the affection and the care of our beloved parent as we lost both of them one after the other at our very young age. I was only 11 years old when my mother died. Consequently, we were left alone amidst a swamp of problems. It was in this bad time that my cousin decided to rescue me and my siblings by sharing his little income as an assistant mechanic in a garage. Our maid was also so kind to take care of us for long time without a salary. However, it was absolutely unaffordable for my cousin to fulfill our basic needs and school expenses. Hence he was desperately looking for a welfare organization which could support us. Fortunately, he got information, from the neighbors, about IFSO’s child sponsorship program and applied their case.
Taking in to account our miserable living condition, me and my two younger brothers were included in the Child Sponsorship Project of IFSO in a month time after we submitted the application and the necessary documents. The support has opened a new chapter in our life. I had understood well the objective of the support from the very beginning and I effectively utilized it for the betterment of my future. In spite of the loss of my parents and the challenges I faced at my very young age, I was highly optimist and determined for my study.
Upon completing 10th grad, I was very much enthusiastic to join preparatory school. However, my10th grade result did not qualify me to do so. It was at this difficult time that IFSO gave me a chance to join Vocational College based on my interest. Soon after my graduation with a certificate in Food Preparation, I secured a job as a cook in a restaurant. However, being ambitious and confident in my potential, I did not stop there; rather I prepared myself for another challenging yet rewarding venture. With the support of my elder sister, who already graduated from university and got an employment, attended short term training in Modeling. Side by side with my job, I started modeling for some companies for free just to get the opportunity and develop my professional skill. My relentless effort came to yield a fruit when I was crowned as “Miss World Ethiopia” of the year 2014 and appeared in the famous World Beauty Contest held in London in December 2014.
I did not forget my root and IFSO’s contribution in my life. Therefore, I decided to organize an event where popular film actors and actresses could share their experiences for the sponsored children in order to inspire them. On the occasion, I also shared my own experience and lent my advice to the children to continue studying and developing their talent through whatever opportunities they get.
Though my result at the World beautify contest was not what I expected, my two weeks stay in London, was so marvelous and I have learnt a lot from the professional medalists gathered from around the world. It also created for me an opportunity to connect myself with international companies and agents in the fashion industry. I already signed a contract with a Dubai based agent to work as a model. I am more optimists about my future than ever. I also attended short courses in acting in order to have more opportunity in the film industry as well. My aspiration is to be a famous chef and model.
When I remember back the ups and downs I have passed though, I cannot believe how my life is improved tremendously. Had it not been for the strong support and close follow up of IFSO, it would be difficult to reach where I am now. Therefore, my sincere appreciation goes to IFSO, the staff and my sponsors abroad as well.
Tizita the Hair Dresser(Name is changed for confidentiality)
I was born in Debre Birhan, a town 120 KM away from Addis Ababa in the Northern direction. I do not know my father as he has disappeared immediately after I was born. When I turned to the age of nine, I came to Addis Ababa with my mother and younger sister and started living with two of our uncles. It was in this situation that I faced the most severe problem in my life. Once, when my mother was not at home, our uncles took me and my younger sister in to the bed room and raped us forcefully in a way that we were not even able to cry as they were strategic. They even warned us not to disclose the secret; or else, they would kill us. Despite their warning, we told the situation to our mother. Then, she reported the case to Police. Nevertheless, one of our uncles disappeared; while the other one was caught by Police and arrested. This bad incident caused serious health problem up on my mother. Despite continuous medical treatment, she died in six months time. The death of my mother worsens the lives of me and my sister. Imagine life without knowing your father; losing your mother; and sexually abused by your own uncle! It was at this critical point of my life that I and my younger sister were admitted in one of the foster homes of IFSO. Though I had completely lost all my hope and totally frustrated, my life begun to revive through the effort of IFSO and its professional staff. Besides fulfilling all my basic needs, IFSO gave me the chance to continue my education. However, I was not interested to go further to attend my secondary school education. Rather, I had the inclination to attend skill training. Thanks to IFSO, I was given the opportunity to attend a short-term training in Hair Dressing. Fortunately enough, I was able to get employment immediately after graduation. What is more interesting is that after getting enough experience in my field of study, I have been able to open my own private Beauty Salon.
On the other hand, through the regular sponsorship support of IFSO, my younger sister is also attending her college education in the field of Accounting. Had it not been with the support of IFSO, I cannot imagine life in that miserable situation. Thus, I am really grateful for IFSO and its entire staff. My appreciation goes especially to “Emaye” (W/ro Mekdes Zelelew), the founder and Executive Director of IFSO for her relentless effort for the improvement of not only mine but also the lives of thousands of children under similar circumstances.
Zeyneba, the Resolute lady (Name is changed for confidentiality)
My name is Zeyneba Mohammed. I am now in my early forties. I had got married and gave birth for a baby girl. Unfortunately, my daughter was sexually abused when she was three and half years old. Though I had reported the case to Police, the perpetrator disappeared before police took appropriate measure. Hence I was very disappointed due to the reluctance of the police and the disappearance of the perpetrator without getting a proper judgment. In spite of the fact that the case was closed without proper justice, my daughter was referred to Integrated Family Service Organization (IFSO) for counseling and medical support. In addition to these supports, IFSO has been providing a regular financial support for my family on monthly basis. I was facing a continuous medical problem. Thus, I went to hospital for medical checkup. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed as HIV Positive. After my husband knew my status, his manner and attitude towards me changed from day to day. Moreover, without making medical checkup and believing that he was Positive too, he started chewing chat, taking alcohol and smoking cigarettes intensely. Considering his condition, I told to the counselors of IFSO so that they could help him stop what he was doing. In the mean time, the Counselors convinced him to go to hospital for medical checkup. Luckily, it is proved that he was free from HIV. It was in this situation that I decided to let him go and lead his own life. Of course it was so difficult to live without him for it had a consequence of losing family bond and economic problem. However, as I believe that at least he has to live for the sake of our daughter, I became firm in my decision. Hence, after a tiresome attempt, I was able to convince him. Then, he left Addis Ababa and went to his place of birth to live with his brother. What is more devastating, I was not able to find a constant rental house as the owners show a high level of discrimination both on me and my daughter due to my medical status. Then, I was forced to move here and there to look for shelter. Despite all these bad situations, I never gave up. In addition to the counseling and financial support I receive from IFSO, I was given a business training and initial capital of Birr 3,000.00 to generate my own income. This lets me revive both economically and morally. I was a woman who was expected to die long time ago due to HIV/ AIDS. Nevertheless, even after all these ups and downs of life tragedies; I have been able to construct my own house, which is a very difficult task for many people in Addis Ababa and supporting my daughter to attend school regularly. Considering my exemplary works and success, IFSO selected and rewarded me as a model parent. Had it not been for the support of IFSO, my fate would have been miserable. I am really thankful for IFSO and its entire staff.
Yordanos Tsega, a lady with versatile skills
I was born and raised in North Wollo, Kobo Woreda enjoying my grand parts excessive care. When I turned 7, requests for marriage started to flood to my grandparents based on the custom of the area. However, my enlightened grandfather declined the requests one by one claiming that he would never allow his grandchild to get trapped in early marriage as he was determined for my education to grant me a better future. However, he could not withstand the pressure and the intimidation of a local authority that made the same request. Consequently, he was forced to let me escaped to Addis Ababa along with my grandmother where I joined my mother and father. This resulted in my grandfather’s unlawful imprisonment for 3 days.
My parents’ warmth could not last with me for long due to my father’s death in 1998. My mother’s health status was also deteriorating worsening the situation. She had suffered all the agonies of poverty with me and my younger sister. Finally, she died in 2001 leaving us in an empty 2 room Kebele House. This made our life more miserable. As a result, I became weak in my school performance which, at the end, led me to be detained at 9th grade the same year. In 2002, I resumed class. However, there was nothing for me and my sister to eat at home. At this point, our uncle decided to take my younger sister as she was more fragile to endure starvation. Though I tried to survive through making traditional Hair Dressing (“shuraba”), I could not afford to cover my transportation cost. As a result, I was forced to go on foot a long distance to attend school. I also used to help the neighbors in domestic chores for which they gave me their leftover food to fill my empty belly. On the other hand, my aunt and uncle, who were assigned to take care of me and my younger sister started maltreating and beating us to force us to runway so that they alone could own the house. Being weary of their mistreatment and starvation, I left home and joined a bar to become a prostitute. Fortunately, with God’s mercy, my friend and our neighbors traced and brought me back to home. They also reported the case to the local government office (“Kebele”) that I was orphan and forced to join a dangerous life due to my relatives’ mistreatment. Consequently, I was given the key of my house and my late parents’ belongings.
One day, I received a phone call from an organization called IFSO to which my aunt had applied for sponsorship support on our behalf. However, she used to tell us that we were yet in the waiting list. The telephone message was, thus, to inform us to come to the office and report. I did not want to tell for my aunt about the call; rather I decided to go with my uncle who was bringing up my sister. After arriving at the office, we explained our difficult situation for the staff and asked them when we may start getting the support. They got confused with our request and showed us the payrolls where my aunt had signed while taking the allowance for more than eight months on behalf of me and my younger sister. The case was reported to W/ro Mekedes Zelelew, the executive director of IFSO. After she listened to my tragic story with a broken heart, she took the case to the court and I was authorized to take the 100 birr monthly financial support myself. This saved me at least from being starved. I also opened a saving account to make little saving.
In 2003, I resumed my class in the night school. With a close follow up and counseling service of IFSO, my school performance was improved. In 2004, I joined IFSO’s Skill Training Center and took courses such as Catering, Food Preparation, Housekeeping and Child Carrying. Highly motivated with IFSO’s strong support, I was determined to continue my night school side by side the training I took during the day time and successfully completed both in 2005. Being equipped with knowledge and skill, I started looking a better opportunity. Then I went to the Middle East leaving my house for my aunt and uncle for which they paid me 7000 birr to cover my expenses.
The courses I took at IFSO’s training center, made my life easy that I was able to render a professional service to my employers. When my two years contract completed, I came back home and worked at different places starting from small level restaurants to star rated hotels in Addis Ababa. In addition, the professional skills I acquired enabled me to go to Middle East for the second time and worked as a baby sitter for four years for British citizens. Through my continuous follow up and financial support, my younger sister is now a 3rd year university student. I am now a mother of a beauty full baby, girl. Up on my return from the Middle East, I studied Graphic Designing and become a Graphic Designer. Moreover, I also work as a waitress in different hotels occasionally.
Glancing back to my past, my present life seems to me a dream. Glory be to the Almighty God who sent IFSO and its staff at my rescue. “Kind hearted people are the right arm of God.” Hence, I thank IFSO and its staff.
Geremew Nido, the renown Chef
My name is Geremew Nadew. My father, who was the only bread winner of the family, died in 1999 while I was a grade nine student. My mother is a housewife and I have three sisters and brothers. The death of my father made our life very difficult as we had no any other means of income to survive.
Since I was the eldest of all, the responsibility to take care of the rest siblings fell on my shoulder. As a result, I was compelled to quit my education and start working as a daily laborer. It was in this situation that my mother was informed about the presence of an NGO called IFSO which supports destitute families’ in terms of economic and psycho-social supports. Then, she immediately went to IFSO’s office and explained every problem she had had. Considering her case, one of my brothers was sponsored and provided with a monthly allowance of Birr 100. Later on, IFSO opened youth skill training center and I was selected as one of the eligible candidates to attend the training. While I was attending the training, I used to get a transport allowance of Birr 150 per month.
After completing the nine months theoretical training sessions, I was assigned at Ghion Hotel for three months of apprenticeship program. Following this, I graduated from the training center with distinction and rewarded as best student of the year which motivated me to aspire better future. After that, I have been employed in Hilton International Hotel on contract bases in banqueting department.
Gradually, I have become permanent staff in Pastry kitchen section as an Assistant Chef. Currently, my two brothers and a sister are pursuing their study in colleges for I am fulfilling their needs. My mother is found in good health condition and very much happy seeing improvement of life in our family. I have already married and I have got one baby boy. So, all my family members are living together and enjoying happy life with God’s power and the support we got from IFSO. We are very much grateful for IFSO’s contributions to the betterment of our lives.God Bless Ethiopia
Social welfare Club of Dil Betigil Primary School
Our school Social Welfare Club was established with the objective of supporting orphan and vulnerable children continue education and minimize dropout rate that may emanate as a result of families financial problems. To meet this objective, the club had been exerting efforts to utilize resources from the school community. Teachers and students have been contributing some amount of money to feed and provide school materials for 10 poor children. However, due to the large number of needy children, it was absolutely beyond our capacity to address the demands. As a result, a large number of destitute children were forced to drop out of school or shown poor school performance. Fortunately, IFSO came to the scene with its innovative intervention scheme that has focused in supporting and strengthening the school’s social welfare club. Accordingly, after making a need assessment, IFSO purchased materials such as refrigerator, bread oven, kettle and flour with the aim of capacitating the club to generate its own income through small business activity such as preparing and selling tea, bread and sandwich. Since then, the Welfare Club stands on its feet in terms generating income to meet its objective, which has enabled the Club to provide one meal a day and cover the school material costs of 80 poor children. This has helped the children to attend classes properly and minimize dropout rate of the school. In addition, based on the good lesson we have drown from IFSO, we have tried to reach more needy children through the provision of shoeshine box for 10 children in order to enable the generate their own income to address their financial problem by their own.
The school Social Welfare Clubs is thankful to IFSO for its valuable and strategic support which has proved to be most effective in addressing the needs of poor school children in a sustainable manner. We believe that such interventions can be replicated to similar school settings to reach more needy children.Endalech Haile .
Chairwoman of the Welfare Club
Case 1: The case of Banchu (the mother of a student at ABE)
My name is Banchu Ebabu and I am living in the Southwest of Addis Ababa, Hanamariam area. My husband passed away before our daughter reached the age of one. Since then, I have been responsible for caring and supporting my daughter. I have been engaged as a daily laborer to win our daily bread. I and my daughter are living in a private rented house. When my daughter reached at the age of seven, I was not able to place her to formal school because there was no school near to our residential areas and could not afford to cover costs related to education such as stationery materials and school uniform. Thanks to IFSO, all these problems have been solved and my daughter, Tigist, who is now 13 years old and physically disabled, is attending in ABE center established by IFSO in or area. In the current academic year (2008 E.C), Tigist is a second level student. IFSO’s contribution in the areas of creating access to education for orphan and vulnerable children who actually were not able to join formal schools is very much appreciable. The ABE center is more important for physically disabled children, like that of mine, who are not able to travel long distance to attend formal school. I am very grateful for IFSO’s assistance in creating access to education for my daughter as well many other needy children.
Mulu Eshetu an intelligent country girl(Ambassel Woreda)
Until I was turned four, I stayed with my parents. However, while I was at the same age, I was taken to my aunt’s home who had no her own offspring for she was barren. At the age of 7, I started my education at the nearby primary School named Birkuma Primary School with the support of my whole family where I completed 6th grade and promoted to grade 7. At that moment in time, I lost both of my parents due to unexpected death. This was the time which put my life in a difficult and complicated situation. This was the time where I have started to think of my future fate in the absence of my beloved parents. I had engrossed my mind with thoughts that were beyond my age. I started to contemplate how life is full of ups and downs and even I felt frightened whether the situation compels me to stop attending school. Following the death of my parents, I felt deeply desperate and mourned for 40 days. But with the encouragement of my brothers and teachers, I resumed my education and took the 8th grade national exam in which I passed to grade 9 with good results. Unfortunately, there was no a nearby secondary school where I can continue my higher education and my thought was divided in to two: to continue or quit school.
While I was in such circumstances, I heard good news which helped me to change my life’s direction for the better. The news was that a non- governmental organization named “Integrated Family Service Organization” has provided opportunity for rural girls with good academic performance of 8th grade to continue higher education by staying at the Girls’ hostel established for the purpose. Fulfilling the criteria, I was selected as one of these girls from Kebele 015 and joined other 29 girls who have come from all over the Woreda.
I will not forget that time, which recovered my dead hope and enabled me to see beyond the horizon and longing to see tomorrow with bright expectation. The support provided by IFSO has helped me to reach the stage where I am now and preparing myself to take the 12th grade National Examination soon. Furthermore, the opportunity helped me to keep myself from physical and moral abuse that occur in most of rural girls and lead a properly groomed life.
Today, my hope is great and full of inspiration. I am pretty much sure that I will complete my secondary education with commendable result and look forward to lead better life as any Ethiopian woman successful in life. This organization (IFSO) has also relived my relatives who were financially poor to help me but used to worry about my fate. In addition, other 29 girls of my equal are getting similar support in the girls’ hostel, which I lack words to express my gratefulness and respect as well.
The staff of the organization, who are with us day in day out, deserve special thanks for their commitment and dedication. May Almighty God bless Wro Mekdes with health and long live for her noble deeds.
Alem Abera, entrepreneur mind woman
My name is Alem Abera . I was born and raised in Wochale Town. I attended my school up to grade six. But, I was forced to quit school and get married and gave birth to 3 kids. I had a nice and happy life with my husband. Unfortunately, all of a sudden, our marriage came in to end because of due to a conflict. After our divorce, raising the children and taking care of the house became my sole responsibility because my husband had taken all the property we owned together. Life was really very horrible for us amidst an abject poverty. But, I did not sit and complain rather started to borrow money from rich people in our locality to engage in small business activity-selling grains. Then, I would pay back the principal and make use of the profit I made to maintain our living. In one of those days, I heard that an organization called Integrated Family Service Organization was lending 3000 birr as a revolving loan. Accordingly, I was selected as one of the beneficiaries and received the amount mentioned.
When I got the money, I strengthened my small business and started generating sufficient income to support my family. As a result, my life has been changed from worse to the better. All my three kids are enrolled in school. The eldest one is in 10th grade, the middle one is in 6th grade and the youngest is in 1st grade.
On the other hand, I was able to purchase household materials ( TV, cupboard, utensils) and renovate my house as well. I also rented a store for my business which I pay birr 115.00 per month. In general, I have now birr 14,000.00 in cash and in kind after paying back my loan. Therefore, I want to thank the organization that stood beside me when I was need of help.