ETHIOPIA: Breaking the cycle of poverty

Publication Date: 
July 06, 2011

Nearly three out of every four children in Ethiopia are deprived of an education. Many parents struggle to provide for their families by begging on the streets for food and money. Children are forced to do the same, and as a result sacrifice the chance to attend school.

In the city of Addis Ababa, a unique Salesian program is striving to break the cycle of poverty that has caused much hardship and suffering for generations. Through Donato's Children of the Beggars program, Salesian staff and social workers guide parents toward educational opportunities that will provide a brighter future for their children.

"For children whose parents are already begging on the street, education seems like a dream," explains Brother Cesare Bullo, director of the project development office in Ethiopia. "Our first step is to connect with the parents and guardians to introduce the value of education and how it can lead to a better life for their children – something every parent wants."

The efforts are paying off in a big way with 513 children currently enrolled in the program. Younger participants receive tutoring in the basic literacy and math skills needed to attend formal schooling, while adolescent children are trained in marketable job skills that will enable them to find employment and help provide for their families.

In addition to schooling and job training, there is another element that helps ensure the program's success. Brother Bullo explains, "We include free meals as an extra incentive for the children to study and for parents to encourage their children to attend class. We are committed to keeping children in the program and, by offering meals, the program represents a daily benefit to the family."

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