Today we visited the home of a boy named Eyob to speak to his mother. We were welcomed into a tiny house with two rooms. We assumed both of these rooms were hers, but soon discovered she lives in one room of about 2 square metres, separated from the other room with a blanket. She rents this for 400 birr a month, which comes from the 500 she is given by WAR per month.
She told us her story. We found out that she was adopted at a young age, and by the time she was 15 the adoptive mother had passed away. After her passing she was raped by her adoptive father, which is how she fell pregnant with Eyob. When he found out she was pregnant he left her, and as a resort she was driven to a life of prostitution in order to support herself and her son. We were horrified and saddened to discover that throughout this dark period in her life she had no one to turn to – no relatives and no friends. She didn't socialise with anyone, even isolating herself from Eyob at times, and she worries that he is now the same.
WAR found her wandering the streets of Addis one night and told her they were there to help her. She later decided to accept their offer, partially due to the fact that she wants to turn her own life around, but also because she desires a brighter future for her son and believes that he deserves better.
Eyob's mother is now 2 months into the rehabilitation stage of the programme, which involves counselling and a lot of psycho-social support. The skill which she would most like to develop with WAR is food preparation and she hopes to open a small restaurant in the future, so she is able to support both her needs and those of her son.
She spends her Saturdays doing washing for other people in her neighbourhood so she can earn money for food, and spends Sundays at church. The church has been very helpful to her, as although they have not provided her with help in a material form, they have given her the opportunity to pray and seek advice when there are things in life which she does not understand.
Overall, although we were all deeply saddened by her story and the trauma which followed for her, we were very happy to hear that she is making progress so swiftly due to her courage and determination. The staff at WAR seem to have huge amounts of faith in her, as they do with many other women on the programme. She seemed incredibly grateful for every opportunity she has been given, and it was touching to witness how joyful she was at our small gift of oil, sugar and pasta.
We are all hugely thankful that we had the opportunity to speak to this wonderful woman, particularly as it has given us so much context for working with the children throughout the rest of the week.
Group 3 visited the home of a girl on thier class named Salam, despite knowing that the conditions would be shocking, going to the home and entering their reality made the whole experience become real and slightly overwhelming. We were welcomed by Salams mother, a protitute of 10 years who has now been on the WAR programme for 3 months. The small 4 x 6 metre room was home to 7 people until recently as Salams grandmother passed away. Salam and her brother have to sleep and live in the same room as their mother, her two sisters who remain in protitution and one brother. We spoke to the mother and she opened up about her story
She revealed she was actually born in the room we were sitting in and had never moved, her mother was also a prostitute and resulting in her being brought up watching her and the way she worked. She began to become emotional when talking about the future of Salam and her younger brother, the heart warming thing about the visit, despite it being saddening was that Salams mother is now working hard to change the life for their family telling us she had already seen a change in the children and their happiness. The home visit made us think about all the children in the school and how all of them will have a different story but equally things are improving for all of them due to the work of WAR and this made us proud to be working with them this week.
Ella P and Heather - group 1
Ella Witt and Matilda M – group 3
Wednesday dawned much brighter than Tuesday weather-wise, and we were greeted by the same smiling faces on arrival at the school. The day followed much the same pattern re programme, and everyone has had a great day doing more lessons, games and activities. There is an extra dimension to our work having heard more about Women At Risk yesterday evening when Seble and Berekte came to talk with us about the organisation, and now that we know more background to the children, and have heard about the impact our visit makes on those little lives, it has made us more determined than ever to give them a wonderful memorable love-filled week.
two more team went on home visits today, and you'll read about those tomorrow, but for now enjoy some more photos of today's activities!