Towards the end of our stay in Addis, we went to visit Hope for Children, an organisation supporting orphans, vulnerable children and families affected by HIV AIDS.
Six years ago, we’d raised money and brought donations of clothes from friends and family in Australia. On our last trip another good friend, Sylvana Panetta, had given us bags full of new clothes and blankets knitted by her mother and friends, packets of socks, underwear and frisbees. It was lovely to see some of the same children again, happy and healthy in their group homes and playing at their weekly get together in Shiromeda.
In Ethiopia, approximately 1.5 million people are living with HIV. Unicef estimates there are 4 million orphans in Ethiopia (12% of all children) and that more than half a million of these were orphaned because of AIDS.
Yewoinshet Masresha founded Hope for Children 10 years ago to support those children who had lost one or both parents to the disease. At the time, she was working with the Medical Missionaries of St Marys, one of the first organisations in Ethiopia to set up a counselling centre for people with HIV and AIDS.
“I was there for nine years as a social service worker. When parents died, we would find a way to care for the children,” says Yewoinshet. “The parents were asking me; ‘What will happen to my children?’ Our organisation was not able to take any more children than it already had, and so I founded my own.”