The lack of education creates a high illiteracy rate and contributes heavily to poverty; however, there are other dangers waiting for children who are not at their desks—including sexual abuse, unwanted pregnancy, child prostitution, and a vicious cycle of poverty and street life.
There are thousands of street children nationally, with a further one million vulnerable or at risk of ending up on the streets. Girls who work and live in the streets face sexual abuse by adults, rape, unwanted pregnancy and early motherhood – sometimes as young as 12. These girls are likely to join the rank of child prostitutes or street mothers and continue the vicious circle of street life. Inevitably, they are highly at risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS. It is estimated that there are 10,000 street mothers in Addis Ababa.
There are a number of reasons why children in Ethiopia do not stay in school, ranging from inability to pay for supplies and required child labor to support the family. Awake & Alive is committed to giving children an opportunity to attend school and protect that opportunity through holistic support of the child’s family and health.
Education = Opportunity
Better education leads not only to higher individual income but is also a necessary (although not always sufficient) precondition for long-term economic growth.
Broad based education is the only avenue to give poor countries the human capital boost necessary to bring large segments of the population out of poverty.
For international policymakers, more and better education should become the top priority because it empowers the people to help themselves and thus helps to improve governance and to reduce corruption. A concerted effort for much more primary and secondary education combining national and international forces would appear to be the most promising route out of poverty and toward sustainable development.
Clearly, education is the backbone of success and the tool that pulls individuals, and entire countries, out of poverty. Awake & Alive utilizes a multi-faceted approach to educate orphans and widows in Ethiopia. By partnering with established Ethiopian organizations that provide education, Awake & Alive enables Ethiopian orphans and half orphans to access quality education that can change their lives and generations to come.
In addition, the mothers of the half orphans enrolled in the school receive basic health education and medical treatment (including regular physicals). These mothers are the only chance the children have of maintaining a normal family structure and help ensure that the children remain in school and on track. That is why the lives and health of the widows in the program are so crucial to Awake & Alive.