Latest News

Ohio State University Visited Mary Joy

Ohio State University delegates unveiled their interest to partnership: The Ohio State University (OSU) delegates visited Mary Joy Development Association on December 9, 2012. The delegates encompass OSU’s professors, Deans and researchers. The visit was aimed to establish partnership between MJDA and OSU on community health outreach program, volunteer mobilization and in-service training programs. The delegates visited the MJDA medical center’s activities and integrated community development programs as well as discussion has been held among the team members and MJDA’s management on the focus of the partnership and sustainability of MJDA’s health programs. The visitors were accompanied by Professor Tirusew Tefera (Dean, College of Education and Behavioral Studies, Addis Ababa University) and Dr. Mekasha Kassaye (Assistant Professor in English Language Pedagogy and Higher Education Policy and Management) and Ethiopian Medical Student Association’s Executives.

Volunteers Recognition

On the 4th of February 2012, MJDA organized a Volunteers Recognition Event to publically recognize the contribution of 200 volunteers who have been actively participating during the last 5 years to achieve the organization’s objectives.

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When I Close My Eyes, I See My Mother

The Story of Fantahun Anagaw, now a Third Year Engineering Student at Addis Ababa University

It make’s me so proud when I think back on my childhood and the challenges I faced. I never thought I would make it. Today I am a confident person and I look forward to the future.

My name is Fantahun Anagaw, I am 20 yrs old. To begin with I never had a chance to meet or know my biological father and mother. My mother passed away when I was six months old, and my father was a soldier who traveled all around the country. My grandmother was not able to take care of me

The only relative I know is my uncle, who brought me to Addis Ababa from Debretabor, a town in the rural north of Ethiopia, after my mother’s funeral. She was his younger sister.

My uncle felt forced to take care of me as the nearest family member as wella s the most financially capable. He used to tell me he did it willingly because he loved his younger sister who never had any opportunity for an education and a better life. He told me she was clever and a visionary, since she sacrificed a lot for him to attend school because not all the children in their family was able to attend school.

So my uncle raised me in a small rented kebele house. He worked as a high school teacher and helped me become even cleverer. Life was easy and comfortable, and I felt loved and cared for. My teachers respected and encouraged me. I become an example for many children around my village.

“Look at him he is very clever and doesn’t have parents,” they used to say.

When I started grade five my uncle married his girlfriend of two years. Soon she gave birth, and I become the baby sitter. I could not attend school regularly, had less food, no new clothing, and life became more difficult when everyone at home started abusing me for reasons I could not explain. When I complained to my uncle he told me to be patient, but slowly became more abusive, saying he should not suffer because of me.

I had no where to go. I used to go to school without breakfast and sleep out side when the students eat their lunch. Some teachers who realized my problem gave me their leftovers. During those challenging time, I closed my eyes and imagined talking to my mother. I imagined a strong woman who loved her family and served them until she died.

I would talk to her and imagine her telling me: “be strong my child, I know you will make it.”

When I started grade 9 I was told to leave the house. My uncle accused me of not going to school and stealing food and money. I tried my best to convince them and explain my situation. Unfortunately no one seemed interested.

I collected my exercise books and left home. I had no one to talk to, so I went to a ditch near to my school and spent two nights. I told a teacher the situation I was in. He and other teachers brought food to me, but no one was capable of giving me shelter. Therefore I spend most nights in the ditch and few nights with the school guards if they were willing.

Over time somebody gave me shelter in the way of the family kitchen. It was a very small room made of mud with no insulation. Then teachers introduced me to families looking for a tutor considering my ability. Being a tutor represented a turning point for me as I realized that the opportunities that come with being an outstanding student.

I found three families that would pay me for my services. The jobs didn’t last long however because I was too dirty and couldn’t keep myself clean. I had no access to a bathroom and I had no clothing to change into. Two days after starting my new job, I was politely asked to leave.

At this point I had lost all hope. Everybody had forgotten me, even God. I decided to drop out of school and become a street boy. I continued to talk to my mother when I was lonely.

I told my teacher my decision to drop out of school and he told me not to give up. Thanks to my teachers, somebody from Mary Joy Development Association approached me. Finally somebody understood me and my situation. Once they saw my educational achievement, they didn’t hesitate to assist me.

Mary Joy gave me educational materials, they assigned me a peer mother to live with and care for me. Mary Joy also provided me with regular financial support as well as psychosocial support, which helped me build my confidence.

I felt so lucky. The support provided helped me focus on my education and I continued as the first-ranked student in my class. Motivated to be the best, I completed my high school education with high honors, and now I am a third year engineering student at Addis Ababa University.

In the future I will strive to be a responsible citizen and give back to those children who have lost their parents and the opportunity for an education. I do not want to see a children suffer the way I did.