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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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Starting from Scratch

Habtamu Shalemo’s Success Story

Location: Wukiro Sefere, Hawassa
Date:10 January, 2011
Activity: Beneficiary Visit
Story Writor: Wondwossen Mesele
Mary Joy Development Association

“I feel very sad when I think the death of my parents. It is the worst scenario for me.”

Habtamu Shalemo is a 13 year-old boy. He lives in Hawassa, the capital of Ethiopia’s Southern Nations Regional State. His family rents a small house in a neighborhood called Wukiro Sefere. Habtamu has two sisters, and currently he lives with his older sister, who is 15 years old and takes care of Habtamu because they lost their biological parents when they were younger.

He attends school at Ethiopia Tikidem Elementary and is currently in the third grade. Despite the pressing socio-economic challenges of the family, Habtamu remains strong and is a clever and outstanding student, first in his class.

Having lost the breadwinners of the family, Habtamu and his sister have were forced to face life’s problems on their own. They were not able to get basic needs such as food, clothing, health care and shelter, and for the last years, the absence of extended family has complicated their living situation even more. As a result, Habtu and his sister have been considered among the poor living in the village.

In spite of this scenario, he and his sister worked hard to avoid feelings of grief, depression and hopelessness. They tried to become self reliant. When Habtamu was just 10 years old, he started working as a shoe shine boy and sold sugarcane. Together with his sister, they shared sugar cane selling shifts to continue with their education and manage other household activities like cooking food, washing clothes, cleaning house, doing study and others.

Meanwhile Ethiopia Tikidem Elementary School, a primary stakeholders of Mary Joy Development Association, identified and referred Habtamu to the international NGO Save the Children. Habtamu was enrolled in a orphan and vulnerable children support program entitled “OVC Care and Support in the Rift Valley, Hawassa”. The project focuses on improving the lives of vulnerable children through empowerment. Accordingly, the project community workers and volunteers have done further assessment on him and his sister’s living situation. They have been included in the project database since early 2009. Based on this, he has received nutritional support, school uniform as well as subsistence and economic support including start up inputs from the organization.

Together with support of the organization, Habtamu and his siter’s shoe polishing and selling sugarcane activities generate an average monthly income of 560 birr (US$35), a considerable amount of money considering more than 75% of Ethiopia’s population live on less than US$2 per day.

It is a solid fact that life before was hard and it was difficult for Habtamu and his sister to earn enough money to pay for basic needs like food. However, gradually things changed, and their lives improved. Through this change, they become stronger and build self confidence. Today, Habtamu dreams of getting a degree from a higher education institution and thus attaining the ability to shoulder the responsibility of supporting an entire family.

It is evident that a positive change has occurred in Habtamu’s and his sister’s life. Today, he is able to cover house rent, clothing, medication, education and related expenses. Beyond the month’s costs, Habtamu saves 150 birr every month. His self esteem has increased and his academic performance has advanced further. His social interaction with peers and classmates has enhanced, and he is currently a member of the Scouts and actively participates in school clubs and child-initiative programs.

He also participates in discussion and sharing experiences with similar vulnerable children on how to cope up with their problems and support themselves. Above all, he loves himself and his sister, and enjoys a better life compared to the previous.

In addition, neighbors and people have encouraged him. Habtamu is appreciative of their efforts and motivation for him to become self-supportive and change his life. Habtamu started from scratch, but if he is encouraged, he will be even more successful.