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.
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.
Leaving the Street Life Behind : Demekech Dejene’s Success Story
“When I was 14 I lost my parents due to reasons that I don’t know. My six brothers, my sister and I were left home alone. Fear and hopelessness took over, and we had nothing to do except look at our neighbors and wait for them to do something for us.”
Demekech Dejene, 15 years old, grew up in the city of Hawassa in Southern Ethiopia. Demekech dropped out of school when her mother was sick. He education had taken only as far as the second grade.
She always wanted to be a doctor, however, as the oldest of her siblings, she quickly found herself shouldering the responsibility of taking care of her brothers and her sister. After the death of her parents, she and her brothers moved in with extended family and even more children.
Life in her aunt’s house neither comfortable nor peaceful, because her aunt couldn’t afford to take care of the extra children. As time went on, Demekech and her aunt began fighting. Finally, her aunt kicked her out, and Demekech joined life on the street.
Street life was not as easy for Demekech as she expected. On the streets, she begged for food, smoked thrown-away cigarette butts and slept wherever she could.
At one point, Demekech was raped by a group of other street children and she became pregnant. When she was about to have the baby, she panicked. She hoped somebody would take care of her. Fortunately one of her mother’s friends found her and gave her shelter. Assefa Demekech had a baby girl, but still lacked everything that was essential for human life.
One day she received a visit from a community social worker and her life changed. One of her neighbors had reported her to a Mary Joy Development Association representative, and she joined the project supporting sexually victimized children, which is funded by the international NGO Save the Children.
Mary Joy helped her by providing her with medical, nutritional and psychosocial support.
“Street life is the worst scenario of the human experience. It is horrible and full of misery. Mary Joy really helped me get off the street to never return,” she says.
After a few months Demekech learned to cope with her stress and requested seed money to start her own business. Accordingly, the project supported her, and now she has a small business to earn a living wage. Demekech buys vegetables and other items from suppliers and resells them in her village. She earns enough to take care of her daughter, pay rent and lead a new life.
She never stopped thinking about the situation of her brothers and sister. Thanks to her, Mary Joy visited the home where her siblings live and observed many problems. Mary Joy, through its referral linkage network program, has referred the children to the World Food Program (WFP) and they now receive support.
Demekech’s life changed. She developed hope, and from her small business, from which she obtains the basic needs for her daughter, she knows she can be an independent woman. Due to her experiences on the street, she wants to help children on the street by advising them to rejoin their families under whatever circumstances.