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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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“Thanks to my new job, today my life has changed radically”

Kafile Asrat, 23 years old.
Debrezague, Oromia, Ethiopia

His mind has erased all living memory of his parents. People say that they died when he was a baby. The truth is when he was just 6 months old he was separated from his mom, because everybody in the family believed that she was suffering from a transmittable disease.

This is why Kafile ended up just living in the “neighborhood”.

Of his childhood, Kafile remembers the sad and hard times mostly characterized by abuse: physical aggression and all the nights without eating.

This situation led Kafile to run away from home. He fled to Fiche, a small town located in the Oromia region. As soon as he arrived, yet another difficult stage began in Kafile’s life.

Living conditions went from difficult to complete abandonment and hunger. He was homeless living in the courtyard of a house with just one blanket suffering at the hands of child exploitation. He worked as a shipper, earning around 0.50 birr (8 cents) per day.

Kafile doesn’t remember how long he was exploited, but thinks even one day is too long. In 2008, he left Fiche for Addis Ababa to find better opportunities and hopefully a better life. One day, he met the Ray Asssociation through a friend. Ray Association is a group of youths located in Yeka sub city, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. The Ray Association specializes in milk, eggs and vegetable production. Ray Association has partnered with Mary Joy since 2007 and has 12 members. Ray Association supports its members with income generating activities training, book keeping, and other life skills.

Kafile is responsible for milking the cows. Each day, the organization’s dairy cows produce around 50 liters of milk, in addition to around 300 eggs and vegetables depending on the season. The youth sell the products to five local hotels and Yeka neighbors.

“Thanks to my new job, today my life has changed radically,” he says.

He works in humane conditions and doesn’t feel like he is being exploited. He is economically independent for the first time in his life and earns around 600 birr every month. In addition, he has the opportunity to go to school, and today he is in the third grade.

”Education is the best and safest way to change our lives,” he says.

In September 2009, thanks to his personal success, he brought his sister from his hometown of Debrezague. After a childhood and adolescence similar to her brother’s, she is now 19 years old in the eighth grade.

Although every month food and school fees for him and his sister demand more than half of hissalary, Kafile is happy because he believes the most important expenses are covered. “We need to encourage all the people, especially the youth, to work hard,” he says.