Together in Hope is supporting Irish organization Youth Release in its efforts,providing educational and psychosocial support to Orphaned and Vulnerable children living in Dire Dawa Ethiopia. The main aim of the organization is to support local organizations in the developing world to provide services to marginalized and vulnerable youth. In September 2011, Youth Release opened a youth center to facilitate programs targeted at rehabilitation, social support, school reintegration, educational support and health support for orphaned and vulnerable children.
There are a number of children in Dire Dawa who are not able to attend school because of the extreme level of impoverishment they live in. Many children have been forced to drop out of school and work to support their families. Through the educational support program at the youth center, children are given uniforms, and the necessary school materials to attend the local schools. To date, over 300 children have been able to go back to school and get a primary education. The program has also organized tutorial classes to assist the children who are behind in their classes. Local experienced school teachers and volunteers are currently organizing this program. The tutorial classes have about 150 children attending these classes at present. For children who have not had the opportunity to attend school, non formal education classes have been organized.
Most orphaned and vulnerable children face different health problems due to several reasons. Some of the health problems are associated with poor personal hygiene, poor diet and other related problems. For those that live on the street, they face extreme health problems such as pneumonia. They also face other health problems due to addiction to alcohol, chat (local drug) chewing, and smoking. The youth center facilitates free medical care to the children. Children are also given counseling to help them overcome many of the problems they face; many children have experienced abuse and are unable to talk about it within the home. Through the counseling program children learn how improve their interpersonal skills, communication and evaluate their interactions with others, to become aware of self-isolation and making decisions about the best way to deal with people.
Micro Credit Program:
Most families of the children attending the youth center in Genda Tesfa earn their income through non formal business, such as, selling fire wood, working as house maids, selling cooked food, preparing and selling of local brew, prostitution and the like. One of the problems that the families of vulnerable children face is lack of access to financial services and capital to improve their present businesses. In order to assist households to establish income generation activities and improve their entrepreneurship skill, the project will facilitate the establishment of saving and credit groups (through revolving fund scheme) for families of vulnerable children who have the experience and skill. This program has been requested by leaders of the Genda Tesfa Community for three years as they feel it is the only way for families to support their own and to empower the community.