We’ve been working with our partner organisation Life in Abundance Ethiopia to transform lives in the Woreda 1 slum area of Addis Ababa, home to a community of people affected by leprosy. The project is making a difference through a combination of improved housing and sanitation, employment and micro-credit opportunities, as well as self-care training to prevent disability. One key aspect of our work there has been the building of a new kindergarten for the community – helping ensure that the poorest of the poor have access to education.
Until recently, the only state-run (i.e. non fee-paying) school in the area didn’t have the capacity to accommodate all the local children, meaning that many were forced to stay at home, missing out on learning and play and facing the dangers of being left alone while their parents went out to work. Some children were also being taken out on to the streets to beg.
Previously, with no childcare available for the youngest children in Woreda 1, many women have had to stay at home to care for them, meaning that they cannot work. For families living in such abject poverty, a parent not working frequently means the family must go hungry, increasing their risk of malnutrition and illness.
The kindergarten is now open and already having a huge impact on the lives of people affected by leprosy and their families.
Parents are happy to have a state pre-school facility near to their homes – for them, there are now no more worries about choosing between paying for school or simply not going. Their children are safe there, no longer deprived of early years education and enjoying modern facilities and equipment. Importantly for children so young, the focus is on learning through play and age appropriate activities.
And it’s not just the pupils who are experiencing the benefits of the kindergarten. Parents of younger children are now free to work and earn a living to support their families, and they no longer have to worry about the safety of children left at home or taken out onto the streets to work.
Staff and parents now have plenty of plans for the kindergarten’s future, including securing support so that the most vulnerable children will be provided with uniforms and school materials, and working with parents to improve opportunities for employment.