‘I have 29 children’: The ‘mothers’ to Ethiopia’s most vulnerable kids

CNN

The group, whose name translates as “Light from the stars,” works with other civil society organizations on projects such as renovating an early childhood development center, where children are taught Amharic and English.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (CNN) — On the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in the dusty crowded neighbourhood of Akaki, I’ve just been treated to a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. The beans are roasted and the coffee boiled in front of you then served piping hot with a heaping spoonful of sugar and a side of freshly popped corn.

As I step out onto the dirt road to leave, one of my hosts wants to ask a question: do I know anyone who can donate some wheelchairs, so adults don’t’ have to carry disabled children on their backs to school any more?

I wish I did.

The woman who needs the wheelchairs is one of the 20,000 volunteers for Yekokeb Berhan, a USAID-funded program trying to help half a million highly vulnerable children. The name means “Light from the Stars” in Amharic, and is meant to reflect the resiliency of children.

After spending a week working with the volunteers here, I have no doubt those wheelchairs are going to find their way, due to the resiliency of the adults.

Yekokeb Berhan volunteers are chosen by community committees and given training in health, parenting, budgeting and life skills. Then they go out into communities, to find and identify the most vulnerable children. Each volunteer will take in 25 of those kids as her own.

“I have 29 children” says Sintayehu Kenna, a mother of four (plus 25), “I can’t separate them from my own. I love them. ”

The program’s philosophy is that the way to help children is to help their families. More often than not, assistance is needed in multiple areas — and that means these volunteers have had to become master networkers — calling on friends, family, neighbours, local businessmen and faith leaders to get the kids what they need. Read more on CNN

Ethiopia launches Rotavirus vaccine

A smiling child after receiving the first Rotavirus Vaccine in Ethiopia
A smiling child after receiving the first Rotavirus Vaccine in Ethiopia

The Federal Ministry of Ethiopia launches Rotavirus Vaccine at Zewditu hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This momentum in increasing efforts to reduce child mortality is a showcase to the country’s commitment to improve children’s health and survival. Ethiopia has recently become one of the countries who have achieved the Millennium Development Goal four of reducing child mortality by two thirds (MDG4), three years in advance.  

The event was marked by the presence of Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Kesetebirhan Admasu and representatives from A.A city Administration Health bureau, WHO, GAVI alliance, PATH, CHAI, and the media. “The introduction of Rota vaccine will help Ethiopia consolidate its gain in reducing Infant mortality and end preventable child deaths” said Dr. Kesetebirhan in his opening remark. He stressed on the importance of partnership on Ethiopia’s Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI) and acknowledged the support of UNICEF, GAVI Alliance, WHO, PATH, CHAI & others.

Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Deputy Representative to Ethiopia, speaks  On the Occasion of the launch of Rotavirus Vaccine introduction in Ethiopia
Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Deputy Representative to Ethiopia, speaks On the Occasion of the launch of Rotavirus Vaccine introduction in Ethiopia

Rotavirus, the most common cause of severe and fatal diarrhea in young children worldwide, takes the lives of more than 28,000 Ethiopian children under five each year. “Today, with this important new vaccine we have a golden opportunity to strengthen our efforts to advance innovative and appropriate approaches to reach the un-reached children; to further build the capacity of health workers, to expand cold chain capacity and to most importantly to renew our collective advocacy to mobilize communities to reap the benefits of routine immunization.” said Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Deputy Representative to Ethiopia

Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Keseteberhan Admassu launches Rotavirus Vaccine introduction by giving the first drops to a child  at Zewditu hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Keseteberhan Admassu launches Rotavirus Vaccine introduction by giving the first drops to a child at Zewditu hospital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Before the end of the event Dr. Kesetebirhan was joined by the high level delegation of partners to vaccinate children in the hospital.

See pictures form the launch here.

Joint GAVI, Ministry of Health, UNICEF and WHO media release “Millions of Ethiopian Children to be Protected Each Year Against Leading Cause of Severe Diarrhoea – Ethiopia becomes the 17th country to introduce rotavirus vaccine with support of GAVI partners”

Patrizia Di Giovanni (UNICEF Deputy Representative to Ethiopia) speech during the launch of Rotavirus Vaccine introduction

Ethiopia celebrates Global Handwashing Day

By Demissew Bizuwork

Global Handwashing Day celebrated at Menilik II Preparatory School, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Global Handwashing Day 2013 was celebrated in Ethiopia on 1st November 2013 under the theme “More than just a day-The power is in your hands”

Global Handwashing Day 2013 was celebrated in Ethiopia on 1st November 2013 under the theme “More than just a day-The power is in your hands”. The event was colourfully marked in Menelik II Primary School where officials from the Federal Ministry of Health, UNICEF, partner organizations, religious leader`s, and the school community all came together putting the emphasis on the importance of Handwashing with soap at critical times.

Washing Hands with soap can reduce the risk Diarrhoea by up to 45%
Washing Hands with soap can reduce the risk Diarrhoea by up to 45%

Though Handwashing is a simple practice, global facts indicate that an estimated 1,400 children under five die every day from diarrhoeal diseases caused by a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene. In Ethiopia, diarrhoea accounts for 14 per cent of child deaths or an average of 106 children every day. Diarrhoea is also the second largest cause of under-five mortality both globally and in Ethiopia

Led by the renowned artist Sileshi Demissie, who is also hygiene and environmental activist, the school kids performed very enticing songs and drama on Handwashing. Officials and students alike were also involved in the easy to do task of Handwashing demonstration so that the behavior would be practiced regularly by the school children.

Ethiopia aims to ensure access to basic sanitation for all citizens by 2015, with 80 per cent of communities declared open defecation free, and that 77 per cent of the population practice Handwashing at critical times. Deputy Representative of UNICEF Ethiopia Ms Patrizia Di Giovanni on her message stressed that UNICEF is supporting the Federal Ministry of Health to develop National Handwashing Communication Guidelines. The guidelines will help mobilize mass interest among communities, especially children and youth, in making Handwashing with soap or ash a national social norm.

See pictures from the event here http://www.flickr.com/photos/unicefethiopia/sets/72157637186520184

News coverage by Ethiopian Television

Speech by Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Deputy Representative to Ethiopia, on the day http://www.unicef.org/ethiopia/events_13880.html

Essence of vital events registration: Ethiopia established Vital Events Registration Agency

The Ethiopian Herald

Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, makes a speech at the National Conference on Vital Events Registration
Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia, makes a speech at the National Conference on Vital Events Registration

Pursuant to a proclamation on the registration of vital events and national identity card (Proclamation No. 760/2004), the government has decided to establish Vital Events Registration Agency by the decision of Council of Ministers, Regulation No. 278/2005, which is accountable to the Ministry of Justice. The proclamation indicates that establishing a system of registration of vital events plays a key role in planning political, social and economic developments, in providing various social and economic services to citizens and in making the justice administration expedient and effective.

To this effect, available sources show that registration and records of vital events are intended primarily as legal documents of direct interest to the person concerned. From those official records, evidentiary proof of the occurrence of a vital event and its characteristics can be made by a civil registrar or any other designated authority. Each certificate constitutes testimony of the particulars set forth therein in all courts of law and public offices. There is a wide variety of circumstances, legal and administrative, for which a certified copy of the legal record of live birth, fetal death, death, marriage and divorce is usually required. Fetal deaths, however, are mostly recorded for statistical purposes rather than for legal purposes.

United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative Dr. Peter Salama said that civil registration is not just about identity cards- it is rather a pre- requisite for measuring equity monitoring trends and evaluating impact and outcomes of broader development programmes, such as the MDGs and the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).

“While some progress has been made, there is still an enormous gap in registering vital events especially birth registration. According to the Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey of 2005, birth registration of children under the age of five was around 7 per cent, meaning that 9 out of 10 Ethiopian children remain unregistered,” said Dr. Peter.

As this crucial task is embarked on, Dr. Peter emphasized on three key points. First, birth registered is every child’s right. As stipulated in Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of Child: “every child has the right to be registered at birth without discrimination.” Birth registration, was recognized as central to ensuring children’s right— rights to name, identity and nationality. Ethiopia was among the first countries to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). However, with no proof of age or identity, Ethiopian children and young people may be seen as attractive ‘commodities’ and subject to child trafficking across the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf. Nor will they have even the minimal protection that a birth certificate provides against early marriage, child labour or detention and prosecution as an adult. Read more

Also read full speech by Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia at the event.

Working for the voiceless

Following the expansion of means of doing business and economy across the globe, actors effectively running all sorts of activities, labour or manpower in clear terms, is badly needed to fulfill the economic needs and generate capital with high production. Obviously, not all economic systems and enterprises are capable of using advanced technology in the process of coming up with great business and productions for higher productivity. To this effect, children and teenagers enter the risk of being used as cheap labour. Most of, the majority we can say, the children are vulnerable to such unbearable challenges due to poverty, the consequences stemming from broken family, among others. Worse even, they are unaware of their rights, overworked, can’t resist and they don’t know what kind of negative repercussions can they get after all work they are told to do at workplaces.

All forms of work by children under the age laid down in International Labour Organization (ILO) standards (normally 15 years or the age of completion of compulsory schooling subject to some exceptions) are considered as child labour, basically. According to this organization, the worst forms of child labour include: slavery, debt bondage, prostitution, pornography, forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, use of children in drug trafficking and other illicit activities, and all other work likely to be harmful or hazardous to the health, safety or morals of girls and boys under 18 years of age. Read more.

International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction 2013

By Demissew Bizuwork

International Day of Disaster Risk Reduction was marked in Ethiopia with the theme “including persons with disabilities in disaster reduction” on the 11 October 2013. Commemorating the day an event which was organized by the Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector (DRMFSS), the Ministry of Agriculture and partner organizations, discussed relevant policy and legal frameworks, approaches, as well as good practices related with disaster and disability.

Sylvie Chamois welcomes a visitor to the UNICEF stand at International Disaster Risk Reduction Day Ethiopia
Sylvie Chamois welcomes a visitor to the UNICEF stand at International Disaster Risk Reduction Day Ethiopia ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Sewunet

As a side event was an exhibition in which UNICEF and other partners participated. UNICEF took the opportunity to showcase the role of its nutrition programme in reducing disaster risks. UNICEF promotes and protects the nutritional status of children and mothers in emergency prone country such as Ethiopia to ensure better resilience and faster recovery.

International Day of the Girl Child

By Demissew Bizuwork

dayofthegirlGirls, boys, teachers, education officials, parents and members of partner organizations all marched on the streets of Addis Ababa to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child on Friday October 11, 2013. Accompanied by the rhythm of the Police marching band, the mass walk all the way from the Bureau of Education, to the Janmeda youth centre. The streets also came alive with colourful banners bearing messages such as “getting girls in school is yours, mine and everyone’s responsibility”  “let’s Retain girls in school” “Innovating for Girls Education”

Following the walk, officials from the Ministry of Education, UNICEF, UNESCO and other partners reviewed progress on girls’ education in Ethiopia. The panel highlighted the challenges on girls’ education and proposed suggestions for improving access, retention and achievement of girls through primary, secondary and tertiary education. Furthermore, some strategies for retaining girls in school such as peer support programmes, additional teacher support as well as linkages among girls at primary with those in secondary, among secondary with those in tertiary were shared.

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UNICEF celebrates International Day of the Girl Child