Richard and his wife visited Harrar Village in Ethiopia twelve years ago and have been supporters ever since. Richard wrote to us and asked to hear more about our work there. Here, we introduce you to two children’s whose lives were transformed by supporters like Richard.
The eastern city of Harrar is one of Islam’s four Holy Cities. Despite its historical status, many children grow up in poverty, suffer from malnutrition, and go without food and water. Our Village provides the most vulnerable with a loving home and a happy, healthy childhood.
“I would like to hear about the progress being made at your SOS Village at Harar in eastern Ethiopia. My wife & I visited Ethiopia in 2003 and a night or two in Harar with a visit to the Village in Harar were on the itinerary. We were both most impressed with the work you were doing there; I have been a supporter of SOS Children’s Villages ever since.”
A happy home after losing everything
Mimi was born into a family of farmers in Adessa, one of southern Ethiopia’s driest and most inhospitable regions. When she lost parents in horrific circumstances, her future looked bleak…
When she was just three years old, Mimi’s father was killed in a conflict with neighboring Somalis. A year later, malaria took her mother. Even before her parents died, life was lived on a razor’s edge. Adessa is prone to drought and food insecurity, and the family’s farming lifestyle consisted of making long journeys in search of grazing land for their livestock.
When she became an orphan, an aunt took Mimi and her baby brother in, but times became even harder. Mimi’s aunt was already struggling to feed her own four children and with food scarce and money tight, the children were forced to survive on porridge and milk.
Looking out for one another
As their aunt struggled more and more, and the children became increasingly undernourished, the local authorities stepped in and Mimi and her brother were offered a new home at the Children’s Village in Harrar.
Life for five-year-old Mimi was transformed. She immediately embraced her SOS mother and her new brothers and sisters. “I love my family, I belong with my family. I just love [it] when we sit around our beautiful table to share a meal – it is my best moment!” she says.
Today, Mimi is 12, and she’s an active participant in family life. She loves caring for her baby sister, who’s just joined the family after being found abandoned under a bush. Mimi cradles her, talks to her and sings to her. “I like spending time with my sister. I am her big sister and I have to protect her. I always make sure she is okay. My mother says we look out for one another.”
Adjusting to a new home
Samuel and his two brothers lost their parents to HIV/AIDS when Samuel was just five. Bloated with starvation, they joined the Village in Harrar the following year. But burdened with such horrific memories, Samuel struggled to acclimatise…
When Samuel and his two brothers were orphaned by HIV/AIDS, Samuel was just five years old. His older brother Natnael dropped out of school to look after Samuel and three-year-old Yohannes, but for two years they ate little more than the one meal a day provided by a kindly neighbor.
By the time he reached six, Samuel’s little body was bloated with hunger and his legs too weak to carry him. Each day, he would wake hungry and go to bed hungry.
The situation was desperate, but eventually, their neighbor sought help from Harrar Village. Samuel and his younger brother joined an SOS family at the Village, while Natnael went on to join a foster family.
At first, Samuel found it hard to mix with the other children. “I did not know what to expect when I first came here,” he says. “I just stared at people. I could not interact with other children and I did not speak to anyone. I always felt tired.”
Over time, he grew more confident. “Gradually, I started feeling stronger, and then I became my natural self.”
Several years after joining the Village, Samuel’s younger brother Yohannes was diagnosed HIV positive. However, he is getting regular anti-retroviral treatment and regular check-ups. Now in safe hands, both brothers look forward to a bright future.
Source: SOS Children’s Villages