Ethiopia Education – Melese – an individual story

Ethiopia Education – Melese – an individual story


We have tended to focus on the news of specific projects in these newsletters – water projects, stories of schools or nurseries, approaches to agricultural or fishing enterprises. As a change, this story concerns one individual, Melese, living in Muketuri, Ethiopia. Meleses’s story exemplifies the degree to which individuals can be lifted out of difficult circumstances and allowed to thrive.

Melese had a difficult start to life. He was 3 when his grandmother took his newborn sister to the malnourishment program in Muketuri. The baby was severely malnourished, her mother having committed suicide after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Melese’s father was no longer on the scene and his grandmother had taken in the three children, but she needed help. She was living in poor conditions and our local partners built a house for her and the 3 children, while Melese and his older brother began attending the Mother and Child Centre. To add to his traumatic background, Melese’s older brother was then tragically killed when he fell from a tree he had been climbing and hit his head.

Six years after abandoning the children, his father decided to return to the house. And so continued Melese’s problems, as his father wanted him to take care of the animals and work in the field, whereas the young boy wanted to continue his studies. This led to Melese running away from home to live with an aunt, who took him in at first and gave him the opportunity to stay at home and study. However, over time she too began to force him to work at the house and wasn’t allowing him to attend school. Unfortunately, this meant Melese ran away again and began living on the street. He would attend school in the morning and then beg for alms for the rest of the day to get food and to pay somebody to let him stay in the railing of their house. 

This prompted the second intervention, and Melese was placed in the Kidane Meheret school. However, the army requisitioned the school, but a place was found for him at the L’Esperance boarding school in Akaki-Kality, where he successfully finished his grades and has been able to move on to the next level at a boarding school for boys in Desse.

Along with the support for his grandmother and sister, the story of Melese is one of making a real difference to one individual and one family. Equally, it is representative of the wider and ongoing support for the people of Ethiopia made possible by our sponsors, the importance of education for the future of a country torn apart by war, the difficulties of school closures, and of economic pressures. Melese’s story is a harrowing one, but is not unique – either in the loss of parents or the intervention and hope given by our project partners in the area.

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