Ethiopia - history

Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa. It's one of the ancient civilizations, with rich historical heritages. The country had experienced monarchial states for centuries; however, in 1974 the military junta took over power from the late Emperor Haile-Selassie; later itself defeated by rebel fighters EPRDF in 1991. Since then Ethiopia begun to experience a multi-party political system, with it the private sector start to flourish.

A nation with over 83 million people (second populous in the continent), speaking about 70 different languages, nearly 63% of its population lives below poverty line. Ethiopia still is categorized one the poorest nations on the planet. Paradoxically, however, the country is endowed with tremendous natural resources & favorable climate that could be potentially tapped into to create wealth & prosperity for its deprived majority.

Gender based violence and child abuse makes it difficult for the society to attain quality of life. HIV/AIDS still is a serious threat that leaves over 1 million children orphan. Though access to primary education in general shows a positive improvement; at secondary/tertiary level a significant number of children/youth drops out. Quality and relevance of education to prepare youngsters to job market remains to be a huge challenge!

In general, the problem in the country is vast and complex. The major ones are: poor health status, low income (per capita income for the country is 360 US $), population boom, illiteracy, the private sector poorly developed, and some negative cultural barriers to promote development.

However, besides the poverty Ethiopia is a country full of surprises with extreme beautiful rough nature, lakes, hot springs, fauna, numerous religions, churches and monasteries, delightful food and the best coffee of the world, hearty, proud and colorful people with their always smiling faces and a very rich culture and history. This country in the horn of Africa is certainly worth to visit and will overwhelm everyone with its unexpected and fascinating power and magnificent beauty.

Background Holeta Town (where our main project is situated)

Holeta town with a population of over 45,000 inhabitants, is only 40 km away from the capital, where it should benefit from a fast growing infrastructural development. For long the area has been known as suitable for farming and many flower farms are found nearby. However, over the last few decades the situation has gotten worse due to a number of socio-economic factors like:

1. Military base: Around 1950, the Imperial Military Academy was set up at Holeta. A large presence of the military ever since induced a number of 'illicit activities' such as liquor bars, prostitution, and so forth; which had not been the case long before. The officers would temporarily start families only to abandon them later, when they were relocated to other bases. As a result, abandoned families with children facing the harsh living conditions has become reality.

2. Rural-urban migration: Every year several families move from the neighboring rural villages to Holeta town in search for a better life. Their expectation fails when they are met with rising prices while they do not have sufficient income. The major pushing factor for these group of people is: shortage of farmlands at their home villages. This is so, because unregulated population increment has put lots of pressure over productive land, which has te be continuously divided for generations. Family disintegration and separation is often a common problem as instability and social crises persist. 

3. Flower farms: The expansion of flower farms around Holeta has contributed into two ways. One is, the original landowners were evicted (or made to leave) after they receive a very meager compensation package. Neither there was assistance rendered for these farmers to resort into some other productive activity. Second to that, flower farms do not pay fair wage (0.7 USD/day is common practice) and the working condition is neither favorable working with toxic chemicals. Several cases of sexual abuse & mistreatment against working girls and young mothers were reported, caused by ignorance & very poor labour conditions.

4. HIV-AIDS: According to the town's Health bureau, HIV prevalence rate is among the highest compared to other towns in the Oromia region. This may have been attributed to the above social imbalances & unstable families. Despite the free access to ART services, orphans due to HIV related death is high.

5. Polygamy: It is customary for a large number of married men to have multiple partners. This would put women and children at very high risk. As the women is mostly dependent financially on the man, they hardly afford to live a very basic life once the man abandons her. The situation takes a more grim picture when looking at children. In times of family breakage, children are expected to follow the mother who will not be definitely in a position to give proper care and protection.  

6. Mothers search for a better life: A lot of mothers go to Arabic countries to find themselves a job leaving their husband and children behind and sometimes there is no contact at all and they never come back.

These are the main reasons that the Holeta town population, the children and their families needs ours support. Therefore Rose Land Child Development organization has initiated to launch the 'child care and education' project with special emphasis on strengthening the capacity of families, more particularly that of women in this town. Through this approach, we believe, we can shape the future of disadvantaged children. We do this inspired by Love and Care to those who needs it most and we ask them to actively improve their living conditions by working hard in so called Self Help Groups that we established. The Self Help Groups learn a profession like handicraft preparation or agriculture by following trainings and by listening to and inspiring each other.

"A single hand can't clap, together we can make the difference!"