Wednesday, August 31, 2011

IOFA in Ethiopia: Support for Youth Aging out of Alternative Care Severely Lacking

With the overwhelming support from grassroots organizations in Ethiopia for IOFA's Transitions Initiative, the past week in Addis Ababa has been a successful one. Non-governmental organizations across missions are recognizing that the transitional period between adolescence and adulthood is one of the most critical stages in a young person’s life, particularly for those young people who have lived most of their lives in orphanages or other forms of institutionalized care. Many of our initial conversations, however, with organizations on the ground, confirm that the amount of support available to these youth is severely lacking. We met this week with Executive Director of Kingdom Vision International, Eyob Kolcha, to hear firsthand the concern about youth leaving care with little or no support. Mr. Kolcha stated the following:

"What are these youths to do? We rescue them when they are young so that they can know love and care, so that they have shelter and food. But when they grow up, where does our attention go? How do we expect them to survive on their own when we have made them so dependent? We can do better. We must do better. This Transition Initiative is where we can start together."

Eyob is right. We can do better and we must do better. In the upcoming weeks, as we continue our work and research in Addis Ababa, we will focus specifically on knowing how we can do better and building the Transitions Initiative around the answers to that question.

Next, IOFA will be conducting focus groups with young people who are about to leave care and who have already left care and are living on their own. We will learn about their experiences and hear about their proposed solutions. IOFA's Transitions Initiative Ethiopia is taking shape!

More to come.

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