From Nikel Bailey, IOFA Program Development Intern:
Living in Addis Kidan Guesthouse in Ethiopia has been just as much of a learning experience as working in the field. Every week new people have moved into the house. Whenever a new person moves in, we are asked the same question: “What brings you to Ethiopia?” It has surprised me that everyone is doing some sort of work with orphaned youth in Addis. However, they are often working only with small and young children. When I explain to them what I am doing here in regards to the Transitions Initiative they often respond by saying:
· “Wow…this is fantastic…we worry about what will happen to these youth as they get older.”
· “Where will they go?”
· “Who will help them when they are too old to stay at the orphanage that I volunteer at?”
This feedback encourages me to learn as much as possible about the youth transitioning into adulthood here in Addis. As IOFA visits different organizations and we ask if anyone is focusing on this group of youth, we are consistently told:
"No one is doing anything."
The organizations are eager to establish some sort of center, referral program or network for this population. This is exactly what IOFA’s Transitions Initiative intends to do.
In the upcoming weeks, IOFA will conduct focus groups with youth who have left care or are about to leave care. Several organizations have referred youth to participate. We have translators that have experience in the social work field confirmed to assist throughout the focus groups. I am excited to hear the youth’s personal stories of how life is/was like for them once they left the care of an orphanage and what would have helped them during that transition. It is critical that the voices of youth are heard and that IOFA integrates this feedback and ideas directly into development of the the Transitions Initiative.
Visit IOFA-Talk soon to hear about the experiences of young people aging out care in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.