Friday, July 20, 2012

Project Prepare Launched!

We had a very busy yet rewarding week in Addis as we implemented Project Prepare at two orphanages, AHOPE and Children’s Heaven. Both are very different from one another, however, after just two classes, we have already seen the immense need and progress of Project Prepare. AHOPE cares exclusively for HIV positive children, and we are working with a group of eleven teenagers in their transitions home who will soon leave care and enter into adulthood. Alternatively, Children’s Heaven supports orphaned girls through an innovative community based placement program, and we are working with a group of twenty teenaged girls who will soon age out of care.  

The youth really seemed to enjoy all of the lessons and activities in Project Prepare, the first focusing on identifying the qualities and characteristics of their hero.  Our second class focused on building a portfolio, creating a resume and locating important personal documents. For many of these youth, it was the first time they had ever heard of a resume. Moreover, many of them were unaware of the process to obtain their birth certificate or identification card. While these tasks may seem simple and obvious to an outsider, this only reinforced the need for a life-based skills curriculum here. As one youth ally noted, the girls at Children’s Heaven have not yet thought about these skills, as they are still in school and will not yet be applying for a job. However, once they age out of care, they will no longer have the support and assistance of a care facility, and therefore, it is imperative that they learn these skills beginning at a young age.

As we observed and monitored the different classes, I constantly found myself inspired and amazed by the strength and perseverance of these children. For our first class at Children’s Heaven, we sat in a cold dim room as a roof was being built overhead. Despite the loud hammering and chilly breeze, the girls were all attentive, participating, and appreciative of the class. This was yet another reminder of the hardships these girls have experienced and face on a daily basis, and their individual and collective resilience. Both at Children’s Heaven and AHOPE, I have been extremely impressed by the community formed by these children and the staff. Not only are they friends, but they are family, and the support and encouragement they have for one another is truly something we can all learn from.

We are looking forward to beginning Project Prepare at our third orphanage, Worldwide Orphans Foundation, and continuing to help and work with such impressive and inspiring youth!

Amharic Word of the Week:
Betasab - Family

Amy Gilbert
IOFA Program Development Intern

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