Mebratu was born in Dessie, 400km North of Addis Ababa. He is one of five boys whose mother died when he was a baby. His father, an alcoholic, would come home drunk and violently beat him and his brothers. Sadly, this is the only real memory that Mebratu has of his father. It's little surprise that Mebratu did not progress well at school. Instead of studying, he was forced to spend the evenings searching or begging for food.
Mebratu’s family were evicted from their rented accommodation. The house was to be used for commercial purposes and Mebratu’s father made no effort to find an alternative. Once again, he neglected his vulnerable children, leaving them to fend for themselves. Mebratu decided there would be more hope for him in Addis Ababa. He had begged and saved his way to little over 50 birr (around €2). Hardly enough for a fresh start in a strange new city. It was not to be the happy new beginning he’d hoped for. The cheapest accommodation Mebratuu could find was more than double what he had cobbled together. And so began his horrific ordeal on the streets of a frightening and unfamiliar city.
Life on the streets of Addis Ababa is about as dangerous as it gets. Branded thieves by the police, street children are constantly harassed and forced to move on from wherever they find shelter. Then there are the older, stronger and more violent street children, who regularly steal any money that Mebratu earns. Many children, including Mebratu, find solace in addictive drugs offered to them by violent criminals. And as if all this wasn’t enough to deal with, Mebratu lives in constant fear of older, richer men who prowl the area in their cars, looking for young boys to sexually abuse. This is no life for a child.
Mebratu is now taking advantage of the nutritious breakfast available through Hope. He is attending the informal lessons and is avoiding the violence and hardship that has plagued him since birth.
Related work: Education for all