At only a few days old, a young boy was left on the streets of Jimma, Ethiopia, wrapped in a blanket. Drawn by his cries, he was found alone and the police were alerted to his situation.
Fifteen days later, the little boy had a name, a home, and parents. His name is Mayu* and he is now six years old.
According to government statistics, two to three babies are abandoned every day in Jimma, an urban community in western Ethiopia. To help give children the chance to succeed and thrive in a family environment, SOS Children’s Villages Jimma has partnered with the Women, Children and Youth office to raise awareness about this issue and how the community can support these children. Together with the local authorities, SOS Children’s Villages supports the process of helping suitable parents foster the growing number of abandoned children.
Birke and Chane
Birke and her husband Chane had tried to have a second child for a long time but had not succeeded. Their first-born daughter was already 17 years old.
In one of the community meetings Birke attended, she learnt that it was possible to grow her family through fostering. It was the first time she heard about this. At home, Birke discussed this with her husband, and they decided fostering was a good option for them. They took the next step of expressing their interest to the Women, Children and Youth office.
After the relevant assessment, paperwork and training on childcare, the couple met Mayu and brought him home. “I am so happy for the opportunity to raise him and be part of his life,” she says.
Parents with resources to cater for the expenses of the fostered child are trained in childcare, but those who need extra support like Birke and Chane receive funds to cover costs of food, health, psychosocial support, clothing and educational expenses.
Foster parents and SOS families have formed a network, which gives SOS mothers and aunts an opportunity to mentor two to five foster families each. In this network, the SOS caregivers share their experiences on childcare.
Birke says Mayu has brought many joys and blessings to her family. “For example, my husband has been working away from home, but he has transferred to Jimma town to work near home after Mayu joined the family – the father, son moments have been amazing. And I found work to care for abandoned children at the Jimma Hospital,” she says.
Mayu is now in his second year of kindergarten and living happily with his foster family. He likes to draw pictures, play with toys and fix electronics. The couple is now talking about adopting Mayu and opening their home to another child.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to change a child’s life and give them a chance at a bright future, but it is upsetting to know that so many children are in need of a home,” says Birke.
“My wife and I are lucky that our parents gave us a good start in life,” Chane adds. “And we are grateful for the opportunity to extend that to a child in need.”
*Name changed to protect the child’s privacy