Who are those children?

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I know very little about those children. Just bits and pieces. They must be between 8 and 12 years old. They live in Addis-Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. I finished high school there at the Franco-Ethiopian Lycée Guebre Mariam.Swear to God. Close to half a century ago.  🙂

Who are those kids? I can only guess their names: Tafari (remember Reggae’s “Ras Tafari”?), Birhane (My light), Wossene, Abebeche (Blooming like a flower), Amareche (She is beautiful), Birkeye (Precious), Elshaday (Almighty God), Genet (Promise or Eden), Kuleni (The one whose eyes are lined with mascara) (All that in three syllables? Wow!), Makeda (Magnificent), Tsehai (Sunshine) and so many other names in Amharic or Amarinya, one of the main languages in Ethiopia.

2 Addis Fre school and non-level playground

The school’s playground. A bit steep.

Ethiopia is one of the oldest countries and civilizations in the world, going back to the second millenium BC. The greek name Aithiops is mentioned in Homer’s Illiad and Odissey. The Queen of Sheba who is said to have stolen King Solomon’s heart is reputed to have come from Ethiopia. Since the Kingdom of Aksum or Axum in the first centuries AD, it has maintained a certain unity and continuity. Though there are many religions in Ethiopia, the Amhara people have been Christians (a branch of Egypt’s Coptic Church) since the 4th century or so. The holy city of Lalibela still has churches carved out of cliffs, Axum and Gondar can boast of some of the oldest monuments in Africa.

Okay, some will ask again: “Who are those children?”. After the Emperor Hailé Selassié was deposed by a military coup in the mid-seventies, Ethiopia went through decades of a brutal dictatorship. Starvation, executions… The sad usual. To-day, Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita. And also one the strongest growth in Africa. 10% GDP growth for the past few years. But everything still has to be done.

3 Terrible state of the showers and toilets

The toilets at the Addis Fre school.

Those children live in the outskirts of the capital. About 200 students. They go to a public primary school called Addis Fre. The children have no running water, and the latrines… well. What can I say? My former classmates at the Lycée Guebre Mariam have joined a project by the Rotary Club Addis Abeba. Together they have launched a rehabilitation programme. Small and practical: give the kids running water and rebuild the toilets. A coat of paint. “Rehab” the buildings, roofs. That’s it. Ground work. Development starts with small practical things. The budget? 20,000 Euros. US$ 22,000 plus change (1 Euro = 1.13 Dollar approx.). Not much. A little bit more than 100 bucks per child.

3 Appalling state of the toilets before renovation start

To-day, the project has received 32% funding through crowd-funding. “We” are still 7,200 US$ short. Now comes the nice part: if you have a few bucks to spare, think of Elshaday, Tsehay, Makeda, and donate, whatever you can, to this safe link:


Donating process is easy (credit card) and safe. Betterplace is a renowned NGO. Whatever the amount you give, it will put a smile on those kids’s faces. 🙂

And if you are short of cash, it doesn’t matter. Maybe you can spread the word. And if some of you feel like re-blogging… That would be even nicer.

Meanwhile, work has already started. A new water tank has been delivered:

5 Students + New water tank delivered _7253-A

(Love the little boy’s smile at the front)

On behalf of those children, my friends from the Lycée Guebre Mariam and the Rotary Club:

Ameseginalew (Thank you in Amharic; I thought it was “ezzerestellin” or something like that, but my Amharic is rather rusty) 😉

Brieuc, AKA “Brian” Martin-Onraet, Lycée Franco-Ethiopien Guebre Mariam. “Class” of … well, a while ago.

Photos by Renato Gulla, Lycée Guebre Mariam, too. Merci Renato et toutes celles et ceux qui travaillent de près ou de loin sur ce merveilleux projet.

39 thoughts on “Who are those children?

  1. I vividly remember being in kindergarten where the nuns gave us a small milk carton to collect change in for the starving Ethiopians. I never forgot that image in my mind and I felt so happy to provide them with my small amount of change. It was pretty heartbreaking for the five years old version of myself…

    When did you live there?

  2. Pingback: Thank you for the children | Equinoxio

  3. Pingback: The heart is a lonely blogger* (Cont’d) | Equinoxio

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