Our latest success story is that of Ahmed, who joined Retrak’s programme two years ago when he was 17 years old. Upon leaving his rural home in search of a better life in the capital, Ahmed soon found himself living on the streets. Ahmed realised his mistake and despite desperately wanting to return home to his family, he could not afford to do so.
Luckily, Ahmed heard from other boys living on the street about Retrak’s local centre. He soon after met with Retrak’s outreach workers and was invited to join our program. With the guidance of our social worker Biruk, Ahmed flourished through both our counselling and education services, before being successfully reunited with his family in October 2012.
Biruk has been following up with Ahmed on his many achievements since reuniting with his family. Whilst only 15.7% of boys in Ethiopia attend secondary school (UNICEF, 2012), Ahmed’s business brain has shined through against the odds. Not only has he completed grade 10 of secondary education, but he has also gone on to set up his own highly profitable business selling clothes in his local community. Through this entrepreneurial venture, Ahmed has been able to support his family, but his dreams are still even bigger. He next has his heart set on establishing his own wood work business after completing his vocational training in carpentry.
Biruk believes that Ahmed’s family played an important role in his success. In offering their love and support, Ahmed was encouraged to keep up his motivation for change. Commenting on the Income Generating Activity grant (IGA) Ahmed received to support his work ambitions, his father noted, “I was unable to give him that help, so I was serious and followed him to make sure he spent the money wisely. I never took his money to use for our daily expenses.” Ahmed himself added, “I had no hope of returning home by myself. If I had been ignored by Retrak and not joined the program my life would have ended on the street being addicted to different drugs.”
Retrak will be presenting successful case studies like that of Ahmed’s at the STRIVE Economic Strengthening and Child Protection Symposium 2015 in Washington DC. This event will see practitioners and researchers come together to discuss their experiences of the relationship between child family reunification and economic strengthening. We look forward to bringing you more stories of young people like Ahmed who, thanks to the fantastic work of Retrak staff and your amazingly generous support, can now look forward to a positive and prosperous future.