Self-sufficiency is an option for children like Bireda

We always encourage children to return home when it is in their best interests, but sometimes they just need a safe environment and a chance to learn new skills.

Since just ten years old, Bireda* shined shoes and carried luggage on the streets in the Oromia region to earn money for school materials when his family ran out of money.

However, this was not enough. His friends convinced Bireda that life was easier in Addis Ababa with the chance to earn even more. Having no other choice, the streets of the big city became Bireda’s next destination.

Bireda was 15 when Retrak’s outreach workers found him sleeping under a bridge with friends, inviting him to a drop-in centre. It was noticeable that Bireda had truly been integrated in streetlife, as he struggled to transition to this new way of living.

Yet, he noticed that the efforts of the teachers at the centre were for him, giving him the massive opportunity to continue with school.


Bireda learned Amharic from scratch, beginning with the alphabet and simple numbers to being able to read and write short stories and complete mathematical equations. He even helps other students to learn!

While happily working in the daytime to pay for school expenses, he studies in the evening. This is an independent life which suits Bireda well, rather than returning to his family: “I never thought before all this would happen to my life…I am going to manage my life wisely because Retrak showed me a direction.”

*name changed to protect identity.