From Enrolled Child to Entrepreneur in Ethiopia

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Posted on 08/17/2020

Mewale grew up in Arada, a sub-city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in a densely populated community where unemployment is high and infrastructure and sanitation are poor. His mom was unemployed, and his dad earned a little income from petty trade, but it wasn’t enough to support a family of nine.

“Regular meals were rare, and school materials were unaffordable,” Mewale, now 30, says. “I was forced to quit school half of each day and work in hard labor to support the family.”

Boy child standing in front of red curtain in Ethiopia

Mewale as a young child, around the time when he
was enrolled with ChildFund.

Enrollment with ChildFund Changes the Game

Then, Mewale’s parents enrolled him with ChildFund, and the tables started to turn. Through ChildFund’s local partner organization in the area, Future Hopes Integrated Development Organization, Mewale had programs and resources he never had access to before.

“Through ChildFund, lunch was provided for students at a center in the community,” he says. “My family got medical refunds and kitchen utensils, blankets and toiletries. Hospitals, fully equipped youth centers and kindergarten schools were also built. I was also a member of the credit and savings association.”

An Uncertain Journey That Leads to Entrepreneurship

Money was still tight for Mewale, so in 10th grade, he dropped out of school to become a mechanic at a small garage and do shoe repairs in his spare time. When this wasn’t enough, he and his friends left the country to try to make it elsewhere – but this fell through, too.

“After six months of suffering and destitution, we decided to return the motherland,” Mewale says. And they knew just who to turn to for help. “We approached the local partner that we were involved with previously, and ChildFund once again came to our rescue. Through the aid of a grant program, I now have a shop where I rent out musical equipment, tents and furniture for occasions like small weddings and graduations.”

Man standing outside of shop in Ethiopia smiling in front of a sign in Amharic.

Mewale, 30, stands in front of his equipment rental shop, which he
was able to start up thanks to the support of ChildFund’s local partner.

A Success Story We Can Recognize

Mewale’s story, with its ups and downs, is a success story we can all relate to. It’s a story that shows how, with some resilience and some support, we’ve all got a chance to build a life that we want – and one that can sustain us. You can be a part of this essential support system by sponsoring a child in Ethiopia today.