5 years on the streets, but now I want a Physics doctorate – Irish Independent

personifies Plato’s maxim that ‘courage is a kind of salvation’.

GOAL staff in Addis Ababa (Robbie Reynolds)

GOAL staff in Addis Ababa (Robbie Reynolds)

ADDIS ABABA – Now 18, Asnakech* has a big smile for her GOAL friends as she gossips while making lunch at the golf club where works as a cook. “I am happy now. I spent four years at GOAL. I was trained in catering. I work in this kitchen – I was promoted – more money! I will start university soon.”

Asnakech is forward-thinking yet friendly. She wants a PhD in Physics after graduating. With a resolve rooted in her own Christian faith, she personifies Plato’s maxim that ‘courage is a kind of salvation’.

Genet Abay works at GOAL’s street children centres across Addis Ababa. She tells how, “We found Asnakech sleeping rough in a stadium. Her parents were immigrants from Eritrea, displaced by war. She was malnourished, and sadly, like most girls on the street she was sexually abused.”

In Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Freetown and Calcutta, where GOAL works with streetkids, these children often have no family, are unwanted by relatives, and vulnerable to physical harm. GOAL’s street-kids programme in Addis Ababa consists of two drop-in centres, education, healthcare, counselling, sport and recreation facilities. Five night shelters provide 200 beds.

Genet adds, “Asnakech stayed with her grandmother after her mother died. But her grandmother gets a tiny pension. The Ethiopian state hasn’t money to help a grandparent care for an orphan. A child ends up on the street.”

There are 13 million AIDS orphans in Africa. Many of these end up vulnerable and discarded, on the streets of large cities. Like Asnakech. But there is hope. Dealing with HIV-AIDS requires investment: in prevention, education, and awareness-raising. But this should not stop us helping street children.

*GOAL’s child protection policy requires that a pseudonym be used.

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