Young and Elderly People

Young and Elderly People

Two of the most vulnerable sectors of Ethiopia include unemployed young people and the elderly. This is due to a lack of government funded social services, training programs and pension schemes. Both groups are at risk of poverty and are often a financial burden on their families. The Daughters of Charity aim to empower these demographics, improving their opportunities and quality of life.

Youth Work

One way or another, our work targets young people especially skills training centres and youth empowerment centres. Two major risk factors affecting the health and wellbeing of youth in Ethiopia include HIV and human trafficking. Both of these issues are in part a result of deficiencies in education, impoverished living conditions, and gender inequality.

Human Trafficking – a growing problem for the youth of Ethiopia (particularly women) – is defined by the Ethiopian Trafficking Protocol as “the recruitment, transport, transfer, harboring or receipt of a person by such means as threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud or deception for the purpose of exploitation." Trafficked youth are often subject to human rights violations including forced hard labour and domestic servitude, unlawful incarceration, rape, sexual exploitation (in terms of forced or coerced prostitution and participation in pornography), involvement in armed conflicts (particularly in the neighboring conflict regions of South Sudan), murder and dangerous transport conditions.

Youth are enticed into human trafficking operations because of a number of factors: unemployment, lack of opportunities (particularly for rural women who generally leave school at a younger age and find it harder to find agricultural work), ignorance of the risks of human trafficking, and glamorization of Western living standards/Middle Eastern cities associated with wealth. The scale of the problem is enormous – A 2017 study by the US Department of State estimated that there are 400,000 Ethiopian migrants in Saudi Arabia alone, with many more undocumented cases in the county.

The Daughters of Charity are using a holistic strategy to empower Ethiopian youths at risk of Human Trafficking and HIV. Services include:

  1. Opportunities for education
  2. Skills training
  3. Sports activities
  4. Awareness raising workshops (including production and dissemination of a video highlighting the risks of human trafficking – Humans Not Slaves)
  5. Basic needs provided for – such as one meal per day for 200 students (St. Justin De Jacobis House, Alitena)
  6. Assisting women in education – such as boarding for 20-24 female students in grade 9 and 10 to encourage them continuing their education (St. Justin De Jacobis House, Alitena)

Supporting Elderly People

Currently, only retired members of the civil service, police force, and military are provided with social security when they retire. In a country where 85% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, it is clear that there are many elderly people without the funds to retire. For a demographic who cannot compete with younger people for physical work, elderly people are often left dependent upon family members for survival, or face homelessness without any other options but to beg for money. Ethiopian elderly people also face the problems of loneliness and ill-health that are common globally. However, there is a chronic lack of a social service in Ethiopia that is comprehensive enough to properly care for their needs.

The Daughters of Charity provide social work for elderly people in a number of regions including: Bethlehem House, Bogna; Gebre Michael House, Bahir Dar; Alecu Clinic; St. Vincent’s House, Mekelle, St. Joseph’s House, Addis Ababa, St. Damian’s House, Bulbula. Services include:

  1. Financial support – For example 100 elderly households supported in Bonga
  2. Basic needs provided for – including food, clothing, medication, housing, for example 20 elderly people cared for in Bulbulla, 30 in Bogna
  3. Visitations to combat loneliness