We strive to provide integrative care for the neediest children in our communities – often looked after by a single impoverished parent, grandparent, extended family member, or even a young sibling – by ensuring that basic physical, educational, and emotional needs are met. We approach orphan care through a number of ways:
We believe all children should have the ability to attend school, regardless of their family situation or economic status. Education is a key component for a child finding success in his or her life, and vital to the economic well-being of our communities and our country. We believe that an investment into a child’s education today will be returned in future jobs, development, and economic growth.
We allow families to send their children to school by covering school fees and providing school materials and uniforms. Tutoring programs and peer mentoring groups in order help students succeed in their studies. Students may come to our facility to do their homework and study. Children can remain in the Yezelalem Minch program as long as they are in school. Those who go to university will continue to receive assistance until they graduate. For students who do not attend university, we encourage vocational training programs to equip them with skills to earn an income.
In recent years, Yezelalem Minch began operating a small preschool in Addis Ababa for younger children in the community, providing them a special level of care and attention. This program has expanded into a second preschool in Holeta, in the Oromia region. The preschools provides students with daily meals and a quality head-start in education, and also allows parents/guardians to work during the day.
Lack of food is a very real problem for many of our families. Although we provide a level of direct food support, Yezelalem Minch discourages dependency on food handouts and has designed programs to encourage households towards food security through education concerning healthy and balanced diets, and by engaging targeted households in income generating activities.
Yezelalem Minch provides every child with monthly food support, annual health check-ups, full coverage of medical expenses, as well as shoes, clothing, and hygiene supplies. Yezelalem Minch identifies children who may be suffering from serious health issues such as malnutrition or HIV/AIDS, in order to provide supplementary food and special medical attention to help address their specific needs.
Additionally, we provide preventative health education for children and guardians – empowering them to understand how best to manage their health. When a child becomes ill, all medical expenses are covered by the program. Children can get basic health assistance from the our own staff nurses, seek care from government health institutions, or get referrals to hospitals for major care.
Yezelalem Minch strives to care for the whole child – physical, social, and spiritual. Most orphans and vulnerable children have experienced extreme loss, trauma, and other complex challenges, so it is not enough to care only for the child’s physical health.
We have a number of strategies to help overcome these challenges. One of these is engaging children in group ethical and moral education. Our trained community volunteers serve a critical role of encouragement, guidance, and counseling through trauma and difficult circumstances.
Yezelalem Minch also works to encourage social interaction and peer cohesion among our children, enhance self esteem, identify interests and talents, and maximize potential. Students can participate in organized clubs for such activities as drama, music, and sports. Healthy entertainment, special holiday celebrations, and annual recreation trips also provide an opportunity for our children to enjoy new experiences together.
Every Saturday, Yezelalem Minch hosts a lunch program at multiple branch locations, where children can come together for a meal and recreation time together. While the lunch program offers a small nutritional benefit to the children, its primary benefit has little to do with food: the program is a weekly opportunity for children to play freely and interact with each other, our community volunteers, and staff. The lunch program also serves as an opportunity for guardians to earn extra income by preparing the meals each week.
Yezelalem Minch seeks to fight and prevent child neglect and abuse by working in partnership with government offices and community support groups. Ethiopian law currently prohibits Yezelalem Minch from being directly involved in child protection, advocacy, and good governance. Therefore, we work closely with legally authorized institutions – including private local groups, government offices, and local police forces – by providing material support and opportunities for these groups to better advocate for our most vulnerable children.