The Gurage area is located 195 kilometers southwest of Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. People in this area are known for being hard workers and successful entrepreneurs. Along with that commendable trait, comes the fact that they prefer to lead a very cautious and quiet life, causing others to perceive them as submissive and meaningless. Gurage is a place where people still hold onto this dangerous cultural practice that can effect children and women specifically. The demeaning word used for them is tokenet,which means minor or insignificant. This attitude makes them feel dejected, rendering them incapable of standing up for themselves over time. Those who are labeled are not allowed to take part in any cultural activity or public gathering.
Eyosias remembers his childhood years. He was shy and didn't like to approach people, especially those coming from different areas. Eyosias comes from a typical Gurage family. He is the second child and has an older brother and two younger sisters. In his community, no one notices if children are shy or if they're not interactive; because it is considered to be normal and children are not important. That's why Eyosias says, "had it been few years back, I wouldn't freely talk to you or I wouldn't be willing.”
World Vision is bringing change to Eyosias’s community through its Christian Discipleship Program. In collaboration with the local church, World Vision is providing child development training and is encouraging children to be engaged in church activities. The project raises awareness and builds capacity through training. The program is showing significant impact in many households.
|Eyosias (left) plays the piano as part of his church choir.|
Eyosias Sahle is now seventeen years old. This year, he joined the college preparatory program after successfully passing the national exam. He scored straight ‘A’s in all the nine subjects and became known all over the school community. Something else that Eyosias is enthusiastic about is taking part in his church choir. He says, “Thanks to World Vision and my church, I’m happy and confident to stand in front of the crowd and play the piano, which is my favorite instrument, and worship God. I’m lucky and thank God for that.”
The church continues to work with World Vision on direct and indirect child development tactics, creating a child friendly environment and promoting behavioral change within families. The church is optimistic about building a capable and confident young generation, only known for its hard work and successful outcomes.
Mr. Hailu, the pastor says, “We closely work withWorld Vision. The church empowers children and youth so they now organize their own conferences where thecommunity and mainly their parents had attended. On such occasions, looking at their children take the stage, makes many parents cry and even confess in the house of God, realizing the potential their children have when they are given the opportunity and how long they have taken this away from them. Having to witness this radical change is success for us, and gives us the strength to totally abolish this harmful practice from the society.”
Invigorated by the change in his own life, Eyosias says, “My parents send me and my siblings to school, encourage us on our education and we freely communicate in our house. I want to thank God and make my parents proud of me, and pray for others to have this chance too.”