With a staggering estimate of 1 – 2.5 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ethiopians, the situation for the majority of these individuals is dismal, as there are virtually no public services or formal opportunities for education, employment, or social inclusion & mobility. Very little is being done at present to organize or advocate for this community who suffer daily injustices, stigmatization, and exclusion. While there are a handful of schools for the Deaf and a smattering of Deaf societies, best estimates show that the vast majority (upwards of 90%) of Deaf persons nationwide are left out of formal education entirely and almost none will ever access formal
In March 2015, after years of extensive conversations and groundwork done in partnership with local stakeholders, the dream of establishing a Visions Model Regional Deafness Center became a reality. As of August 2015, approximately 125 Deaf youth and young adults (ages 3 – 30) are within the Center’s network and are benefitting from its various
services. An additional 300+ individuals (including parents, family members, hearing children, teachers, school staff, university students, medical students, government representatives, and others) have also been directly impacted by the Center’s activities, most predominantly through regular instruction in Ethiopian Sign Language.
The current list of major program activities and services of the Center include all of the following:
Daily instruction and tutorial support both during and after school hours for Deaf children (Grades 1-8) at 3 public schools in Bahir Dar with Deaf classrooms through the hiring of 4 full-time Deaf teachers (Visions also helped establish a Deaf Resource Room and new Deaf classroom at 1 of these schools)
In-class and after-school interpreting services for Deaf students in hearing-integrated classrooms (Grades 5 and above) by 2 full-time Interpreters
Deaf preschool for Deaf children (ages 3-6) led by 1 full-time Deaf teacher
Hearing Testing & Counseling services and provision of hearing devices for those identified as potential beneficiaries (to-date, 28 hearing aids have been provided and 73 individuals have received hearing testing & counseling)
Community education, awareness-raising, and outreach activities to reduce stigma and increase general understanding of Deafness
Livelihoods development support for 28 Deaf adults (ages 18-30) led by a Vocational Training & Livelihoods Development Officer
Creation of public education materials, including short films (5) and promotional materials, and teacher training materials and supplies
Regular weekly instruction in Ethiopian Sign Language for hearing school children (twice per week), teachers, school staff, Bahir Dar University – Special Needs Education Department students, Felege Hiwot Hospital medical students & staff, and parents & family members of Deaf individuals
Social clubs & activities for Deaf youth and adults, including a Deaf circus and football club
Creation of a sister school network of 10 other schools with Deaf classrooms throughout the country and provision of a laptop, teacher’s supplies, and training support for each
Creation of a virtual Ethiopia National Deaf Portal – a single comprehensive site with information relevant to the Deaf community and family members, including an interactive national map of all Deaf-related services and entities, and e-archive of all related information and learning materials, including EthSL learning materials and language codification
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Children in Ethiopia are profoundly affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2009, nearly 73,000 children under age 15 were living with HIV. Ethiopia also has one of the largest populations of orphans in the world - 13% of children throughout the country are missing one or both parents. This represents an estimated 4.6 million children - more than 800,000 of whom were orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
All the children who come to AHOPE are HIV+. Many have watched one or more parent die from AIDS, and often they have been abandoned with no extended family member willing or able to take care of them. The first pediatric program to provide lifesaving antiretroviral medication in Ethiopia was established by AHOPE. AHOPE children are going to school, learning to manage their disease, and the older ones are now preparing for a life outside of AHOPE.
AHOPE has 5 program's that take care of these children at different ages:
AHOPE's children home provides a nurturing and loving home for these children. Currently there are 95 children in two children's home.
Little AHOPE provides a home for infants and toddlers.They are taught basic skills to ready them for school. Children of kindergarten and early elementary school age attend Worldwide Orphans Academy.
The Family Group home is home is for children between the ages for 11 and 14. There are two Family Group Homes in which 10 children live. This home environment encourages fun and friendship. The kids are able to visit friends after school and on weekends or have friends come to the house.
The Youth Transition home works with teens who are transitioning to become successful adults. AHOPE currently has 31 youngsters between the ages of 14 and 22, living in 3 Youth Transition Homes.
The Independent Living Program is for young adults who live by themselves but receive support including rent and counseling.
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Tens of thousands of women work as fuel wood carriers in Addis Ababa. These women are often the head and sole support of their families and earn less than $12 a month. One third are between the ages of 10 and 19. Often barefoot, the women carry bundles of eucalyptus branches weighing 75-80 pounds over 10 miles down Mount Entoto to markets in Addis Ababa. The conditions are harsh and guards sometimes harass them, demand bribes or assault them. Despite the risks to their health and safety, women fuel wood carriers have no choice. They lack the education and financial resources necessary to make income alternatives a reality.
Connected in Hope is an innovative, nonprofit social enterprise that uses fashion and design to create opportunity for vulnerable women and their families in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Connected in Hope provide access to international markets as well as the support, training and sustainable income artisans need to lift their families out of extreme poverty. They are currently employing nearly 100 artisans (creating woven textiles, leather products, art and jewelry) who are able to provide for 400+ dependents with the income they earn for their work.
The artisans are paid up front for their products and 100% of the profit from sales is reinvested in programs that benefit the artisans and their families. Profits enable Connected in Hope to provide artisans with business training, leadership development programs, health care assistance and literacy classes. In addition, the organization operates a preschool, kindergarten and after-school program serving 100 children, including the children/grandchildren of our artisans, as well as other children from the neighborhood surrounding our weaving compound.
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In November 2015, we launched a new program called Sheba Gives. Through this program, every month we will be donating 10% of our proceeds to a non-profit organization that is close to our heart. When we started Queen Sheba Winery, we wanted to share the special gift of Tej with our loved ones. We are so happy to now be partnering with amazing non-profits and see our labor of love improving the lives of many. Please join us on our #SHEBAGIVES campaign on facebook, twitter and instagram and help spread the word!