Day 7: Make Your Mark - Addis

This cursor is blinking…blinking…blinking. Daring me to try to tell you about today. I’m not sure I am up to the challenge. Today has been the hardest day here.

The door closed behind Tesfay and I heaved forward and let out a sob. His words ringing in my ears…

My mother could not feed me, so I make her mad. I don’t want to make her mad, so I left.

When I am living on the street people will come and rape me.

I saw three boys taken by a rich person who had a car; they were raped. I think he took their kidneys. I don’t want this to happen to me. I am afraid he will come and take my kidney.

When other boys disappear, I know this thing happened to them and every time it makes me scared.

Ami, our translator tells us that his fear is not unfounded; “this happens here,” she says plainly.

The police beat us. I stay awake all night to make sure that no one will rape me. 
There is no happiness there.

Tesfay is 15, he has lived on the street on and off since he was 10. He speaks to us in Amharic, but occasionally in English, smiling shyly when he does. He tells us proudly that he is now in grade three. The words he spoke during our interview rocked me to my core, but he was just describing his normal.

Make Your Mark reaches out to street boys and works with them to help transition them off of the street. It is not an easy process, often when organizations come here and take boys in, they provide temporary relief but inevitably the boys end up back on the streets unable to make lasting change in their lives. Make Your Mark is devoted to helping these boys get off the street and stay off the street and they have developed a model that they have found to be successful here. Every single boy who has completed their program, has not returned to the street.

The name Tesfay means hope. When asked about his hopes for the future, Tesfay said he wants to get a job and take care of his mother and sister. When asked if he’d like to have a family one day, he laughs gently before saying it would make him happy to have a family.

Read more about Make Your Mark here.