EVENT DATE: Jun 27, 2013
LIFT Street Children (LIFT) is an organization designed to improve the lives of street children in Mekelle, Ethiopia. It has been founded by Merhawi Wells-Bogue, who was a street child himself in Mekelle. LIFT is inviting your participation in its mission through donating funds to support its mission and programs to improve the lives of street children in Mekelle. Merhawi's story and how the organization was founded follows.
My name is Merhawi Wells-Bogue. I am originally from Mekelle, Ethiopia. I graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 2013. During the spring of 2011, I wrote a research proposal to the University of New Hampshire Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research Program— and I was fortunate enough to receive a grant to do my research on the street children of Mekelle, Ethiopia for the summer of 2012. What inspired me to take this action was when I returned for the first time to my hometown, Mekelle during the summer of 2011, after living in the U.S. for eight years. Everything had changed completely, and I hardly recognized the city. Still, one thing remained the same: the large number of street children—homeless children who live on the streets. I witnessed the heartbreaking scene one hot day; I was strolling in Romanat Square, an area busy with cars and people going in all directions. I saw a pile of boys lying on the sidewalk next to a building. Curled on top of each other like corpses, they slept deeply in the sun. Some were barefooted, others in worn-out shoes; all were in ragged clothes. People hurried by them as if they didn’t exist.
Seeing these street children triggered past memories, when I was a young street vendor on the streets of Mekelle in which I had witnessed this same scene. Poverty pushed me to work on the streets first, as a shoe shiner, second, as a street vendor selling various items such as cigarettes, pocket tissues, lollipops, gum, biscuits, cookies, condoms, socks, scratch lottery tickets, and boiled eggs. Then I lived in an orphanage called Human Beings Association of Brotherhood. While living at the orphanage, I decided to work part time as a metal worker. Then with my two sisters, I began living with an American lady named Jayne Gallagher who at the time had her own day care helping more than 20 orphaned children with school supplies, food, shoes, and clothes. Most importantly, she helped the children by finding them an American family to adopt them. Gallagher then found my sisters and me an American family to adopt us, and we were blessed enough to be adopted to the Wells-Bogue family in Grantham, NH.
Although the city has developed and changed during the past eight years, the plight of the street children has not. Many children from the ages of 10 to 18 have left home because of extreme poverty, divorce, child abuse, war and HIV/AIDS. Society has abandoned the children and there are virtually no government or charitable programs to help. At night when they are asleep, drunk people uriante and spit on them, and security guards hit them. Sometimes they get blamed for things they didn’t do since they are obvious and defenseless targets of suspicion. They are confused, angry and frustrated. Seeing these street children not only triggered past memories, it also made me realize that I was now in a more privileged position and receiving a higher education. I was inspired to try to help these street children.
The intention of LIFT is to improve the present and future lives of the street children of Mekelle by accomplishing the following:
1. Helping to get an education for the street children, immediately and to get them through high school and hopefully college.
2. Meeting their immediate needs for food and shelter.
3. Providing the support, safety and nurturing systems that will help to support and nurture each child as they pursue their education and get them off of the streets.
Most importantly, your generous donation will help the children to go back to school. I believe strongly that education is the only tool that will enable the street children to break the cycle of poverty, homelessness, and stigmatization. In addition, the purpose is to reduce the number of street children by taking them off of the streets and putting them in an already established safe place where they will be sheltered, fed, clothed, supplied with school supplies, and counseled and mentored to be a better society. The objective is to transform the children through mentoring, counseling, and leadership activities; from negativity to positivity; from street minded to ethically productive leader minded where their change will inspire other young people like them to be leaders. However, this will be possible only if everybody is willing to contribute whatever he or she has because I believe collectively we can help these children.
Despite the appalling conditions the street children face and the bleakness of their future, they have not completely given up hope. Many expressed to me a real desire for change and hunger for an education and a home and family for their own. This was as true for the girls as for the boys. I believe all children deserve a better life. I believe collectively, we can help these children. I encourage you to make a difference in the lives of street children and help them to go back to school and cover their basic needs and potentially help them to become the next leaders of the world.
Check out my article & documentary film below
I have published an article regarding the plight of street boys and girls. I hope it gives you an insight not only about their plight but also what help public and private organizations offer. Click below.
The documentary film is very short and I hope it gives you a visual perspective and insight about the lives of street children as well as about half and full orphans due to poverty, war, and HIV/AIDS.
$35 will take care of one street child for a month including 3 meals a day, school supply, shoes, clothes and shelter.
$420 will take care of one street child for one year that includes 3 meals a day, school supply, shoes, clothes, and shelter.
$4200 will help one street child cover all his or her basic needs for 10 years while finishing their elementary school, high school, and college.
LIFT Street Kids
The United Campus Ministry to UNH
The Waysmeet Center
15 Mill Road
Durham, NH 03824
If you decide to write checks should be written out to The United Campus Ministry and note that the donation is for LIFT STREET KIDS (LIFT) then mail them to my fiscal agent the United Campus Ministry at the address above. All donations are tax deductible.
Any questions or concerns please contact
Twitter handle: @mwmerhawi19