Ten boys and five girls between 14 and 18, who cannot read or write and who have been suffering from child labour, can now support themselves and go to school since May 2005 through the proceeds of the concert trip "Building a bridge with music". The 15 children came to the capital Addis Ababa from the countryside without their parents. There were no relatives in the city who could take care of them. In the city they were forced to child labour e.g. as weavers, watchmen or firewood collectors. They had to work six days a week and up to ten hours a day for their employers - without enjoying the fundamental right of children. Girls had to carry 25 kg of firewood or more on their backs for a distance of several kilometres and were exposed to physical violence.
The independence project made it possible for them to move away from their unfair employers. They were equipped them with the necessary working materials and given a house to stay. For one year the rent was paid for them. During this time the young people learned to take over responsibility for themselves, including the payment of rent. They have also started participating in evening classes. The girls have opened small shops and the boys are working as independent weavers. They can decide for themselves when and how much they want to work. They keep the earned money and start to go to school.
"Our project helps the exploited children in a direct way to fight against child labour and it is a way to also do something against the spread of HIV/Aids" explains Yonas Tesfaye, Head of Hope for Children.