We made it to the final leg of our trip: Ethiopia! Here, we partner with the Selamta Family Project in Addis Ababa, where they take in orphans and the children of HIV victims and place them into family-structured homes. Each house has a mom who lives there full time, as well as an Auntie, who comes to the house each day.

Caregivers talk and laugh during a weekday workshop on self-esteem.

Caregivers talk and laugh during a weekday workshop on self-esteem. Photo by Kate Lord

Additionally, the students have regular programming at the Selamta Center, especially on weekends. We were able to visit with a few of the families so far. Each has between 8 and 10 children living in the home, many of whom have at least one biological sibling there as well. Selamta tries very hard to keep siblings together if at all possible, and will track down other family members as well to ensure they can stay present in the children’s lives.

The Bishangari house poses for a family portrait. Sentayehu (back row, left), Meseret (left in tie-dye), and Lidet (center in red) are all STF Scholars.

The Bishangari house poses for a family portrait. Sentayehu (back row, left), Meseret (left in tie-dye), and Lidet (center in red) are all STF Scholars. Photo by Kate Lord

All the Selmata children attend school at Alpha School, a private K-12 center that accommodates around 2,000 kids. Seriously, it’s huge:

Photo by Kate Lord

Photo by Kate Lord

It isn’t all work, though. When we weren’t following the kids to school or in programs at the center, we were doing a whole lot of playing. Here, we’re kicking around a soccer ball that’s almost entirely flat — and only a week old. Work hard, play hard!

STF Scholar Tizita (back) plays soccer with Selamta volunteer Peety, Christen and her house brother.

STF Scholar Tizita (back) plays soccer with Selamta volunteer Peety, Christen and her house brother. Photo by Kate Lord