Roar to you all. We have had a lot of new readers visit our blog so let us introduce ourselves. We are Dino and Lion. Dino is 4 years old, cheeky and always hungry! Lion is 2 years old, shy, sensible and always gets Dino out of trouble.
We used to live in a Primary School in London, but we decided to go on a huge adventure to learn more about the world. We are cycling with our owner all the way from London, England to Cape Town in South Africa.
This map shows how far we have to go…
We are now halfway through our journey…. We are now in a country called Ethiopia. Did you enjoy meeting all our Ethiopian friends last week…
We also met a very kind friend called Manfred…
Manfred wanted to show us around the capital city of Ethiopia which is called Addis Ababa.
He showed us lots of amazing places, including some amazing traditional music and dancing.
He also showed us a centre run by a charity called ‘Retrak’.
The centre is there to help children who live on the street. Where do you live and who do you live with? Would you like to live on the street?
Children that live on the street
Why do children live on the street instead of in a house with their family?
We are lucky that we have a family, friends who love us and help us to grow up safely. Most of us live in a house where we have food, water, money, clothes. When we are sick we can go to a doctor and we can go to school to learn so we can get a job when we are older and earn money.
For some children, they do not have a happy life like us.
Sometimes, their mums or dads are not kind to them and beat them or are horrible to them. Dino is very sad to think that mums and dads could be cruel to their children.
Sometimes, the family doesn’t have enough money to buy food so the children have little to eat and are often hungry.
Sometimes, the children’s mum might remarry and have new children. The new brothers and sisters get treated nicely, whereas the old children are neglected and treated badly.
All of these horrible things mean that sometimes children think it is better to run away from home. To leave the horrible things and go to a city to find a better life. Sometimes the children think that in the city they will get a job, find somewhere to live and their life will be so much better…
The city doesn’t offer a better life. When the children arrive…there is nowhere for them to sleep, there is no one to look after them, they have no friends or family, people are rude to them, they have no money to buy food so have to find food in bins, when they get sick there is no doctor to help. These children have to live on the street and look after themselves. Would you be able to live on the street by yourself? Lion says that he would be very scared and be very upset. He would miss his friends. Dino says that he would miss eating his owners yummy food!
“I am ashamed of living like this. But it’s not my fault. Would I choose to live like this?” said Berihun, Aged 16.
Lebna, aged 15 told us ” I am on the streets because of adults, it’s not my fault. I am not the problem”.
Manfred took us around Addis Ababa at nighttime and we saw hundreds of children from 5 years old to 18years old who were sleeping in little empty sacks of corn. They were in danger, couldn’t sleep because the street was so noisy, some were sick. All of them were just children!
Manfred then took us to visit the Retrak centre.
Retrak help a small number of boys who live on the street.
When we arrived, the boys were learning some Circus skills
The boys were very talented. Dino kept dropping his diablo! The circus skills help the children to have some fun and forget their life on the street. It also boosts their confidence and gets them working as a team.
Retrak also gives the boys lunch and snacks. Dino loved the vegetable sandwiches and the fact that they were packed full of vitamins and minerals to help the boys grow strong.
At the centre there is a Social worker who helps the boys to talk about why they ran away from home. He helps them with their problems. The social worker also talks to the boys family to help the family to change. Once they have worked through their problems, Retrak aims to reunite the boy with their family and send them back to a more loving family.
There is a Nurse at the centre who can help the boys get better when they are sick. Living on the streets means the boys often are sick with coughs, colds and stomach bugs.
The most important thing is that the boys are given catch up lessons at the centre so that they can go back to School.
At night, the boys sleep at the centre. They have a guard to keep them safe.
When the boys have worked through their problems and are ready to go home, Retrak take them back to their parents or grandparents and make sure that they are safe and happy.
Eddie, aged 13 said ” Staying at Retrak has saved me from beatings on the street.”
The boys were great fun and they drew lots of pictures of us on our bikes cycling through Africa!
It was great to visit the Retrak centre and see how people are helping children to move away from living on the street and to move back to live a better life with their families once more…
If you want to know more you can visit Retrak’s website
Thank you to Retrak and to Manfred for your help.
Lots of roars
Dino and Lion