“First Call for Children” in Ethiopia
Addis Abeba, 16th January – 10th February 2012
Bekéle Debalke, head of the non-profit organization SSCM (Support Street Children and Mothers) in Addis Ababa, was participant of the NVC seminar in 2010, 2012, and 2014.
At Bekéle’s a place in Addis Ababa, early school leavers and children of the street get trained to be able to earn a livelihood. In ten month lasting apprenticeships, they become e.g. hairdressers, metal workers, and joiners/carpenters.
Bekéle also uses NVC with street children. They are learning to use NVC to solve their conflicts in a peacefull and constructive way.
As a result of his satisfying NVC work with the children, he asked me if it was possible to organize a NVC seminar in his home town. After preparing the project for six months, in January 2012 the seminar “First Call for Children” took place in Addis Ababa. Attendees were members of the urban administration, teachers of the local schools, parents, leaders of women league, municipal employees, social workers, and in the afternoon children of the street and young women who sold their body. Trainers and assistants were Mair Alight (US), Jean Baptiste Dikuriyo (BI), Adam Michaelides (US), Samuel Korallus (D), Joseph Bazirake Besigye (UG), Gitta Zimmermann (D).
We worked in three groups with each about 30 participants. In the afternoons we did trainings to different organizations like the University of Addis Ababa, the Queens College, several schools like the German school, the school of laughter, Menenik School II, NGO’s, Sport the Bridge, Abuare technical and Vocational School.
I was working with the young people. At the beginning I asked about their desire if a miracle woman came to visit them. The answers were: education, a job, education, my family around, education, to become a musician in the church, to spread NVC, internal peace, education, education, education, learn and teach others, care for others, become a business man, solve conflicts, education.
I expected desires like: a bicycle, three times food a day, a new sports dress. No, they wanted to get education. I am impressed and moved, because this is my own desire for as much children as possible.
Working with these children was the most alive training I had, they started step by step — initiated by many role plays — to sense their own feelings and needs and expressed them.
On my final day, I gave all my gifts to the street children, like football shoes and footballs. Suddenly about ten 20 to 30 year old men came in, severely looking. Bekéle called them a “gang” and told me they weren’t harmless. In a demanding way, they asked for a similar ball like the one I handed over to the street children. I did not have another one. Bekéle talked with them in full respect. Afterwards I offered to send a ball as soon as someone will come from Germany, then they turned around and took off.
I was astonished that only the desire of these ten men to get a football created a situation which easily could result in a conflict — if they were not taken seriously. How easy it is on the other hand to listen and then connect to the “conflict” partner.
In the meantime, there is a group in Addis which practices NVC on a roughly regular basis.