Biruh is BTO’s Latest Sponsored Child

Beyond the Orphanage


“Where will you go? our social worker asked him, ” I will live on the streets close to the churches,” he said.


His social worker says, “He has an astonishingly bright mind and a natural gift for music. He loves to play the flute.”

Biruh has been blind since birth and as a result, Biruh has lived at a residential institution in Addis Ababa for most of his life. Recently, the facility closed due to lack of funding and Biruh had to leave.

“Where will you go?” asked our social worker. Biruh replied, “I will stay on the streets close to churches.”

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates there are more than 100,000 street children in Addis Ababa. We cannot imagine that a child has to contemplate such a thing. Temporarily, Biruh’s uncle’s family has taken him to live with them, though they have barely enough resources to provide for themselves.

Biruh’s uncle’s wife says, “After the institution closed, I felt sad that he was forced to stop school half way through the year. I saw his potential and felt I should help him continue to study until the end of the school year to sit the national exam (which was at the end of June 2014)”.


She understands that going to school is one of Biruh’s deepest joys and that sitting the national exam is crucial to his future studies.

But the reality is that after June she can no longer support Biruh as the family has no financial means.

When asked about the difference between living in an institution and living with his current guardian Biruh answers with an emotional expression, “I get so much love living with this family”.

It’s clear from his tone of voice that Biruh has taken to family life quite easily and that a sense of love and belonging come naturally to him.

The Beyond the Orphanage (BTO) unique model of foster care/kinship care means that each foster family goes through a series of assessments to ensure they can provide a suitable, safe and loving environment for children.

As Biruh’s uncle’s family was found to be good foster carers, Biruh will be supported to live with them until he is qualified to gain employment. After he has finished his studies, of course.

Learning that BTO in Australia will support his foster family with the basics of food, water and clothing brings Biruh huge relief. BTO will also ensure that he receives a good education, a school uniform, counseling and health services.

Also, after school each day at the Drop-In Centre, tutors are on-hand to help the children their homework. When Biruh hears this, his face almost bursts with happiness. His lips open wide and he smiled with joy and hope that moved our social worker to tears.

Biruh’s dream in life is to become a lawyer. Second to that he would like to be a historian or a writer. As well as playing the flute in his spare time, Biruh likes to write poetry.

What inspires him to write? Biruh says quite simply, “my life and my experience.” We are certain that Biruh has much to write about already and we are glad he will have the opportunity to fulfill his dreams as part of his uncle’s family and our BTO Community.


Step 1. First, we liaise with local government about children in need. We then conduct interviews with the child and their potential guardians.

Step 2. Our social workers make a home visit to further assess the risk, health and safety of the child in their current environment. Since resources are limited, BTO can currently only consider the children in most need.

Step 3. At a further interview with the guardian and child, we invite them to the Drop-In Centre to complete some paperwork including signing a child agreement with us.

Taking care of a child is a joint responsibility, hence the agreement is signed by a representative from local government, BTO, local service provider (Bravehearts), the guardian and the child.

Step 4. Once a child is referred a professional team goes through a number of tests with the child in order to assess their needs. The areas considered include physical, psychological, emotional and educational needs.

Step 5. After that, a plan for their care and support is then drawn up and they become part of the BTO Community family as well as having their own family at home.

They are guided to work hard to follow their interests either academic or vocational to find independence in work that has meaning for them. They encourage and work with younger children on the program and they will always be part of the BTO Community.

You can make a difference to Biruh and children like him by making a one-off or regular donation, click here to see how.

November 26, 2015

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