It all started back in 1992 when a family discussion about prostitution motivated Serawit Teketel (Cherry) to do something about it. At the time she herself was an unemployed university graduate, searching for job for almost a year without any result. During her own struggles, she felt God challenge her about the plight of Addis Ababa’s street women. If she was struggling to find a job with a university degree, how much more difficult, almost impossible, was it for these women with all their brokenness and lack of education? That was the start of Women at Risk. When Wendy and Andrew Brown (USA) came back to Addis, they were able to team up and make the first contact on the streets. Gradually, they began to meet other people, Yvonne Mildred (UK) and Ruth and Andy Meakins (UK) who carried the same burden for these women.
As a team of same heart, they started to look closely into the issue, talk to people, read, pray and then go out on the streets to meet the girls.
What soon became apparent was that the girls were desperate for help to get out of their current life style. In a city with more than 60% unemployment it would be impossible to find them jobs when most of them had little or no education, no employable skill. So the team began to look into the idea of vocational training. However, they soon discovered that the various vocational training schemes within the city required a minimum of eight years’ formal education. This left only one option: to tailor training that would give the women employable skills which takes their educational and social background into consideration. Since 1996, the team has developed and implemented various training schemes that continue to meet the needs of the girls.
Though poverty and unemployment are common reasons for forcing young women into prostitution, the team have seen other issues emerge over the years including dysfunctional families, sexual abuse (mainly rape) teen-age pregnancies etc. The majority of the girls are primary school drop-outs or have no schooling, which limits their ability to take life-changing steps.
Therefore, the rehabilitation process has to continually adapt to meet the current issues and needs of the women. Counselling, training and teaching are all tailored towards helping the women face and deal with the variety of problems and life issues positively and constructively.
Once they reach the point of positive behavioural changes, E-WAR teaches the girls various practical skills to help them gain employment or start their own small businesses as a viable alternative to prostitution.
As the project grew, and more experience is gained, a second project was opened in Adama town, 60 miles east of Addis Ababa. In both projects, rehabilitation and prevention programs are run. Please see Programs for details.
Since its beginning, over 360 women have benefited from E-WAR’s rehabilitation programme and over 90% have continued to live lives away from prostitution.