Transforming the social inclusion of Menja children in Ethiopia

In the Keffa region of Ethiopia the Menja ethnic group have been isolated from their local neighbouring Gomero community and considered as ‘outcasts’ over long historic periods, living as ‘untouchable’ and facing critical and continuous discriminatory acts. Due to social isolation and economic problems, Menjas children often do not go to school or dropout at early grade levels. Menjas also tend to send children to school at a later age than Gomero (after 10 yrs), as children are required to work at home. The situation of girls is even worse: the home workload, the fear of rape – many cases of sexual violence have been registered against Menja girls on their way to and from school – and the absence of stationary materials are among the reasons why few Menja girls attend high school. This project aims to support most at risk children and young people through an integrated approach: by involving governmental authorities and school boards to address discrimination and facilitate integration; by providing access to integrated education for children; by establishing associations and drama clubs and community conversations for vulnerable girls to fight for their rights and support each other; by supporting families to thrive by establishing mixed community cooperatives, with training in business, saving and microcredit, agriculture and by supporting water development and management.