“I came to Selam as a small child. Selam is my home and my family, even when I’m not living in the children's village anymore.”

Mekdes Dawit is talking about her upbringing in the Selam Children’s Village in Ethiopia – a non-governmental, non-profit making organisation, which has funded two orphan homes in Addis Ababa City and one in Wukro, providing care and support to orphan children, so that they holistically develop and become self-reliant.

Selam Children’s Village was founded in 1986 by Zahai Röschli to support children who have lost their parents due to many causes (you can). In 1984, Tsehay made a visit to Ethiopia which was then stricken by severe famine. Moved by the situation of her native country, she returned to Switzerland consulted with her families and friends in order to raise funds to establish a home for children who were orphaned by this disaster.

Mekdes arrived at the village in 2001 when she was two years old. She was provided not only food and shelter, but education to ensure she was prepared for life after the village. She successfully graduated from high school and was accepted to the university in Harar. But when her plans changed due to some unforeseen challenges, Selam was there to support her.

“Immediately, Selam College offered me a place at their food preparation section, from where I have graduated last summer,” she says. “I always had an interest in cooking and food preparation, and I have gained good skills of how to plan and prepare all kinds of dishes.” Currently, she is studying Hotel Management through a scholarship as well as other courses to make the most of this opportunity.

Re&Act – the independent charity that manages the donations raised from the Children’s Walk – has partnered with Selam Children's Village since 2017. Throughout the partnership, Re&Act has supported 63 children in total providing them with holistic physical and psychological care, and funded 84 young adults’ living expenses and formal education. The impact for children like Mekdes can be life-changing.

“Now I continue my studies for Hotel Management in Addis Ababa to expand my capacity,” she says. “And I’m still part of the Selam village youth choir and we meet every Saturday in the chapel!”

Selam Children’s Village is just one of the many children’s initiatives in developing countries that Roche supports through Re&Act – the independent charity that manages the donations raised from the Children’s Walk.

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