How I found a home, my brothers, and pursued my dreams

Tolossa Mengistu (right) grew up at 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. For Tolossa, Selam gave him everything he has today.

“I have been fortunate to have grown up at an organisation that has had a significant impact on my life,” he says. “Selam has been instrumental in shaping who I am today.”

Through the support from Selam, Tolossa thrived – first through school and then through university, where he graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He now works for Selam’s manufacturing workshop and he has started his own business within the organisation, providing food to employees. Tolossa has a team of nine employees who help him to run the business.

“This endeavour has been successful so far, and I'm grateful to have had Selam’s support in making it happen,” he says. “Selam’s staff have been crucial in my success, as they recognise my potential and have encouraged me to pursue my dreams.”

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, Zahai made a visit to Ethiopia which was then stricken by severe famine. Moved by the ill 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.

Since then, it has gone from strength to strength. 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.

For Tolossa, the impact of Selam’s support didn’t stop with him alone. Having been separated from his brothers as a child, Tolossa was able to find them with the support of Selam.

“Thanks to Selam’s support and encouragement, I have been able to help my two brothers as well,” he says. “I found my brothers after a long search, and I have been able to support them financially and emotionally. It's been incredibly fulfilling to see them thrive, and I'm grateful to have had the resources to make that happen.”

For Tolossa, as with so many of those who grew up with Selam, the future looks bright.

“My brother and I have decided to start our own organisation outside of Selam,” he says. “We believe that working independently will allow us to grow and thrive in new ways. We're excited about the possibilities and look forward to seeing where this new venture takes us.”

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

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