Volunteer teacher sets up charity supporting Ethiopia’s homeless children
Volunteer Kevin Morley spent two years supporting a number of education projects with VSO in Eritrea. Upon his return home in 2007 he was determined to continue supporting Africa’s most marginalised children.
Today, Saltergate Children’s Home, the charity Kevin founded, sponsors six homes in Addis Ababa. They are giving homeless children a place to live and the chance to go to school.
A desire to help
Kevin always wanted to help people less fortunate. As soon as circumstances allowed he applied to use his skills volunteering with VSO in Eritrea.
“My first placement was as a teacher at Mai Nefhi, close to the capital, Asmara. I really enjoyed working there, so much so that after my first placement I asked to become a teacher trainer in the same region. This allowed me to make use of my skills as a teacher but reach even more educators.”
Kevin began fundraising while on placement in an effort to provide the school with the books it desperately needed.
“I appealed to the Royal Mail, where I used to work. I wrote an article for my local paper at home as well as asking my network of friends and family. Amazingly, over 2,500 books were donated. It really made a difference.”
On his second placement Kevin went further, aiming to equip the centre that dealt with teacher training.
“That time we managed to raise far more than expected. One individual even donated £4,000. With that we managed to buy a photocopier which helped us produce vital training materials”
The children of Addis Ababa
Having visited Addis Ababa several times during and after his placement, Kevin witnessed the issue of child homelessness. He explains:
“There are over 100,000 children sleeping rough on the streets of Addis. Because of the recent growth and investment in the city, people from all over come to earn money.
“Unfortunately this includes children who work to send money home, who are TB or AIDS orphans and who were rejected by their parents. All of them are missing out on education and struggling to survive. The situation has been made worse by the recent droughts in the country.
“A lot of homeless children spend time at petrol stations. They wipe up spilt petrol with rags and breathe in the fumes to help reduce their hunger pangs. It is a heart-breaking situation.”
"It is a heart-breaking situation."
Kevin’s wife, Rebka is Ethiopian. They met whilst on placement in Eritrea. Through Rebka’s family and friends he was also able to put together a robust network to help some of the children living on the streets of Addis. This grew in to Saltergate Children's Home.
Taking children off the streets
“The first child we took in was a baby, rejected by his mother." Says Kevin.
"A doctor I had befriended called me up and told me the situation. At the time there was no structure in place, but, determined to help, I organised the renting of a small house. Rebka’s friend agreed to look after the baby and so they moved in to the house. We called the baby Amanuel. Saltergate Children's Home was born.”
Kevin’s charity grows – with the help of fellow volunteers
Soon after taking on board Amanuel, the doctor called again, and as before Kevin arranged accommodation and pastoral care.
“Initially I had planned for a home to take on several children. But quite organically we ended up sponsoring children in separate locations and called them ‘micro-homes.’ We believe they offer more of a supportive structure for children, with more pastoral care and oversight.”
Saltergate Children's Home now supports six ‘micro-homes.’
To ensure the charity’s funds continue to be spent wisely, Kevin’s friend and brother-in-law, Anbes, travels to the homes and the schools where children study. They are working with local officials to ensure continued support.
Saltergate Children's Home received official charity status in 2015 and has on the board of trustees a number of Kevin’s fellow returned volunteers.
Kevin is looking to secure funding to ensure they can provide food, accommodation and schooling for the children they look after well in to the future. He is currently in America speaking to potential donors to increase the funds his charity urgently needs. To support efforts he has also written a book about his time as a VSO volunteer. All proceeds from sales will go to support Saltergate Children's Home.