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Photo essay: The street children of Addis Ababa

Photocall Ireland photographer Leon Farrell’s luminous portraits of life on the streets of Ethiopia’s capital city.

YOUNG, POOR and living on the street – a trinity of circumstances that make for some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

UN sources say there are 150 million children living on the streets of cities and towns globally. Photocall Ireland photographer Leon Farrell is currently in Ethiopia where he has chronicled the lives of some of the capital’s street children in the series of stunning portraits in our slideshow below.

According to aid agency GOAL, with whom Farrell travelled, there are 150,000 children living on the streets of Ethiopia – and 60,000 of those in Addis Ababa. Economic crisis, natural disaster, war, poverty and family problems are just some of the factors that have driven the children to the streets. The average age at which children first find themselves homeless is between the age of 10 and 11 years.

Farrell visited GOAL’s drop-in and rehabilitation ChildSPACE centre in the capital, which aims to provide basic life necessities and utimately skills and education access to help the children create a better life for themselves as they reach young adulthood. At the moment, Ireland rugby players Leo Cullen and Ian Madigan are also witnessing the work there with Cullen writing about his experiences on his first day:

The children face massive challenges every day, not only ensuring that they stay safe, but finding food and basically getting from one day to the next. And despite all this, they seemed delighted to see us. We played a few games with them, including rugby. They even sang a few songs for us. And no, I didn’t sing one back!

We also heard about some of the journeys the kids had made to arrive in Addis in the first place. Some of them had run away from home; for others, their parents had died. And they had come from all over; other cities, rural areas, from all over the country in fact.

Madigan wrote that the philosophy behind the GOAL project is not to see the children as victims but to enable them where they can “by reuniting them with their families, by providing them with counselling, training, and many other services”.

The following are portraits from Leon Farrell which show children and young people living on the streets, and also at the ChildSPACE centre:

Photo essay: The street children of Addis Ababa
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  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    A young boy waiting for Leo Cullen and Ian Madigan to arrive in Addis Ababa © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    At the ChildSMART drop-in centre © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    Sixteen-year-old Naeman Mohammed who has been living on the streets with her six-month-old child Esida © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    Abdel lived on the streets when he was 8 years old and is now 17. He went to the ChildSPACE project at the age of 10 and now hopes to work in construction. © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    Demeru, who used to live on the streets, now runs a fast food counter helping her pay for rent. © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    Ian Madigan helps Meskerem Tocha wash her clothes at the ChildSPACE centre. © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    Seada Werku, 17, has learned to cook and left life on the streets two years ago. © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    Nuria sells tea and coffee to pay for rent and she is no longer on the street. © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    Asnaku, 9 years old. © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    Sisters Semira and Nuria with their tea and coffee stall. © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
  • Streets of Addis Ababa

    A 14-year-old mother and her child arrive at the ChildSPACE project. © Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Irish rugby stars stunned by tales of 7-year-olds living rough on Ethiopian streets>

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