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Inner-Family Adoption in Ethiopia

Aloh came to Lelt for assistance late in life – in his 60s – a life marked by struggle, perseverance, profound setbacks, and modest triumph. While most of his peers were grandparents, Aloh, and his wife Lemi, were raising their young niece and nephew just when their own four children were nearly grown. Always one to give what he could, now Aloh needed help.

Aloh was born in a town in the south of Ethiopia in 1956. His village had a school, but most of the kids did not attend because they were needed at home. Like many children of the village, Aloh helped his parents with the family farm instead of getting an education. None of his siblings in his large family went to school.

His village didn’t have a doctor, so death was a common story as he grew up. Five of his older sisters died as young women, mostly due to complications in childbirth. Filled with grief at the loss of his sisters and wanting more security and opportunities in his future, Aloh asked his parents if he could move to the capital city Addis Ababa and live with a cousin. He was 14 when he came to live in Karakore, on the outskirts of the city, to work for his relatives weaving linens and textiles on a traditional Ethiopian loom.

By age 20, he met and married Lemi and together they rented a small home of their own. He started his own weaving business and the couple had four children together. After some years, Aloh’s younger brother, Antsa, left their village to work with him in Karakore. Antsa and his wife had two children, a son Zekarias and daughter Aynet. For a time, the two blended families lived a full and happy life together in Karakore.

After several years, Antsa became very ill with a severe respiratory condition. Aloh did not want to lose his baby brother and see him suffer as he did with his sisters. Aloh took Antsa to several different hospitals, hoping to find treatment and a cure.

Antsa did not survive despite his brother’s efforts, and left behind his wife and two young children. Overwhelmed with the burden of having 2 children and no work, Antsa’s wife left home and never returned. Zekarias, who was then four years old, and Aynet, 7, had lost both their parents. So Aloh and Lemi cared for them as their own.

Aloh struggled to earn enough to support the entire family. They often went without meals. All six children attended public school in Karakore, but registration fees and the cost of uniforms were more than Aloh could afford. Instead of having his children drop out of school, he begged his neighbors for money.

Zekarias and Aloh, May 2019

Then one day, a Lelt team member and a representative from the Ethiopian government’s family division visited the local elementary school Zekarias attended. They spoke to the administration about providing assistance to disadvantaged and orphaned children. Zekarias, by then seven years old, told our team his story, and shortly thereafter we met with Aloh and Lemi.

The family enrolled in Lelt’s assistance programs, receiving monthly food rations and household necessities. Lelt covered Zekarias’s school expenses and he came to our Community Center every day for a nutritious lunch. Aloh enrolled in Lelt’s Business Creation Seminar and has expanded his business through Lelt’s micro-loan program.

He said, “without Lelt’s assistance, I would still be struggling to put food on our family table. Through this I have been able to expand my business and my profits have risen. This gives my family a peace of mind that we didn’t have before, and I don’t know where we’d be without the help.” To provide life-altering assistance to another family in crisis, please Sponsor A Child.

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