A few months ago, we were made aware of a basic and vital need for children in Ethiopia: clean underwear.
Our partners at Addis Jemari work with 50 families in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and provide educational programming, monthly financial support, medical assistance, life skills training, financial literacy training, counseling services and more. There are over 100 children among the families in the Family Empowerment Program.
One thing Addis Jemari discovered while doing some baseline health assessments for each child a few months ago was that very few of the children had clean underwear. Many weren’t wearing any at all, and those that were had dirty pairs which had been turned inside out. Hearing this broke our hearts.
We learned about this around Christmas last year and immediately called on our friends, family, and followers to offer some support. By purchasing underwear — as well as vitamins and other health needs — through the Addis Jemari Amazon Wishlist, 101 children in the FEP received a new pair of underwear by Ethiopian Christmas. This was such an incredible thing to witness, and we can’t thank everyone enough for helping.
But unfortunately, access to clean underwear (or water to be able to wash their underwear) is just the tip of the iceberg. Most households residents of Addis Adaba and surrounding areas are not properly treating water before drinking it, which can lead to illness, according to a demographic and health survey from 2017. And only 7% of rural households have access to water and soap to be able to wash their hands.
In the data, WHO and UNICEF, found that areas in Ethiopia that had more wealth also had greater access to soap and water for proper handwashing. Regular bathing is a luxury the majority of Ethiopians do not have. This should not be the case. Humans should have an equitable right to healthy living regardless of their socio-economic background.
Hygiene is something Addis Jemari will be focusing even more on because of needs like this. They have started a health and hygiene program with one of their first goals providing children with appropriate undergarments. While they continue to do this, they’ll also begin a vitamin program for families — a simple yet crucial way to help households stay healthy.
Additionally, families will be able to wash their clothes, including undergarments, at the FEP center in Addis Adaba, as well as shower there once a week. These measures will improve public health in the area — a major way to support and empower these families as they work to improve their lives through education and income-generating activities. Imagine going to school without clean clothes or trying to get a job when you haven’t properly washed. Not only is hygiene important for the body but also the spirit.
Addis Jemari is an incredible organization and we’re so excited to continually support them.