“My Journey in Pefan” by Shani Senbetta

"My Journey in Pefan" by Shani Senbetta 

July 13, 2008


2008 Greeen season bulletin

Seekers was privileged to hear the story of Pefan (www.pefan.org) a nonprofit organization offering help to the homeless and underserved children and their families on the streets of Adis Ababa in Ethiopia.  "The main hope and goal of PEFAN is that the children and youth under its care will one day become self-sufficient and contributing members of Ethiopian society."


Through the stories she told of the way that individual children had moved her, brought her joy and saddened her we heard the story of how Shani had grown spiritually through her commitment to providing love and support to as many children and their families that she and Pefan possibly could.


Shani spoke passionately and extemporaneously using the outline below about the accomplishments and dreams for the future of an agency working against all odds to bring peace and justice to a suffering world and bring about the Kingdom of God.


1)       How PEFAN started

a.       PEFAN began its work in 1999, when an Ethiopian, Mr. Fisha Tsion Tadesse, who was living in Sweden, returned to Ethiopia for to perform six months of volunteer work at a hospital in the capital city, Addis Ababa.

One morning, while working in the hospital he saw a pregnant woman sitting on the floor of the maternity ward waiting for a doctor.  He noticed that she had been sitting there waiting all morning.  After a couple of hours, he told her that the doctors would be busy for most of the day and that she would be better off going home for lunch and returning in the afternoon.  To his surprise, the woman replied that there was no point in going home because there was no food to eat there so she preferred to wait on the hospital floor until a doctor was ready to help her.  It was from this day on that Fiseha began helping the woman, her newborn child, and her family.  Soon, with the help of his friends– Anteneh (Jomo) Getenet, Shani Senbetta, Mekdes Mesfin, and many others– PEFAN grew and began to help several other young people in the community.  

Today, PREI Effort for Those Who is in Need (PEFAN) is a child and youth-focused development organization in Ethiopia without religious, political, or governmental affiliation.  PEFAN’s center is located in the Mecanisa neighborhood of Addis Ababa.  It has helped put 41 children from the ages of 4 to19 into private elementary school and has trained and secured jobs for at least 20 youths from the ages of 18 and above.

   b.      In 2004 PEFAN received NGO status from the Government of Ethiopia

   c.      In March 2008 PEFAN USA was incorporated in Washington, DC.   It’s       501(c)(3) status is pending.


2)       The holistic model

a.      PEFAN’s approach is a holistic effort that focuses on several aspects of the children’s needs: 1) education, 2) health care, 3) Nutrition 4) shelter, 5) mentoring and 6) family life.

b.      This approach limits us to a smaller number of children, but we believe increasing the quantity of children would decrease the quality of our efforts.

c.       The children call PEFAN’s center the “Home of Love”.  Showing all the children individual attention and love is the key to PEFAN’s success.


3)       Success Stories

a.      Two of the older boys Yhared and Gelana have now opened their own businesses and are helping their families financially.  Both Yhared and Gelana used to live in one of the poorest slums of Addis Ababa.  When they came to PEFAN they were enrolled in vocational schooling.  Yhared attended cooking school and went on to work at a popular café in Addis Ababa.  Gelana was trained in hairdressing and went on to work at a well-established hair salon.  Both progressed very well in their professions and were well respected among the staff.  Today Yhared used his savings to buy a mini-bus taxi and has employed two people to help him run this small business.  Gelana has opened his own hair salon in Addis Ababa.

b.      Of the 41 young children, 4 youth have taken the national university-qualifying exam.  Two children, Robel and Betti took the exam in 2007 and passed!  The other two, Banchi and Beza, took the exam in June 2008 and are awaiting the response.  Both Banchi and Beza are confident that they passed.  PEFAN is very proud of these four children for taking the exam.  They have set a new standard for the rest of the children and could be the first in their families to attend university.

c.       You are invited to read more of the children’s success stories on the website at www.pefan.org


4)       Future Vision

a.      In the future, PEFAN hopes to create other branches and centers in Addis Ababa and even outside of the capital city.  We believe very strongly in the holistic model and would like to recreate it in other parts of the city.  Some of the current PEFAN children have expressed interest in running centers like PEFAN once they have completed their studies.

b.      PEFAN is also interested in creating a network with other similar organizations that are currently working with street children in Addis Ababa.


There are several ways that PEFAN needs help.  We invite you to come to our center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to meet the children and see our work first hand.  You can contact me with any questions or ideas: ssenbetta@gmail.com.


Thank you for your time today and for listening to our story!


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