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Early Christmas for the needy

Early Christmas for the needy

The charity group, Bright Star Relief and Development, known to operate a number of schools in the capital for vulnerable populations, including the homeless, sex workers and abandoned children hosted an early brunch and a gift-giving ceremony at the hall of the Merchandise and Wholesale Enterprise on Thursday. The group wanted to highlight the ideals of holiday; charity and brotherhood to people that are struggling during the holiday season.

The group that celebrated its 20th anniversary last October saw as an estimated crowd of 1,000 people who came to be reminded of the giving season and be fed by volunteers, which also included the Swedish ambassador, Torbjörn Pettersson.

Sweden is the major donor of the group that began funding it 17 years ago.

“I celebrate two Christmas holidays; the Ethiopian Christmas and the one on December 25th which I celebrate at my home church in Sweden,” the ambassador of Sweden told the gathering. “I am here to solidify the importance of the relationship.”

The ambassador held a number of conversations with some of the young people who shared with him the narrative of their lives on the street, the widespread issues of addiction, the scarce social safety nets that are available to them and lack of opportunities.

 “I am either 16 or 17 and excuse me, I don’t know my exact age,” a young man said. “I have no home, no hope and nowhere to go.” My dream is to find a job. Can you help me with that?” he asked the ambassador.

“We have mended lives, changed the biographies of many young people because of our collaboration with your people,” Gizachew Ayka told the ambassador. “That is the true message of Christmas.”

Bright Star operates Entoto and Gurara Freedom schools, including a number of transitional homes providing free education, medical care, school supplies and food to hundreds of people. Among its graduates are medical doctors, engineers, according to Gizachew.