Yedenek is 13. In some ways, she’s a typical teenage girl from Shola, a community built on the edge of a bustling market near Addis, Ethiopia. Like hundreds of others in Shola, Yedenek shares a make-shift house made from mud and cardboard. Her mum works all hours to try and sell enough produce to keep the family afloat. But in other ways, Yedenek is extraordinary.
Thanks to her sponsor, Yedenek is not only going to school, she’s training to become a professional footballer.
“I don’t exactly remember the day I joined Compassion,” explains Yedenek. “However, I remember my mother was very happy and things started to change at our house a few months after I joined the programme.”
Yedenek's mum Tsehay took her to be registered when she was 7 years old. Caring for her three children and elderly mother on her own, Tsehay was struggling to live off the small income she earns from her trading business. Hearing of the Compassion programme, she went to the local church praying for a miracle. The team at Maker Church immediately saw the family’s need. Yedenek joined the programme and was found a sponsor.
For the first time in her life, Yedenek was able to go to school.
“One of the things that made me happy is the fact that I was equal with my classmates when it came to owning the necessary things for school,” says Yedenek. “I always had my school bag, enough exercise books, pens, pencils, uniform. I never once felt that I was inferior to anyone nor did I complain of lacking anything I needed in school.”
Yedenek goes to school from 8 in the morning to half 3 in the afternoon. Then, on many afternoons, she goes to the Compassion project run by the church. It’s here that Yedenek has discovered a passion and a talent for sport.
“I would like to be an engineer or a professional football player when I finish school,” she explains. “I would be very happy if I ended up being a football player.”
At the project, Yedenek is famous for her love of football and skills on the pitch. From the very first day she started playing, project social worker Hirut Fekade has helped her develop her passion and arranged extra training.
“If Yedenek is on our team, our opponent’s confidence of winning diminishes and we win easily,” he describes. “Even in her school, I know that she spends every break time she has playing football.”
In a community where girls are often denied access to the classroom, let alone the football pitch, Yedenek gives thanks for the opportunities her sponsor has given her.
“My dream is to play football when I grow up. I want to play for my country on the girl’s national football team. Playing football is what makes me very happy."
Give opportunity to a girl like Yedenek