Who we are
121ethiopia was founded in 2005 by artist Olafur Eliasson and art historian Marianne Krogh Jensen. Based in Berlin, Copenhagen, and Zurich, the small, international NGO works to improve the lives and conditions of vulnerable children in Ethiopia.
121ethiopia uses funds from the HEKLA Foundation to support carefully selected projects in Ethiopia. Through close cooperation with local partners in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who also facilitate the daily work on the ground, 121ethiopia is able to gain an intimate understanding of the Ethiopian context and maintain local ownership of the projects. We strongly believe that such collaboration is indispensible for the projects’ successful and sustainable implementation.
121ethiopia is committed to continuously reflecting on, rethinking, and adjusting our activities to accommodate the children’s specific and current needs. We periodically bring in professional experts for quality assessment. This independent assessment helps our work stay constantly appropriate to its context and informed by recent studies, and it ensures that our projects maintain the highest possible quality and achieve their intended results.
What we do
121ethiopia works to improve the lives and conditions of vulnerable children in Ethiopia. Our work focuses on single mothers because they are often forced to abandon their children and on children living in orphanages because they are in transition to permanent homes and caregivers. Such conditions and physical and psychological transitions often put children in a state of severe stress, strain their psychosocial development, and require special care. Whether these transitions take place across short or long distances, they are lifelong processes that greatly influence the child’s development. We work to strengthen the relationship between single mother and child, and to soften the transitions for children living in orphanages, reducing the stress caused by these transitions in order to lay a foundation for a safe, enjoyable childhood and the children’s healthy lifelong development. All our projects aim to fulfil key aspects of this overall goal.
We work within the following areas:
Supporting Single Mothers
Through the Birth Right Project, we support single mothers and help them cultivate their relationship with their children to ensure that the mothers are empowered and do not abandon their children. The programme develops individual psychological, social, and financial support plans for each mother participating in the programme, based on the mother's resources and needs. The support offered always works first and foremost to strengthen the relationship between mother and child and then to build up a supportive network for the mother and child in their local community. By creating a local network, the Birth Right Project makes sure that the mother and child continue to have support after the project itself has ended. In the long term, the Birth Right Project helps children grow up with their mothers, in their local communities, which strengthens the local social capital and fosters a bottom-up social support system in Ethiopia.
Through the 121 Caregiver Training Programme (CTP), we support the education of Ethiopian caregivers to ensure higher standards of childcare in orphanages. This programme helps the caregivers develop their knowledge, skills, and ability to continue learning, and become more sensitive and responsive to the specific needs of children in orphanages. The training programme is based on the personal experiences of the participating caregivers. To make sure that the effects of the programme are lasting, it is organised in three stages: learning, bringing the knowledge gained into daily practices, and sharing it with other caregivers. The programme also reaches out to managers of orphanages, in order to build support and help the caregivers implement what they learn. 121ethiopia began CTP in 2011 and continues to adjust and develop the programme to make sure it is appropriate to the context of Ethiopia.
Supporting Ethiopian Orphanages
Since 2005 we have collaborated with both private and state-run orphanages in Addis Ababa to establish safe, caring, and stimulating environments. This is crucial for children undergoing stressful transitions. We focus both on psychosocial aspects of childcare, such as daily caregiving routines and practices, and on physical improvements to the orphanages themselves through renovation of facilities. We work to upgrade our partner orphanages through developing appropriate caregiving tools and practices. All of our work is based on close dialogue with the Ethiopian orphanages, with whom we exchange knowledge and inspiration.
Local Community Support
In two subcities of Addis Ababa, 121ethiopia supports sponsorship programmes for local children and their families. These programmes help secure the children’s schooling and overall well-being by giving the families financial support in the form of school materials, medical assistance, home visits, and counselling. Financial and medical support is also extended to local elders. These sponsorship programmes enable children to remain with their families and in their trusted environment, thus preventing the lifelong traumas and a sense of loss that dislocation may cause.
Exchange of Knowledge, Tools of Practice, and Skills
Through exchanging knowledge and information with experts and local partners, 121ethiopia continuously works to improve and develop our approach and tools of practice to make sure our work is best practice. Furthermore, we aim to strengthen local partner institutions by transferring to them professional skills, information, training, and appropriate technology.
Vision and values
We feel a social responsibility for vulnerable children in Ethiopia, and we seek to live up to this responsibility through a child-first approach, where each individual child and his or her specific circumstances constitute our point of departure. We believe in, work with, and promote the use of high ethical standards.
121ethiopia’s Vision121ethiopia’s Values
121ethiopia envisions a safe, healthy, and enjoyable childhood for vulnerable children in Ethiopia. We want to work towards this vision supporting and empowering single mothers, by training Ethiopian caregivers in methods for softening and reducing the stress of the transitions for the children, and by providing safe, caring, and stimulating environments in Ethiopian orphanages.
- Always take the child’s perspective
- Work through local partnerships and resources with respect for the local context
- Continuously share and exchange knowledge and tools of practice
- Create sustainable and lasting impact
- Encourage transforming thought into action
We believe that the exchange of knowledge and best practices constitutes an important part of improving and developing our work. As a way of facilitating such exchange, this page provides links to some of our tools of practice that might be of relevance to other organisations, institutions, and individuals. Common to all the tools is their aim to support the healthy development of a child’s identity during stressful transitions, helping children protect their life story.
If you wish to download the documents, please contact us for a password.
Ethical Guidelines for Children in Transit – a Handbook provides practical guidelines for softening transitions and reducing the stress caused by them, ensuring that the child’s future development is not negatively affected by a transition period.
121 Ethical Charter is relevant to organisations and institutions that seek inspiration on how to document their own ethical standards and values.
Personal Data Book is used as a tool to document a child’s personal data.
Child’s Book is used as a tool to document a child’s development.
Mapping of Child’s Background is used to map the psychological, physical, familial, and relational background of a child in transition. It is a tool to document and preserve a child’s life story.
How to support
121ethiopia’s work follows a one-to-one principle: one dollar donated is one dollar contributed to the project. No administrative costs are deducted from the donations. We work on a scale that allows us to carefully follow and monitor every aspect of our work, so that we can ensure that donations are spent as effectively as possible.
Money can be donated via bank transfer to the HEKLA Foundation in Germany or Switzerland, under whose auspices 121ethiopia works. United States citizens who would like to support 121ethiopia can contact: info(a)121ethiopia.org
Account name: Hekla Foundation gGmbH Bank: GLS Bank
Bank number: 43060967
Account number: 1126396500
IBAN: DE29 4306 0967 1126 3965 00
To make a donation in Swiss Francs, please use this number:
Account name: Hekla Stiftung
Account number: 230-368792.40N
IBAN: CH25 0023 0230 3687 9240 N
To make a donation in Euros, please use this number:
Account name: Hekla Stiftung Bank: UBS
Account number: 230-368792.61K
IBAN: CH54 0023 0230 3687 9261 K
To make a donation in US Dollars, please use this number:
Account name: Hekla Stiftung
Account number: 230-368792.60P
IBAN: CH97 0023 0230 3687 9260 P
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