I’m Mahder. I’m 12 and I love running, playing volleyball and watching Ethiopian Pop Idol. My dad was a tailor. He died a few years ago. When he was alive I went to school and always had enough to eat. I was so sad when he died. I went to school for a month and then the money ran out and I had to stop going. When my friends went to school, I would cry all day. I didn’t do much apart from look at old school books and help mum. I felt frustrated and angry. Mum has to work day and night just so we can survive. She has many jobs. She sorts beans at the coffee board, carries heavy bricks at the construction site and sometimes works as a cleaner. She’s often tired. My little brother Nathaniel, who’s 6, is very sick. I help Mum look after him. It makes me upset when we clean his sores because he’s in pain. He’s too ill to go to school, so I’m teaching him to read and write. It makes me angry that not all children in Ethiopia get the chance to go to school.
I am Sofia from Tanzania. I am 13 years old and one of seven in my family. I would really like to go to school one day and be like the other girls in their school uniforms. I know if I go to school, one day I will be able to help my family as I will get a good job that pays well. I used to spend my days herding cattle and goats for my father but most of them died because of the drought. Right now my father is very sick and they have taken him to a distant hospital for treatment - I wish I could do something to help him. These days, I help my mother selling fruits at market as well as doing my chores at home. And, when my mother gets sick, I have to go to the market alone as we need that money to buy food and other necessities.