A new centre providing accommodation, schooling and technical and vocational training for street children has opened in Addis Ababa.

Don Bosco Children is located in the Nefas Silk Lafto area of the capital and is run by the Salesian fathers of Don Bosco, which already has other projects in the capital. It has eight dormitories, six workshops, a canteen, a large auditorium, a library, nine classrooms and several large courtyards and play areas and it can accommodate up to 160 children on a live-in basis and a further 190 during the day.

The centre is the result of a project supported by Italian non-governmental organisations Volontariato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo (VIS) and Amici del Sidamo.

There are an estimated 70,000 street children in Addis Ababa and the number is growing by about five per cent annually. Most of the youngsters come from rural areas and are either orphans or have severed ties with heir families in a bid to escape poverty and hunger. They live in precarious conditions in makeshift shelters above or below ground, in tunnels, sewers and even drainage holes, and they are often involved in petty crime and solvent abuse.