Mengesha Gebreyes and Freiwhot Gugsa

Husband and wife teachers and themselves parents to four children, Mengesha (director), and Freiwhot (principal), founded Raey in 2003. Moved by the poverty, disease and suffering of many children in their community, they pooled together their meager savings and together with some local church members they rented a small shed in the Yerer suburb of Addis Ababa. They believed that education was the only way out for these most destitute children and, being teachers by profession, felt it was their duty to help. It was soon obvious that the children needed more than education; most were orphaned or living with HIV, many were malnourished and some even homeless.

The husband and wife team also recognized that to support the children they must also empower the community. Aside from becoming the principal of Raey, Freiwhot is also the inspiration and driving force behind a women’s HIV support centre and a separate programme to support elders in the community.

While appealing for assistance with their vision Mengesha and Freiwhot met with Dr. Carolyn Roesler and the team began to create the reality of what is Raey today. With their infectious dedication and enduring compassion, they are not just the founders of Raey but are also responsible for its day-to-day running.