Our Story


More than four million children in Ethiopia have been orphaned by AIDS in a country with no societal safety net. The overwhelming majority are separated from their siblings and abandoned to the streets. Some are placed in orphanages where they routinely encounter violence, predation or abuse.

These children are joined in poverty by millions of displaced women who have lost their adult children and husbands to AIDS.  


The Selamta Project creates new, stable, and life-long families for children to repair the social fabric of their society.

For the past six years, we have tested the power of a formula that takes children from the streets, reunites them with lost siblings, stabilizes them emotionally, and creates a new family around them. In the process, we have established new family homes in a constellation around a center that serves newly arriving children and the community at large.

Children simply deserve room to grow in a predictable home, supported with proper nutrition, health care, education and love.

The Selamta Project is proving that these objectives are not beyond our reach. Selamta is a unique and successful model, and our mission is to grow into a platform for positive change throughout Ethiopia, Africa and beyond.

  Why is Selamta different? Selamta doesn’t help orphans: it creates families. According to Unicef and other leading organizations for children, stable families are the most successful model for social change and renewal.

Here’s what makes Selamta unique:

Every Selamta family comprises a mother, an “auntie”, and up to 9 siblings ranging in age from infants to young adults. Some children are biological siblings; others become siblings. All are fiercely loyal brothers and sisters, and share remarkably strong bonds of love and commitment.

Selamta families accept older children and large sibling groups. We work to reunite siblings who have been separated and bring them together.

The women of Selamta have created a strong peer-to-peer support network and meet at least once a week.The mothers and aunties of Selamta are women who have been marginalized by society. They receive training to help them succeed at parenting and running a household and attend ongoing workshops that cover topics ranging from issues specific to orphan care such as trauma, loss, and signs of depression to parenting, nutrition, and budgeting.

Half of the youth at Selamta are female and we encourage them to be leaders in their community.Our girls are members of the Selamta Parliament, a group of youth, moms, & staff who meet to discuss various matters concerning Selamta. 
At the close of last school year 17 of our girls ranked among the top 10 students in their individual class.

No one “ages out” at Selamta.Selamta families are not temporary fixes. Rather, they are life-long families and will remain so even as the children of Selamta become adults and raise families of their own.

Selamta families keep Ethiopian children in their own culture, strengthening the fabric of their communities. Each Selamta family is well integrated in their neighborhood, and the stigma of AIDS is falling away as friends and neighbors realize these are families like any other.

Selamta provides its families with HIV/AIDS prevention education to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in future generations.

Selamta includes an outreach program, designed to support families in the community who are caring for children who have lost parents. The Selamta model recognizes that maintaining primary family ties is the best solution for children who have been orphaned.