I met Jimi at a newly constructed skate park in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is an enthusiastic and hopeful 23 year old trying his hardest to help children and young people in his country. He adopted skateboarding alongside his other passion of Taekwondo, giving up his spare time to encourage the youth to take up these practises with the hope of bettering the community and giving support and hope to the most disadvantaged. Seeing skateboarders take to the streets of Ethiopia is an unusual sight not necessarily in line with common preconceptions of the country.
He invited me to spend time with him in his home town of Hawassa and see first hand the work he is doing and problems he faces. Ethiopia has an incredibly young population with 64% being under the age of 24 of which 4.5 million orphans on a population of some 90 million. This equates to 5% of the population. Hawassas’ homeless young people often inhale petrol fumes to fight off the cold which is highly addictive and has extensive health implications. Jimi teaches them the negative affects of their addiction and encourages them to focus on sports which can better their physical and mental wellbeing. They see him as a mentor who does all he can to help without any support from government agencies or NGO's.