<h2>Who are the LISTROS?<h2>

Listros are young people who, with handmade shoeshine boxes, work in the streets of Ethiopia. The word Listro comes from the Latin word "Lustra" and means "make it shine". Shoeshiners in Ethiopia and their handmade shoeshine boxes are also called Listro.

In connection with LISTROS DAY we use the term "LISTROS" for all young boys and girls, who need to earn money. LISTROS do not only work as shoe shiners, but also as errand boys, ticket sellers, newspaper boys, shepherds, fruit sellers, maids, waitresses and in lots of other little jobs.

According to Addis Ababa police the majority of Listros currently come to Addis Ababa from the southern region of Wolaita to get an education and earn money to support themselves and their families.

For generations, young Ethiopians have had to pursue jobs to improve their living conditions and to finance their education. Much of what the Listros learn for their futures is learned outside the classroom. A sense of responsibility, duty, identity, and the ability to connect to others are all things that are high on the extracurricular agenda. As a result there are ten thousands of former LISTROS who built their careers. At the same time hundred thousands of young LISTROS today take fate into their own hands and fight poverty in Ethiopia.

The Listro’s dream begins on the ground polishing shoes. He or she stands at the bottom of the stairway, contemplating the path upwards toward a successful future. This is a solid starting point to keep moving forward.

Education plays a vital role in this and is therefore considered very important in Ethiopia. School attendance in itself is free, but parents must pay for school materials and obligatory school uniforms. When their parents cannot pay for their education, the Listros take fate into their own hands and many start to work. With their hard-earned money, they can both help their families and finance their education.

Paradoxically, their initiative leads to a dilemma. Due to the additional responsibility that a job adds alongside schoolwork, the young Listros do not have enough free time. This leads, often enough, to poor school results and early school leaving. Many experience this as a personal failure, and there is a resulting lack of confidence. This, in turn, engenders passivity and a loss of incentive to shape the future.

We are, nonetheless, convinced that a LISTROS is a pillar of self-confidence. Taking these young entrepreneurs as an example, LISTROS DAY is to commemorate everything Ethiopians have ever done to fight poverty. We want to encourage and remember the work of a nation of fighters who refuse to accept the poverty allotted to them. We want to acknowledge all the work that the citizens of Ethiopia, young and old, have done to tackle the problems that restrict them.

Since 2003, LISTROS ASSOCIATION in Berlin, Germany has created interdisciplinary projects to support the youth in Ethiopia and to better their living situation. This position is enshrined in the Declaration of Principles of LISTROS ASSOCIATION. Child labor, where children are forced to work under exploitative conditions instead of attending school, is vehemently opposed and condemned in the strongest terms. Child labor is understood here as depriving children of their childhood and also a happy life as an adult. The Listros Association combats child labor, which prevents the development of the child – it must be forbidden, as children working under these conditions is reprehensible.

But we do acknowledge that reality in Ethiopia currently demands tremendous efforts from young people. We do hope that in future progressively fewer young Ethiopians will have to work at an early age and that following generations will face better opportunities so that one day the LISTROS will become legendary in Ethiopia.