post Listros

September 15th, 2010

Filed under: The Unspoken — Admassu @ 11:10

The Art of Survival

It was in the year 2003 that I met Dawit Shanko in Hamburg. Dawit, an architect who lived in Berlin. Dawit was in Hamburg presenting his newly established project “Listros” (Shoeshine boys).

He told me that as he was a small boy, he also has tried to finance his school utensils through shoe-shining. Because of this crucial and unforgettable life experience, Dawit has taken it as his priority task to make the world understand the hardship behind being a listro in Addis Abeba and in other towns of Ethiopia.

Music and multimedia by Admassu M.K.

The most important part of the project was to let the listro boys tell their own stories themselves. It was not an easy task to implement this idea. Since the most valuable possessions this kids have are their shoeshine boxes, an external support to provide them with an appropriate medium to help them express their situation was necessary.

Dawit was conscious about the huge expense that would be needed to start with. He was fortunate enough to organize the first step. This first step was to collect a number of compact photo cameras. After managing to buy as many cameras as possible, Dawit flew to Ethiopia. In Debre Zeit (a town 41 km south of Addis), Dawit gave those cameras to the listros of the town as gift. In return, the listro boys have agreed to take pictures of each other and give Dawit the negatives.

Things went quite well and as planned. The most surprising part of this procedure was the quality of the photographs taken by the listros. The pictures were brilliant and unexpectedly poetic. After coming back from Ethiopia and developing the photos, Dawit had a great motivation and a strong basis to proceed with the project to the next step.

Today, Listros project is a strong association. Many known German, Ethiopian and International artists present their creation under the title of “Listros”. The association organizes art exhibitions, discussion forums and workshops around the topic that deals with the conditions of shoeshine boys and street kids of Ethiopia. Those photographs by the listro boys are very famous and are still the most valuable emblem of the association.

The multimedia presentation from above was my contribution to the project. All pictures in this presentation were taken by the creative listro kids from Debre Zeit.

Please visit the Listros site to inform yourself more about the project or to take part.

Listros: A Dream in a Box (

1 Comment »

  1. Dawit, you are my hero. Some people are not dare enough to talk about their poverished past history. But you not only broke this barrier but also went a long way to help the forgoten. Thanks to you let me some thing about my self. I was a listro from 1992-97. Our working place was named as did mas cha. We were 17 listros in that place. And we named our littelet bussiness as ”Dust and Mud Prevention Enterprise” Out of these listros only 2 are joined University. I am the one. Now I am the lawyer. So please Dawit if any thing I can do don’t hesitate to order me.

    Comment by Tewodros — 15. October 2011 @ 23:58

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