One Love Theater was founded in 1998 by a group of children in Awassa who organized themselves and began practicing gymnastics in the streets. Calling themselves Debub Nigat (Southern Dawn) Circus and winning competions, they attracted the attention of local Awassan Aster Dabels who lived part-time in Germany. She and a friend, Dr. Hermann Hunzinger, began to donate money to feed the children and pay their school tuition. In 2002, with the help of American theater director David Schein, the troupe put together a performance that delivered crucial HIV/AIDS awareness messages. Thus began the concept of the AIDS Education Circus. In the same year the town of Awassa donated land to establish the Debub Nigat Circus and Vocational Training Center. With a small grant from The American Embassy the Circus then began touring towns in Southern Ethiopia.
Since 2002 One Love has performed for hundreds of thousands of people in markets and schools throughout Ethiopia. They were instrumental in founding the Awassa Children's Center - an orphanage for children who have lost their parents to AIDS. They have been the pathway to education and employment for hundreds of children in Awassa. One Love has worked for the UN in the Sherkole Refugee Camp with Sudanese youth, helping them create their own land-mine awareness theater. They have toured the tribal areas of the Omo Valley. In 2008 they performed in the National Theater of Ethiopia in Adis Ababba. Their graduates have gone on to star in circuses in Europe and the USA and one of them, Tokichaw, is now a pop music star in Ethiopia. One Love's shows not only touch upon AIDS prevention but also tackle issues such as khat addiction, female circumcision, forced marriage and deforestation. In 2010 they premiered the "GENDER EQUALITY SHOW which they presently tour. Spin-off programs include the Awassa Children's Center, Long Live the Girls, the Vermont Ethiopia Teacher Exchange and Aikido Ethiopia. Over the years One Love has grown into one of the most exciting and progressive theater companies in East Africa, making opportunities for Ethiopian youth, spearheading the fight to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and promoting gender equality.