Solomon, 16 years old, lives in a small town in Ethiopia. He lost his mother at a young age and later on lost his father due to illness. He was left in the hands of his step mother who neglected him and he had no other choice but to live with his cousin. The humanitarian response project team identified him and provided him with individual protection assistance and counselling support. His mental well-being is now restored and he is committed to pursuing his education.
Solomon lived with his father and stepmother in a small town in Ethiopia. He would attend school regularly and look after cattle thereafter. He was very focused and ambitious. He lost his mother when he was only three years old. He does not really remember much about his mother. His father was his everything, acting as a mother and a father at a time. As time went his father decided to marry another woman due to his inability to conduct both household chores and other activities. The introduction of step mother to Solomon’s family impacted his mental well-being negatively and he started to feel inferior in the face of his step mother. Thankfully, his father was always by his side and he was able to cope with the challenges.
Unfortunately, one traumatic situation changed his life forever. During the invasion of Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPFL) in 2021, his father got critically ill and could not be able to move in search of medical treatment. Sadly, he passed away at that critical time when Solomon was in need of love, care and protection. He felt hopeless, unloved and lost. To make things worse, his step mother, someone he thought would be there for him, completely neglected him. She did not care about his school attendance, his personal hygiene, if he had any food and even started to exploit him. “I was living in a difficult condition where there was no hope and a bright future. Imagining life without schooling is just living for nothing for me.” Solomon explains.
With the troubles he was facing, Solomon decided that it was best to look for a relative who can help him. Luckily, he managed to move in with his cousin, living in a small room in an area that is not conducive for children to live in. He resumed school although he would travel 10kms per day to attend a class. He would get exhausted and extremely tired and hungry but this did not deter him from his goal, he was still committed to going to school.
In March 2022, Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ case workers conducted an identification and registration exercise of children at risk in Ataye. That is when they met Solomon and his cousin and talked to them about how they can be supported by the project. He was registered after his situation was assessed and was provided various support. Firstly he received Individual protection assistance, an amount of 97 Euros which he used to buy clothes,scholastic materials (school bag, exercise book, pen and pencil) and food. He also received psychosocial support and counselling for his psychosocial stress that has helped him cope with his situation. Lastly, he was made aware of child protection issues (access to education, child marriage, child labour exploitation).
Solomon is now back in school, feeling empowered. His mental wellbeing has been restored, he engages in positive coping mechanisms and is more focused on his studies. The case workers frequently conduct visits to find out how he is fairing on. He has made good progress and is very committed to finish his studies. The memory of how his father died due to lack of proper medical care taunts him everyday. He is determined to finish school and equip himself in the healthcare profession to support others who are on the verge of losing their lives as a result of lack of proper medical care. Speaking about his future, Solomon says, “My dream is to become a health professional to reach out to those who couldn’t as a memory of my father.”