Many children in Ethiopia have butterflies in their stomach, as, after a closedown of six months, schools are reopening in the country. For 13 year old Felegush this is just her second back to school. It was only last year that she set foot in a classroom for the first time in her life, after being trafficked twice. She joins Grade 2 in her pursuit to become a teacher.
Hailing from a broken family, Felegush grew up with her grandmother after her parents divorced. There was barely enough money for food, and education was not considered a priority for the girl. Instead, at the age of ten, Felegush was sent from her rural home to Gondar town to become a child domestic worker. The girl was exploited for a year in the household in Gondar. “I felt miserable working as a house maid at a young age - I was treated inhumanely and without any sympathy,” she recalls.
As if the girl was some kind of tradable commodity, she was trafficked to the capital Addis Ababa, 650 kilometres away from Gondar, without informing her family. In Addis she was forced to work in yet another household. Day in, day out she did all the household chores demanded of her. Until suddenly, after approximately a year, she was thrown out, without any payment. All by herself with no place to go, Felegush roamed the streets, until after two days she met a good hearted stranger. This lady took the girl to the local police.
From Addis Ababa Felegush travelled back to Gondar, where the police involved our local partner ANPPCAN Ethiopia under the Paths to Safer Childhood project. ANPPCAN Ethiopia took care of tracing Felegush’ family. In September 2019 she was reunified with her family, just before the schools opened for the new school year. As part of our support, the girl was assisted to join Primary School for the first time in her life. “I felt delighted!”
It was to become the strangest school year for every student in Ethiopia. Schools closed at the beginning of the second semester, when Covid-19 broke out in the country. That marked the end of the school year, as education was not resumed until October. With the school re-opening, students who had good results at the end of the first semester have been promoted to the next grade. Felegush is one of them.
Who knew that a year after joining school, one of her biggest hobbies is reading books. Felegush is smart - last year she received some money to buy school supplies. Instead of buying this directly, she invested in sheep. The sheep give her little income, enough to buy school supplies every time she needs them. No wonder that her dream is to become a teacher in mathematics and science.