15-year-old Halima comes from the rural Amhara region in Ethiopia. Her mother is the sole income provider who supports the family through agriculture and livestock rearing. Halima was tasked with cleaning the house, herding, milking the cattle, fetching water from remote distances which put her safety at risk, as well as other duties that were imposed on her. The workload became too much that Halima was forced to drop out of school in January 2021. Feeling frustrated, exhausted and alone, Halima ran away from home four months later.
Halima fled to Metema, a town in Northwestern Ethiopia to escape the heavy chores that were borne on her. She roamed the streets in search of a job as a domestic worker for about two weeks, only for her fate to take a turn for the worse. A trafficker put her to work in a café that is located in Gallabat, a marketplace in Sudan that borders Ethiopia. The workload was not any lighter. For 10 hours a day, Halima cleaned, took out waste materials and performed other duties with little to no pay.
Halima decided to seek help from the Ethiopian immigration workers. They placed her in a temporary shelter as she waited to be reunified with her family. She was not only given accommodation, but also psychosocial support and counselling. Her trafficking case was also reported to the police and investigations are still ongoing. Luckily, after successful family tracing, Halima was re-integrated back home.
Halima´s mother was informed about the risk of heavy chores on children and how it subsequently can lead to their trafficking. Through the help of partners like Mahibere Hiwot for Social Development, Halima´s mother has changed the way she distributes chores among her children. Halima and her siblings assist with chores that coincide with their ages and capacity.
Currently, Halima is back at home. She is set to go back to school in September 2021 and reads a lot to prepare herself. Enthusiastic about her future, Halima explained. ¨I want to be a psychologist as I want to counsel girls who need strong support and guidance.”