Across East Africa, children (mostly girls) are lured to the urban centres under the false promise of getting an education. In reality they end up being exploited as child domestic workers. Azmera Emohay, now 10 years old, was trafficked from rural Amhara Region to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa when she was only 7 years old.
“My father told me to go with his cousin. She would take care of me and send me to school. In exchange for getting an education, I would have to do light household work after school. But once I had arrived in Addis Ababa, I never got to see the school. I had to do all the housework, including fetching water in heavy jerrycans five times per day. I was working seven days a week, from early morning until late at night. The family's 6 year old daughter was not even allowed to talk to me. They constantly yelled at me, and abused me. They would kick me and beat me with a stick. If it got really bad, I would run to the neighbours’ house where I was given some food to comfort me."
"My father had agreed that I would get some money for my work, 150 Ethiopian Birr per month (about € 6.50). But they refused to pay me, claiming I had stolen a mobile phone and some cash from them. I was only getting food and shelter. During the three years I was away, I never heard from my father. Only after I had just arrived in Addis Ababa, they told me that my father had called. But all this time I knew my father was not forgetting about me.”
All this time I knew my father was not forgetting about me
Azmera’s father continues: “I was calling my cousin regularly, to see how my daughter was doing. But I never got to speak to her. They lied to me that she was out, in school, and that she was doing well. Every time I asked about the money, they said that they were keeping it for us in a safe place, and that one day we would be given the lot.”
After three years, Azmera was rescued by concerned community members, who informed the police and Terre des Hommes Netherlands' partner ANPPCAN Ethiopia. She stayed in a shelter while they were tracing her father. Once her father had been found, she travelled back to Wogera Woreda in Amhara Region to be reunited. Her father is delighted: “I never knew what was happening to her, and I am shocked to hear about the suffering she endured in the past three years. From now on I will do anything that is needed to protect her. And send her to school.” Azmera is equally happy, since all her life she has never been to school: “When I finish my education, I want to be a medical doctor.”
As part of the reunification process, Azmera and her family will be followed up regularly by our partner, to ensure she is doing well.
This picture was taken at the police station, half an hour after Azmera and her father had been reunited.