Yodit Lema (false name), 15, is now leading a healthy and an independent life with her mother and two elder sisters after completing her rehabilitation training program supported by Terre des Hommes Netherlands TDH and run by FSCE in Adama city, Oromia Regional State, Ethiopia.


 

After quitting school from Grade 8 and passing through difficult times, Yodit is now safe and far away from the risk of sexual exploitation. Currently, she is attending her education in a nearby school.

Yodit was born in Adama City and still lives in of the slum area of the same city called Birca where most of the dwellings are congested and dilapidated. A number of hotels, bars and traditional bars found abundantly in the area are believed to put children at risk of various abuses and exploitations.

Yodit lives with her mother and two elder sisters in a single-room house rented from the government. After her father, who was the only source of livelihood for the family, died, her mother has to shoulder the entire burden to fulfill the basic needs of the family. However, the meager income that her mother brought home was not enough; Yodit and her sisters have to support their mother. Hence, Yodit started selling cooked potatoes, which she did on the streets and by going to different bars and hotels during the night time.

Yodit describes this time as challenging and as being potentially so dangerous that it could have ruined her life forever. “I was forced to quit school. Besides, while selling the cooked potatoes, I F S C E Annual Report 2013 // 19 encountered so many challenges which were too much for my age.”

She said that sexual assault was one of the serious challenges she and other girls faced while doing their work during the night time. Customers in the bars and even others on the streets tried to have sex with her in exchange for money. Some even tried to use force. They insulted her. They didn’t want to pay for the potatoes they were served.

“All the time I faced such a problem, I was very frightened as I had no guarantee that I was not exposed to sexual assault and robbery,” said Yodit, remembering those ugly nights on the streets.

It is after all this hardship that FSCE, Adama Area Program Office, intervened in her life. Yodit got various supports such as vocational skills training in hair-dressing, basic business training, and life skills training. After completing her vocational skills training, Yodit started working in the same vocational skills training center with a monthly salary of 650 Birr. Yodit said, “I am now happy. If I work hard, my dreams and aspirations will be real. I am now leading a peaceful life. I am now able to support my family who need my support.”

Yodit added, “If it had not been for the support of FSCE, I would have faced serious problems. I thank FSCE, TDH and the staff for what they did for me.” She continued, “This experience in my life has taught me a lot. I will not go back to that life again and I will also share my experience to other children as it could be a lesson for them to learn from.”

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