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Top News “In between living and death” – Ethiopian boy reunited with family after two years of abuse

“In between living and death” – Ethiopian boy reunited with family after two years of abuse

Tesfu* is safely back with his family, after being forced to work for two years in conditions so abusive that he was left malnourished and “between living and death”. 

Tesfu received an emotional welcome when he was brought safely back to his family

Due to economic hardship, Tesfu’s parents couldn’t feed or afford to send him and his younger siblings to school in South Gondar Zone, Amhara Region, Ethiopia.

They felt Tesfu, just 14 years old, had to go to another city to make money for survival. Yet following his friend’s advice, instead Tesfu found himself trafficked to Bahir Dar, capital of Amhara region.

While there, he was beaten and worked for two years without any pay. Malnourished and forced to sleep on the streets, Tesfu developed scabies, a contagious skin condition caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin.

“At that time, I couldn’t touch anything because of my skin infection. The infection started between my fingers, then covered my face and other parts of my body. I had no parental or medical care. I was in between living and death.”


Hope for Justice outreach workers met him and supported him at Bright Lighthouse, one of our safe shelters for children who have faced or are at risk of exploitation and trafficking. We provided medical treatment for Tesfu’s skin, a full medical check-up, food and a safe place to sleep at our Lighthouse. We also supported Tesfu with a three-month holistic service, including counselling, to restore him physically, mentally and emotionally.

After 114 days of restoration services at our Lighthouse, our social worker decided Tesfu was well enough to face the return trip to his family home. Tesfu’s mother wept uncontrollably as soon as she saw him.

To help ensure prevent similar incidents happening in future, our social workers also used the occasion to raise awareness about the dangers of modern slavery with the local community and the local government.

Hope for Justice provided a grant of 3,000 ETB (around $55) to support the family’s economic livelihood and provided a half-day training course on child trafficking, business skills and support, so that Tesfu and his siblings can stay safe and continue their education.

Tesfu is currently continuing his grade seven class at school. He’s healthy and is grateful to finally be home.

Tesfu greeting other family members on his return home

*Name has been changed to protect survivor’s identity

young girl