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Tizita*’s father spent long periods of time away from home working for the military, leaving her mother to provide for the family. She had just given birth to a new baby when a neighbour offered Tizita, who was 12 years old at the time, the chance to move to the city where she could go to school and have a better life.

But once Tizita arrived, she was not allowed to go to school. Instead, she was forced to cook, clean and look after a baby. She also endured verbal and physical abuse.

“When Tizita pleaded to be able to speak to her mother, her captor lied and said her mother was dead. Tizita broke down in tears.”

Distraught, Tizita ran away. A passer-by found her on the street and took her to the police station, before she was taken in by our Lighthouse.

After her ordeal, Tizita could not stop worrying about her baby brother being all alone. She would often cry, argue with other children, and would not join in. As well as providing her with catch-up education, and counselling, our team investigated whether Tizita had been told the truth about her mother.

We discovered she was alive and well, although Tizita didn’t believe it until she spoke to her mother on the phone. When Tizita heard that her mother was travelling to see her, she jumped, cried and laughed with joy. After months of trauma and separation, Tizita ran delightedly into her mother’s arms, while our team in Ethiopia celebrated the return of her hope and freedom. This photograph captured that beautiful moment.

*Name changed to protect survivor’s identity

young girl