A CHILD, NOT A MAID: Derartu’s story

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Eight year-old Derartu came to the temporary shelter run by Mission for Community Development Program (MCDP) and stayed for a week. MCDP is Save the Children’s implementing partner for the Children on the Move project working to prevent unsafe migration and advance the rights of children on the move for protection, education and development.

Derartu came to Addis Abeba with her mother, Birtukan, from Shashemene. Her mother started working as a daily laborer and she rented a small house where she started living with her daughter. Life in the capital was not easy and, after a while, Birtukan tasked Derartu to work as a housemaid to earn more income. The work was very hard for little Derartu. So she ran away from home. Since then, she has never seen her mother. She was finally reunified with her father, who was frantically looking for her, with the help of MCDP and Save the Children. Derartu tells us the whole story.“I am eight years old and I have a younger sister and two brothers. It has been a while since I have seen them. I do not remember the day I came to Addis Abeba but I have stayed here for months. I came from Shasheme with my mother.

My parents had disagreements, and when my father was in prison, I was staying with my uncle in Shashemene while my siblings lived with our step mother.

After I came to Addis, my mother started working as a daily laborer. One day, she told me that I had to work in order to support her. She then took me to a house where I was doing all the house chores. I only stayed there for few days because the work was too hard for a child my age. I had to do so many things every day, like cleaning the house and washing the dishes. One day, the lady of the house hit me because I broke a glass. I immediately left that house. 

“Today is a special day for me because I met my father after so long.”

 I was scared and confused though. I did not know where to go. Then a policeman found me on the street and took me to a police station. I stayed in two police stations before I came to this house with Solomon (community worker with MCDP). He works for the organization which provides us with food and this place to stay.

As soon as I arrived here, Solomon asked me questions about my family and my village so that they could find my father. And finally they did. I like this place very much. Every day, I wake-up in the morning, eat breakfast and then play different games with my friends. Draughts are my favorite game. Here in this house, they provide us with food and bed to sleep on. They also gave me these nice clothes.

Today is a special day for me because I met my father after so long. I missed him a lot and want to go home. I am very happy that Solomon and Samrawit found my father for me. I don’t know where my mother is now. I have never seen her since she took me to the house where I was working as maid.”

The migration pattern within Ethiopia is mainly from rural to urban areas with Addis Abeba, the nation’s capital, and other large towns as primary destinations. Although migrant children come from all corners of the country, SNNPR is the leading sending area. IKEA-GCC’s, I play, I learn and I am safe, which is also known as ‘Children on the Move’ project will directly reach 26,500 children and 12,960 adults. In addition, the project will reach an estimated 3.5 million people in the intervention areas through different awareness raising activities using media and other mass and community campaigns.