Do you know a 9-year-old girl? Can you imagine arranging for her to marry a man, let alone one three times her age?
This was the sad reality for Selam, the mother of Hiwot Semeneh. Selam fled to Addis Ababa at the age of 9 after discovering that a marriage had been arranged for her. In a country where 41% of girls are married by the age of 18, her story is all too common. Arranged marriages, child marriage, and marriage by abduction are still common practices in developing parts of the world, including Ethiopia.
Once in Addis Ababa, Selam worked as a maid to earn a living and felt safe until she was raped by someone in the house, resulting in the birth of Hiwot. After this, she moved to Debre Zeyit where she worked as a waitress, struggling to support herself and her young child.
When she was older, Selam married and had a second daughter and a son. Her husband has since abandoned the family, and she has been forced to raise her three children on her own. She washes clothes for an income but only has two customers who call her once or twice per month.
Like so many others in Ethiopia, Selam lacks the education needed to move on to higher paying employment. Every day she wonders how she will make it through the month. Things have gotten so bad that she had to burn the family’s only chair in order to have firewood to prepare food for her children.
Selam’s first-born, Hiwot, is a 4th grade student at BCI Academy. She is quiet and well behaved at school and loves jumping rope and playing hide-and-seek with her friends. In spite of the family circumstances, Hiwot has not lost hope. She dreams of becoming a pilot and is interested in environmental science and English.
Selam is HIV positive, which means her health will continue to decline. By the grace of God, none of the children are HIV positive, but they will have to carry on and support themselves when their mother is no longer able to. As the eldest child in the family, Hiwot has an additional burden. She must take on responsibilities at home, such as food preparation and helping with her siblings.
The single rented room that the family shares costs $13 USD per month. All four family members sleep in the same bed, and they share a toilet with their neighbors. The only clothes Hiwot owns are the ones she is shown wearing.
Hiwot is currently partially sponsored. Because of her sponsorship, she is able to attend BCI Academy. She also has access to the breakfast and lunch program, and she receives monthly grain support. With only $2 USD available per month for all food, clothing, household items, and living expenses, there just aren’t enough funds available for Selam to provide much for her children beyond a roof over their heads.
Imagine for a moment the bravery of a 9-year-old child to escape the clutches of an arranged marriage, and the courage of this mother in the face of raising a family in extreme poverty. She is alone and her health is failing. Without our help, Selam has no hope for a better future for her family.
We would like to replace the family’s chair and provide other furniture to improve their living conditions. We would also like to provide a clean outfit and new shoes for each family member and send 6 months of grain support for her siblings. Hiwot needs an additional $60 per month to be fully sponsored.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the needs of so many families in Ethiopia, but with support from our donor family, we can rewrite the story for families like this one.
Hiwot’s Urgent Needs:
$120 Outfit and shoes for 4 family members
$180 6-months of additional grain support
$60/mo. Complete Hiwot’s monthly sponsorship
Please prayerfully consider what you can add to Hiwot’s story. If you are able to meet one or more of these needs, please make your donation online or by mail today!