A young boy who fled to the streets to escape child abuse has been rescued.
Abdlaziz*, the youngest in his large family, was just a baby when his mother died, and he has never been told about the cause or circumstances.
His early childhood was spent in the care of his father – an alcoholic, who frequently physically abused him and his siblings. This abuse forced him to run away to live with his elder brothers, who had both married and established their own lives in the Ethiopian Southern Nations.
Abdlaziz would move between their houses so that he had somewhere to sleep but this meant his upbringing was unstable.
“His basic needs often went unmet,” according to Hope for Justice’s team in Ethiopia, “He wasn’t very well protected, he didn’t receive an education and he wasn’t given the love he deserved.”
Abdlaziz had hoped to escape the abuse he had faced at the hands of his father but his brothers also began treating him harshly; he was punished with hits, slaps, pinches, insults and threats.
This abuse eventually “pushed” Abdlaziz onto the streets, where he spent five days eating scraps of food and trying to earn a few Ethiopian birr by carrying luggage for visitors to the city.
He was found by Hope for Justice’s outreach team, who regularly survey the streets for vulnerable children, as part of the charity’s work to prevent exploitation.
“When Abdlaziz came to our Lighthouse, he was physically and psychologically traumatised,” the team said, “He quickly realised that this was a place where he had friends and staff who would care for him.”
At the Lighthouse – a short-term aftercare facility – Abdlaziz was given food, safe shelter, protection, catch-up education, clothing, counselling and access to healthcare services. He also went on educational visits and played sports including hand ball, basketball and tennis.
Hope for Justice’s aim is always to reintegrate children back with their family, where possible, or into family-based care.
Abdlaziz told the team in Ethiopia that he did not want to return to his father’s or brothers’ homes because he did not feel safe and was concerned about his future.
Arrangements were therefore made for him to live with his older sister and her family. A pre-visit was carried out before Abdlaziz was successfully reintegrated. Meetings have also been held with his elder brothers and father to find solutions to pre-existing problems.
Abdlaziz is now attending school, and is living in freedom.
*Name and image changed to protect identity of victim