‘I thought he was dead’ – Mother reunited with 13-year-old son

A young scholar is now able to live out his potential after being rescued from the streets and reunited with his family.

Kaleb* was found by Hope for Justice’s outreach team, who search the streets of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, to rescue children who are vulnerable to trafficking, and bring them to safety, with the aim of reintegrating them with their families.

A kind-hearted passerby had taken 13-year-old Kaleb in for a night after finding him “terrified and anxious” at a bus terminal in Addis Ababa.

He was brought to Canaan Lighthouse, one of Hope for Justice’s residential aftercare centres for children at risk of exploitation, in May this year.

Kaleb, one of five siblings, said: “I made the mistake of beating my friend during a quarrel. I had to quit school. My behaviour angered my mother and she threatened me, warning me she did not want to see me in my home again. I was afraid so I ran away.”

The child, who was in higher primary school at the time, hitched a lift with a stranger and made the 170-mile journey to the city.

One of Hope for Justice’s outreach workers said: “Our team was baffled when Kaleb arrived at the Lighthouse. He still looked well groomed. He was very intelligent. He was different from the other children we come across on the streets. But he was obviously terrified. He told us he felt guilty about his behaviour and wanted to go back home to his family.”

Kaleb received one-to-one counselling and attended school classes while our team worked to trace his family members with the view of reintegrating him.

The outreach worker continued: “After just two weeks at the Lighthouse, Kaleb was able to return to his family. When they saw him, they began crying and praising God that he was safe.”

Kaleb’s mother said: “I thought my boy was dead. I have not been able to sleep, I have been so worried about him. We were doing everything we could to find him. Even now, Kaleb’s older brother is in Addis Ababa trying to find him. Thank you so much Hope for Justice for bringing him home.”

At the time of reintegration, the anti-slavery organisation and local officials gave the family parenting skills advice and training. They also re-enrolled Kaleb at his school and, during follow-up assessments, learned that Kaleb is the second highest achieving student in his class.

*Name and image changed to protect identity of victim