Orphaned twin, 11, ‘home and free’ and no longer in danger on the streets

An orphan who fled to the streets to survive has been reunited with his brother and sister thanks to Hope for Justice’s outreach team.

Desta* and his twin brother were brought up by their elder sister in Duna, a woreda (district) in the Hadiya Zone of southern Ethiopia.

The siblings tried to cultivate the family’s plot of land for farming but struggled without adult oversight and because of the heavy manual labour. They often had to beg on the streets just to meet their most basic needs. Desta’s twin would shine shoes so they could afford schoolbooks, clothes and shoes.

Desta, who is aged 11, ended up living and working on the streets to try to meet his family’s needs. Thankfully, he had been there only 15 days when a member of Hope for Justice’s outreach team found him. Street children are incredibly vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation.

Desta joined one of the global anti-slavery charity’s Ethiopia Lighthouses, where he received aftercare for physical and psychological abuse that he had faced on the streets. One of the charity’s team said: “When Desta joined the Lighthouse, he was so happy to have gained more friends and to be in the company of staff who cared for him.

“Here, he has benefited from a balanced diet, clean and safe shelter, catch-up education, clothes, guidance and counselling, protection, healthcare services, educational visits and playing games such as hand ball, basketball and tennis, all of which have contributed to his improved welfare and wellbeing. We have noticed a huge improvement in his behaviour and attitude towards his future, even in the short time he has been with us.”

In May, Desta asked to be reunited with his sister and to go back to school near home. The Lighthouse social workers managed to trace his family and organised a pre-visit before his reintegration.

“We are delighted that Desta has been successfully reintegrated with his family, and that he is now living in freedom with his sister,” the team member said. “He told us he was very grateful for the help we have given.”

Hope for Justice has provided a small grant to support the family to get their business up and running. Extensive evidence shows that greater economic security and sustainability greatly reduces the risk of family breakdown and the risk of trafficking.

One of Hope for Justice’s staff members said: “These twin boys have an amazing outlook and are very well behaved. They get on with anyone and everyone, and we are very hopeful for their futures.”

*Name and image changed to protect identity of victim