Zenia was born in Addis Ababa in 1996. Her father died when she was a young child and she lived with her mother until she was 7. Not long after Zenia turned seven her mum died from AIDS. Zenia’s uncle had to take her in and look after her. Her uncle’s wife was not happy about having to look after another child. She began to abuse Zenia, beating her and calling her names. Her uncle tried to help her but the abuse didn’t stop. In the end he told her that she should leave as she was never going to be welcome in his wife’s home. Zenia left her home with nowhere to go. She spent the night on the streets of Addis Ababa. She was attacked and raped on her first night away from home.
Zenia was scared and needed to find someone to protect her from the violence of the streets. She decided to accept the offer of another older street boy to become her “husband” . He promised to protect her from strangers. Although he did keep her safe from others he was also physically and sexually abusive towards her. After a year she decided to run away again, she was just 13 years old.
Two years later Zenia was addicted to alcohol and very damaged from life on the streets. One night she met a street outreach worker from Retrak. He spoke to her and invited her to the Retrak drop in centre. The next day she went along to the Retrak centre where she was able to see a nurse and a social worker. They spoke to her about the help that she could receive from Retrak and how they could help her move away from street life. Zenia now comes to the Retrak centre every day. She is having counselling and the social workers are trying to help build up her self esteem. Zenia has found it hard to love herself again after years of rejection and abuse.
Zenia has recently started a tailoring course and is very happy learning a new skill. Thanks to the money that you donate Retrak has been able to support Zenia on this two year course. She now has an alternative to life on the streets and is beginning to realise her potential and discover her worth.
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US Country Director