Years of war, famine, poverty, and gender inequality have led to difficult conditions in Ethiopia, conditions that have led to them having one of the world’s highest rates of human trafficking. Adults and children are trafficked both throughout the country and across borders, often to become one of the 600,000 Ethiopians living in modern slavery. Tariku was one child affected by trafficking who narrowly escaped – and thanks to Family member FSCE, he’s now started his own micro-business.

Tariku was a 15 year old child when he was exposed to the dangers of human trafficking. He grew up in poverty in a small town in the south of the country, and his family did not have the economic means to pay for his education or to meet his basic needs. At this point – unsure of his future – he was approached by a child trafficker who convinced him that he would have a better life ahead of him if he went with him to find work.

This is an all too common situation in Ethiopia. Children in the country can be tempted to undertake these dangerous journeys by child traffickers, who know just what to say. Like Tariku, children may be fleeing economic issues such as poverty or unemployment; or it may be other causes such as escaping child abuse or family breakdown. 

Trafficked children not only miss out on basic rights such as healthcare and education, they are at heightened risk of being robbed or sexually assaulted along their journey by traffickers, border officers or others. 

A journey to the capital

The person who trafficked Tariku took him to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, where he had been promised work. Although we can’t know what the trafficker had in store for him, many children who are trafficked are not taken to the better life they are promised. 

Luckily for Tariku, the trafficking was stopped in its tracks. Upon arrival at the bus station, he was identified as a potentially trafficked child by a member of a community counter-trafficking network set up by our Ethiopian member organisation FSCE. The committees are made up by people who work in and around the bus terminal areas, who have the potential to come in contact with children who are being trafficked. They include bus drivers, bus owners, job recruitment agencies, hotel receptionists and others. The committees are given the tools they need to spot children who may be being trafficked, to explore more deeply where they have suspicions, and to intervene in order to help them reach safety.

A new beginning

For Tariku, his family situation meant that he did not want to go back home; but staying alone in Addis Ababa without support would put him in a vulnerable situation. To help him get back on his feet, FSCE provided him with business skills training and start-up capital for a micro-business. Now looking towards the future, Tariku has regular work and has even saved money in his savings account – without being exploited by traffickers for their own profits. 

Tariku says:

“This is a new day and a new beginning. Thank you FSCE and the Anti Child Trafficking Committee for helping me live my dream.” 

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Names and details have been changed in this story and the photographs are for illustration purposes only, in order to protect the identity of the children involved.