Editors’ note: Journalist Hikma A. Abdulmejid reports on two organizations in Ethiopia that give children who have been abused and abandoned an opportunity for a brighter future in “Broken, Not Crushed” in the December issue of ONE. In her second audio reflection on this assignment, Hikma observes how these children come together and rely on each other as family. A full transcript follows.
After two and a half hours of a car trip from Addis Ababa to Meki, we arrived at Kidane Meheret Catholic Cathedral. The church is one beautifully built modern structure that is adorned with sacred art. Meki is a small town where you don’t really observe many buildings or automobiles. The people of the town use horse-drawn carriages and three-wheeled auto rickshaws for transportation.
We parked our car in the cathedral’s compound, collected our equipment and asked where we could find Sister Anney. She is the one who is in charge of the Meki Girls Hostel. After we introduced ourselves to Sister Anney, she told us the girls hostel is in a different location. We got into our car and drove a five-minute distance on a cobblestone road and reached our destination.
The gateway to the girls hostel had grown long grasses. It was an indicator that cars don’t go in or out as frequently. The girls opened the gate and looked out. They were curious to see who had come to visit them. The compound of the girls hostel was tidy and well-maintained. We arrived at a time when the girls were back from school and were studying.
We introduced ourselves. The girls were sociable. I was asking them what they wanted to be when they finished school. Haset said she wanted to be a doctor and another girl, Megertu, replied, “Well, God knows what the future holds.” Demitu said she wanted to be a journalist. I had a nice conversation with them. The girls are amused by every conversation and have a fun outlook.
A funny incident happened during our visit. There is a dog named Rocky at the girls hostel. Rocky was tied to a branch of a tree. When the girls went out to play, Rocky was untied to join them. He was happy and running around. Haset, who wanted to play with him but was also afraid, started running as Rocky approached her.
Rocky, thinking she is running to play with him, rushed behind her. Everyone laughed as Haset panicked and shouted while running. Some girls ran after Rocky to stop it and others ran toward Haset to calm her. I saw the girls hugging Haset and telling her she was okay. I was able to see the girls’ strong bond and how they treated each other as sisters.
Hikma A. Abdulmejid is a freelance journalist and lecturer in journalism and communications at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. She has been published in Addis Fortune and writes for a number of U.N. agencies.