This Christmas, give hope to girls like Ayana
Posted by naomi on Monday 4th December 2017
"He killed her using pieces of glass, right there in front of me.”
Ayana* was raped by her father. Later, she witnessed him brutally murder her mother. She was only 12 years old.
This story is hard to write. And I must warn you, it may be hard to read. But when I think about how I will be spending Christmas this year — how my children will unwrap their presents under our tree, happy and excited, with no doubt in their mind that they are safe and loved — I can’t help but think about the children who have never known such a feeling.
The children who have been sexually abused by a parent or guardian. The children who have witnessed horrors beyond their comprehension. The children who are orphaned, separated from their siblings and left alone in the world.
So, while this story is hard to write, I must write it. For them.
And I am hoping that once I tell you this story, you will join me in helping to give them hope this Christmas.
Ayana is a bright girl. She and her little sister, Fatuma*, both hope to be doctors when they grow up. Despite their four-year age difference, the two sisters are extremely close. But last year, their whole world fell apart.
“I try to forget how it happened,” Ayana says. “We were at home, back from school and my mum was making coffee and my father there too, chewing chat. He sent Fatuma to buy milk and when she returned with it, he stirred something in it and gave it to us to drink. We slept heavily that night.
“But in the middle of the night, I woke up to sounds of beating and shouting. When I went to see [what was happening], my father was beating my mother with rods of metal.
“I was frightened and tried to scream but he threatened me. He killed her using pieces of glass, right there in front of me.”
Can you imagine the fear and pain Ayana’s mother, Gadise*, must have felt? She knew her husband was dangerous. He had attacked her in the past and threatened to kill her after she tried to seek help in reporting him for raping Ayana.
But in Ethiopia, half of all women have experienced physical violence. Two-thirds have been sexually assaulted. And horrifically, one in six girls will be raped.
It’s no wonder Gadise stayed quiet and didn’t report her husband. Deeply entrenched traditional values and unequal power relations between men and women in Ethiopia meant that she felt powerless to protect herself or her daughters.
But that’s why I desperately need your help today. We must end this epidemic that is destroying women and girls’ lives — and killing women like Gadise.
Please will you give $50 today and help us end the senseless and horrific violence used against women and girls in Ethiopia?
After murdering his wife, Ayana’s father tried to run away but he was caught by the police and arrested. Ayana and Fatuma were left orphaned and deeply traumatised. But thanks to the incredible support of people like you , the sisters had somewhere to turn.
Our local partner, the Association for Women’s Sanctuary Development (AWSAD), operate safe houses for women and girls who have experienced sexual or physical violence.
“They gave us a clean place to sleep, meals and counsellors to talk to us,” Ayana says. “They accompanied me to court hearings and took care of our legal case.”
After working extensively with their counsellors to deal with their trauma, the girls started to show a bit of confidence. Soon, they were ready to return to school.
“At first, we were withdrawn and didn’t want to mingle with anyone, but the counsellors and our friendships with the other residents slowly helped us to forget what happened and be positive and hopeful about the future. I have been through a lot but I feel that education is what I need to be able to face future challenges in my life … Fatuma passed Grade 5 with good scores; she stood fourth in her class! I just passed the 8th grade national examination and I’m awaiting the results.”
It is truly remarkable how resilient young people are, isn’t it? Despite experiencing one of the most horrific things a person could live through, Ayana and Fatuma still have hope.
But that’s why I wanted to share their story with you. Because I know you have hope too. Our donors have been such an amazing support in the past and I am so grateful to know that you care about giving girls like Ayana and Fatuma a second chance at a great future. Thank you so much. But when I think about where they would be this Christmas if it weren’t for the generosity of people like you, I can’t help but think of all the other women and girls who also need our help.
Thank you for listening to this story. I’m sure you agree that everyone deserves to have happiness at Christmas. And with your help, I know we can make this a reality.
Merry Christmas to you and your family, and thank you in advance for your kindness.
Ethiopiaid Australia Foundation
*names have been changed to protect identity.