Aster’s story

Aster* was 15 years old when she left her home to travel to Addis Ababa. As Aster’s father had died when she was very young her mother was unable to afford to send her to school. Aster had stayed at home and helped her mother but a friend had advised her that she could earn money in Addis, so she left without telling anyone.

On Aster’s bus journey, she met a woman who offered to help her find a job by introducing her to a broker. Once she started working Aster had many disagreements with the employers. The house chores were a heavy load and she was physically and emotionally abused. Life was not as she expected.

After a while Aster’s employers threw her out of their home. With no place to go and facing a language barrier she had no choice but to wander around and ask people to hire her as a house maid. A policeman found her and she was eventually referred to Retrak where she joined the programme. At first Aster was reluctant to return home as she felt she needed to work as a domestic worker so that she could send money to her family. But through the counselling and life skills training, Aster became convinced that being a domestic worker was not her only option.

After her reintegration, Aster is home safe with her family. Retrak also provided her with a small grant so that she could start a business. She said that “had it been that I was not with Retrak, who knows where I would have ended up. I am grateful.”

* Name has been changed

Freelance travel photographer