Meseret’s story

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Meseret told Retrak outreach workers that three weeks previously she had been sleeping in the middle of the road on the central reservation when a car had run over her foot.

The driver didn’t stop so she was left there in agony and with a bad injury and no prospect of medical help. The outreach workers encouraged her to visit the Retrak drop-in centre for medical care, but she was very hesitant. This is because Meseret and had been disguising herself as a boy for the past three years to stay safe and didn’t want anyone to know her secret.

She told Retrak that her strategy to protect herself on the street was to shave off her hair, dress as a boy, wear a big old overcoat to cover her body, and hang around younger kids who wouldn’t ask so many questions or realise her gender!

Meseret came to the clinic at the Retrak drop-in centre and after a course of antibiotics and daily dressings the wound healed. Meseret started to attend the education catch-up classes with the other street children. One quiet afternoon when most of the other children were not around, she began talking with one of the social workers and for the first time confessed that she had a mother and father, although they were separated. She said she really wanted to return home to her mum and that she was sick of street life and the pretence of living as a boy.

The social workers are now working intensively with Meseret to help her achieve her dream of returning home and are slowly helping restore her self-confidence which has been eaten away by years of suffering and living on the street.

Meseret has now graduated from vocational training to be a hairdresser and is about to embark on working for the first time!

Children’s names and pictures have been changed, but they are all happy for us to share their story with you.