While her relatives cared for her, she missed her parent’s love growing up. At 16 she was forced into an arranged marriage with an elderly man. Forced to abandon her independence and all her hopes and dreams for the future.
Unprepared for marriage, Etagu tried to adopt to the new reality of her life. But her situation deteriorated further. Her husband was an alcoholic and started physically abusing her.
Escaping an abusive marriage
To escape this nightmare Etagu was planning to run away. When she fell pregnant she was forced to stay, trapped in an abusive and loveless marriage. After giving birth, Etagu reluctantly stayed for a few months longer before fleeing to Hawassa with her baby boy, Yaread.
Raised in a small rural village, city life was a daunting prospect for Elagu but offered an escape. Unfortunately Etagu and Yaread failed to find safe haven in Hawassa. She was unable to find employment or shelter and ended up living on the street with her new born baby.
“There were days in which I could not eat anything. I was glad if I had something for Yaread. There were so many disappointments in the street life, but all I cared about was him, so I survived all the obstacles” Etagu said.
Etagu was beginning to lose all hope. Then one day, she heard about GOAL’s ChildSPACE programme in Hawassa. She was told that people living on the street like her would get unique support from the programme. Etagu jumped at the opportunity.
“The support that I got from the programme was unlike anything that I knew before. They provided me with everything they could such as access to personal hygiene, and most of all I liked the life skill and short business training.” Etagu says.
“In less than a couple of months, they transformed me from a helpless sad street mom to an ambitious and empowered person who is ready to work and change her life”. Etagu added.
Hopes for the future
After finishing her training Etagu received support and materials to start her own snack and hot drinks business. GOAL’s ChildSPACE programme also provided her with regular business consultations and support to ensure her business was on the right track.
Etagu is finally enjoying the independence that was robbed from her at 16. Her business is respected, well known in the area, and helping Etagu to provide for Yaread, who is now two years old.
Etagu now hopes that her son can enjoy an education and the opportunities that were unavailable to her.