Ethiopia: Counselling saves lives
24 October 2008

Children at the JRS-run day care centre in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Peter Balleis SJ/JRS)
Her father was killed by gunmen and she does not know exactly where her mother is.

Addis Ababa, 24 October 2008 – Elizabeth*, a 24-year-old Congolese refugee, arrived in Ethiopia in 2004 after crossing the bushes and forests of Uganda and Kenya. She was forced to leave her homeland because of the civil war. Her father was killed by gunmen and she does not know exactly where her mother is. 

Elizabeth has two sons. She doesn’t know the father of her first born because she conceived him after she was raped by soldiers during the civil war. It was after this experience that she decided to leave her homeland.

Now she is a single mother and has immense difficulties in managing life in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. But she has started learning English and her elder son, a child with special needs, attends a JRS-run day care centre.

A month ago she gave birth to her second son. During her pregnancy, the father abandoned her, leaving her all alone with a young child who suffered mental illness and epilepsy. She had turned to JRS for help explaining the challenges she was facing along with her pregnancy. “At that moment, I thought of aborting my baby”, she says, “but thanks to the maternity advice and counseling given by JRS, I managed to change my mind and give birth.”  

As soon as Elizabeth gave birth, the JRS team visited her to congratulate and to check on her health situation. Still in her maternity bed, she expressed her gratitude about the material, financial, spiritual and psychological support she had received through JRS.  But above all, she said, “I thank God for helping me understand the value of human life.”

*not her real name