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The following is the story of a girl from Ethiopia who fled with her family. Her family all emigrated and left her here as a refugee in Kenya, where she has faced many hardships. It was transcribed by Heshima Kenya for the My Story program.

My father gave me a necklace with a butterfly. He told me that one day, like the butterfly, I would ‘fly away’ from troubles. When I was 10 years old, my father got out of jail in Ethiopia and we escaped as refugees to Nairobi. He was a political prisoner. We were eight brothers and sisters and my father.

One day, I was walking in Nairobi in the center of town and someone came up from behind me and ripped the butterfly necklace off my neck.

These 14 years in Nairobi have been very hard. Very hard. My father and my brothers and sisters all left and went to places like the U.S. and South Africa. When I was 14, I was kidnapped by a neighbor and his family and he beat me so badly that, you can see here, he broke all of these teeth. My father sent me money, but the neighbor took all of it. My father gave me gold jewelry that was from my mother, who died when I was one year old. The neighbor took that too. I had so little money that I would buy one biscuit, mix it with water and that is what I would feed my older son. That neighbor is my younger son’s father. Now most of the time we stay here at the Safe House. We are afraid go outside. We are afraid of B's [my son’s] father.

Tomorrow I leave with my sons for the United States. You know, I do not think I know how to be free. My father is in Colorado but I think that when he was in prison they must have beaten him in the head and now he is not “right. " He does not want to see me. I have three brothers in the U.S. but I do not know where they are. There is so much going on in my head because of what has happened to me that I cannot sit still and concentrate and study. But I love to work, to keep busy doing things with my hands. It makes what is going on in my head more quiet. We make scarves here and sell them.One day, I will own my own business. No one will tell me what to do. I am 24. My life is ruined. But I would do anything for my two sons. They are my butterflies.


sibusisiweyona's picture

you are a butterfly too

i once saw a butterfly with beautiful big blue wings that seemed to glow in the light, i do not know what it is called but i have never seen one like that again. Reading your story i think you are like that butterfly, something inside you died and it got lost and you feel chained and spent. tell you what i have never seen that butterfly again but it does not mean that it does not exist, it is there somewhere and it is like you, you strength, your courage, your freedom and your peace of mind and joy are there they are just deep down inside you. you cannot see them but they are there and you just have to let them come out. forget about what happened and focus on what is ahead. you have hands and you have a mind and you like to work. You are 24 years old and have a future ahead of you, i hope you can see what i see you are someone, you are blessed and should harness that blessing and YOUR LIFE IS NOT RUINED never say that, never believe it. it is not true and never will be. you are strong and you are not alone you have a lot of people who are inspired by your story like me. YOU ARE A HERO

stay blessed


LilyBrook's picture

What a beautiful and brave

What a beautiful and brave woman you are. Thank you for sharing your voice. Continue to stand up for yourself and pursue your dreams. You have a great power inside you, and we are here to support you.

pheebsabroad's picture

Good Luck!

Good luck with your new life in the United States, it is heartening to hear a parent speak with such love and devotion for their children. I am sure that your "butterflies" will appreciate all of your hard work...and don't give up your life is not ruined, it is never too late to start over.


Myrthe's picture

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your story. You are strong, brave and beautiful; don't let anybody tell you anything else! I wish you good luck in this new chapter of your life that's about to begin.

ccontreras's picture

Very powerful!

Thannk you for sharing your story! It was a very powerful story and it really touched my heart. You remind me so much of my favorite quote, "I embrace emerging experience, I participate in research and discovery. I am a butterfly. Not a butterfly collector." You definitely are a butterfly! You are standing up for your beliefs, for your sons and your life. I truly admire your courage! Best of luck!

"I embrace emerging experience. I am a butterfly. Not a butterfly collector." - Stafford

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