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.