Our foster children
TARGET has four girl foster children: Amina I and II plus Hanawi and Eri.
Eri was fostered by us in 2009. Like the two Aminas and Hanawi she, too, is an Afar girl from the Danakil desert in Ethiopia. Eri’s fate is documented in the TV film “Caravan of Hope” (to be broadcast on ProSieben, Galileo Special, 20 December 2009, 7pm). Eri is one of the 19 Afar girls who, on 15 April 2009 carried the fatwa banner into the conference hall in Addis Ababa where 100 eminent Islamic religious leaders were gathered at TARGET’s invitation.
Eri, who is ten or eleven years old, impressed us with her language skills. Besides speaking her mother tongue, Afaraf, she also speaks Amharish and Tigrinya. She was fully aware of the motive for the conference. “It’s about our mutilation. If I have a daughter, I will not let it happen to her. Today it is absolutely forbidden” she chattered away. During the conference Eri talked about her mutilation. There was absolute silence. Several of those listening fought back their tears. Afterwards one thing was certain: we must offer these girls in Addis Ababa some prospects for their future. Her mother – who lives in a humble hut made of branches, her only possession a handleless pot – agreed, as did her clan.
Eri now lives in the capital with an Afar foster family as is the case for our other TARGET foster children. She has settled down well. “I would like to learn lots and lots so that I can become a teacher someday”, she confided in us.
Amina I and Amina II (both 14 years old) accompanied the 19 Afar girls in the hall.
We first met Amina I in 2001. We noticed her because she kept on worrying a scarf in her lap and was completely silent. We were told that ten weeks previously she had been genitally mutilated. The memory of her distraught eyes and her unhappy fate stayed with us. We persuaded her parents that we could help their daughter get a good education. Since 2006 Amina I, together with her friend Amina II, live in Addis Ababa and they are both among the top pupils in their class.
Amina I walked into the conference hall bearing the GOLDEN BOOK up high like a queen. She lay it down on the podium table thereby introducing into the heart of the meeting the well documented ways in which religion has sheltered itself from the brutal custom. As she stood there beaming at us, we thought back to 2001. Now her eyes shone in triumph and we knew, there and then, that our actions had paid off.
We met Hanawi (14) in 2008. She likes to call herself the “future women’s representative”. Hanawi suffered genital mutilation twice because her half blind circumciser thought that she had not cut off “enough”. Hanawi desperately put up a fight before the second appointment. In vain. When she later found out that the custom is forbidden she reported the women who had caused her so much suffering. This most unusual fate quickly spread among the Afar people; and that is how we learned about it. Since Hanawi was at the time actively supported by the women’s representative in her village, she, too, would like to become a women’s representative.