“I have a plan to bring my daughter back.” This courageous statement has more hope in it than Mirdase Girto ever knew as she was raised in a country with one of the highest rates of internal trafficking in the world. Ethiopia sees up to 20,000 children sold for as little as $1.20 to work as domestic workers or prostitutes each year. Sold into slavery…in the 21st Century.

Mirdase’s daughter, Birqe, was nine years old when a man came to their village from Addis Ababa and made false promises of sending her to school and supporting the family if she went with him to Addis Ababa. After three days, Birqe disappeared from her village and Mirdase learned that Birqe had been trafficked without her consent.

“I have five children, a son and four daughters. When Birqe was sold we barely survived on the meager family income, but after I became a member of this cooperative, we benefited in many aspects.” Mirdase is a member of Gago Saving and Credit Cooperative established with the financial and technical support of the Anti-TIP Project. “I got access to a small loan from the cooperative and now I stand here with the potatoes which I planted in my backyard using the loan I took. I will repay it within a month and will borrow more again. If I continue to do well and get good harvest, I have a plan to bring my daughter, Birqe back from Addis Ababa. If things are better here, why would I expose her to labor exploitation? I will have my daughter back with the help of my Kebele CPC members.”

Her courageous statement is a powerful testament of finding hope for a better life and reunification with her daughter, whom she plans to educate with the rest of her children. These things were next to impossible before her participation in economic empowerment activities.

Her hope is strengthened as PCI is partnering with the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice, police, and other NGO’s in scaling up efforts to address the issue of human trafficking in Ethiopia. It is a priority to battle the downward spiral into a life of sexual and physical abuse and exploitation when poor, rural children in Ethiopia become victims of child traffickers, who promise them a better future and then sell them into a life of even greater suffering.