Guaranteeing child protection on their journey of displacement
Imagine1day paves the way to a new future through reunification and education
“It is like a dream, I still don’t believe I got back to my family,” says Genet reunited with her family after a year of separation.
Genet, now 10 years old, was displaced from the Gedio zone following Gedio and Guji tribe conflict at the age of 9 – much too young to have to worry about her own safety and security. Experiencing displacement at any age is difficult, especially when it means journeying it alone.
“Neither my siblings nor my parents were with me. We ran away in different directions. I was crying the whole day while running and hiding, I was all alone. I was expecting to meet my family at some point, but it didn’t happen. I was so scared as the day ended and it began to get dark,” says Genet.
It was at this moment that she met her caregiver, Abaynesh, and soon after, imagine1day. Genet started living with Abaynesh’s family. She was happy that there were kids to have fun with, reminding her of her own siblings. But she was never treated like part of the family – she was expected to work while they played or ate without her.
In stepped the imagine1day team. After discussions with the Child Right Convention (CRC) and her caregiver, imagine1day found Genet alternative care through a placement with a potential foster family.
“I was so worried to move from my first caregiver home to the second one as I was scared to meet new people. After refusing for so long, my friend and neighbour, Birtikuan, convinced me that it would be best to move. And things were not as I feared. I was treated equally with everyone else. I became very attached to 13-year-old Yetu. We were inseparable – we played, ate and slept together,” she says, welling up with tears of love and gratefulness.
After several Psychological Social Support (PSS) discussions with her new caregivers, Genet started her education. She shared her experience with imagine1day social worker Yeshewareg, and was better able to cope with her situation. But all of these new conveniences could not heal the pain of losing her family.
Yeshewareg commented, “She had the tendency to distrust everything and she held back from sharing her story at first. After further PSS, we saw much improvement and she finally agreed to start school. She was very happy about living with her second caregivers, but she continued to miss her family.”
Imagine1day continued to search for her family and discovered that her mother was still alive. And after considerable follow up and family tracing, her elder sister was found and they were joyfully reunited. This incredible day cast a ray of hope on Genet’s quest to be reunited with her family.
“The day I reunified with my daughter was the happiest day ever. I was feeling guilty and had been crying for over a year. My whole life was turned upside down literally in the blink of an eye. As time went by, I was giving up on her and started to convince myself that she had died somewhere. But thanks to imagine1day, I have my child back,” says Genet’s crying mother, Mulu, after reuniting with her daughter.
To this day, Imagine1day continues to provide Genet with the support she needs through non-food items (NFI) and PSS, helping her cope with her separation worries, long after being reunited with her blood mother.