What choices have you made today? Maybe, how to spend your time? What to eat? Which style of coffee to drink; cappuccino, flat white, espresso? We make a myriad of choices every day and we take the freedom for granted, even if sometimes we have to make difficult choices.

But how does it feel to have no choice at all?

Imagine for a moment what it must be like to face a situation where due to drought or famine you feel you have no choice but to move geographically or ask a family member to do so. Imagine if that family member is a young person, a child possibly as young as eight years of age.

This was the scenario that the community in Sefi Beret faced in 2016 after the famine.

This practise of migrating to either a large city or foreign country has become common place in Ethiopia, particularly among poor communities.

During periods of famine or drought the need to take action understandably increases and this was the case in the Sefi Beret area.

The belief that you can better yourself has attracted people to relocate to improve their own lives or that of their families.’

However, a need to act does not always come without risk and can leave families vulnerable to exploitation. We have evidence that during this period ‘brokers’ were arranging migrations. Indeed, I spoke with a mother who explained that her three daughters had left Sefi Beret to work as domestics in Saudi Arabia and she had only heard from one of them.

While visiting Ethiopia for the 50th anniversary of the Sefi Beret church, I met with Lynn Kay, the Ethiopia Country Director of Retrak, which is part of the Hope for Justice family, who have a proven record in targeting trafficking and modern-day slavery to ask her advice.

Retrak have seen the benefits of implementing poverty reduction programmes, working closely with families, so that at times of increased pressure they have the resources to resist migrating. Women and especially mothers are encouraged to save and set up small businesses through self-help groups and also given awareness training.

We will keep you informed.

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