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Kasech was living a nightmare—kidnapped, trafficked, and only 14 years old

Child trafficking is a horrific crime. Family is the answer.

June 26, 2023 | Daneal Lightner, content writer

Kasech was living a nightmare—kidnapped, trafficked, and only 14 years old Banner Image

Beaten, lying alone on a cold floor, mouth covered to muffle her cries, hands and feet tied. Distant thoughts of home kept her alive as she hovered between life and death.

Kasech was 14 years old. She’d been kidnapped and trafficked.

Instead of going to school, learning, growing, and playing, her life was scrubbing floors, doing laundry, making dishes shine, and preparing meals. When she made a mistake or her captor was bored, she suffered unimaginable cruelty.

It’s gut-wrenching to imagine a child in this kind of pain. But it’s a brutal reality. Right now, an estimated 160 million children around the world are being used for child labor. Every year, that number grows by an estimated 700,000 children.

One trip to the market robbed Kasech of her childhood

Like so many teens, Kasech dreamed of a job, income, and independence. One day, she left her home in her small Ethiopian village and headed to the market, determined to find work.

She didn’t come home. Even after a long, desperate search, her family couldn’t find her.

A vendor she met at the market offered her a job and promised a better life. Instead, he took her away from home to a city almost 200 miles away, locked her in his house, forced her to work without pay, and beat her.

Kasech was living a nightmare—until the day she ran.

One hot day, as she worked through exhaustion and pain, Kasech broke a glass. She feared this time her mistake might cost her life. She had to escape.

When police found her, dazed, confused, and wandering aimlessly, she was covered in bruises and cuts and her wrist was fractured.

She was brought to Bethany’s office in Addis Ababa—physically, emotionally, and mentally broken. But here, she found healing.

When safe and possible, reunification is priority

When children are rescued from trafficking, we ensure they’re given safety, refuge, and rehabilitation services so they can begin to heal.

Kasech was given much needed physical and mental health care. She started to attend school again and began learning how to be a child again. But like most children would, she longed for her family.

Because we know the best place for a child to thrive is within their own family, we prioritize finding and reunifying children with their families. When that’s not possible, foster homes give children the love and safety they need and deserve.

Because Kasech had been taken so far from her remote, rural home, it was difficult to locate her family. But Bethany staff and police worked together to search, and they eventually found her little village of Hajo Seleta. It wasn’t accessible by car, so Kasech was taken home by motorcycle.

When Kasech’s mother saw her daughter and held her again, she fell to the ground, overcome with emotion. Weeping, she thanked God for bringing her daughter home. Knowing what the outcome could have been, the village rejoiced with Kasech and her family for her safe return.

One of the world’s darkest crimes

Child trafficking is one of the world’s darkest crimes, preying on the most vulnerable.

Victims are often sent or taken from home and forced into labor—modern-day slavery. The work they’re coerced into varies from working in mines, factories, or markets, housekeeping, babysitting, cooking, or farming. These children live and work in harsh conditions, with little to no payment, no access to education, and are constantly subject to violence.

We believe family is the answer.

Family is the answer

We know children are safer when families are stronger. And so, our staff works urgently to strengthen families, helping them become less vulnerable to exploitation.

Poverty is a driving force of child trafficking. Many families living in perpetual hunger without adequate shelter, nutrition, or medical care are particularly vulnerable. Parents see no other choice but to send their children to work in what can seem like good employment opportunities.

The reality, however, is brutal. Once a child has been taken for labor, they may never see their family again.

By challenging political, legal, and cultural norms, we help ensure all children can experience the joys of childhood, not the pains of trafficking. We strengthen families against hardships, like extreme poverty, and work within local communities to build trust and awareness, helping create environments that protect children.

We work to rescue and heal children from the atrocities of trafficking, but also to create lasting change that prevents children from being trafficked entirely.

Looking forward

Alongside our partners, like USAID and Freedom Fund, we celebrate the success we’ve seen in anti-trafficking, child labor prevention, and reunification work. In 2022, Bethany rescued 120 Ethiopian children from forced labor and trafficking. To date, all have been successfully reunified with their families.

Though the impact for children and families has been significant, there’s still much to do. And the work that must be done is urgent.

Bethany’s ongoing commitments:

We will continue advocating for family strengthening and prevention to ensure atrocities like trafficking stop once and for all.

We remain committed to helping families access vocational training to help them move out of poverty and achieve financial stability. In this process, we can help ensure that every child, youth, and adult within the family unit has access to basic needs and education—strengthening them and protecting them from exploitation.

To ensure the progress we’ve made lasts, we will continue training community leaders and partners to be aware of, identify, and report instances of child trafficking and forced labor. And we will continue working with local governments, advocating for stricter sanctions and laws against using exploitative child labor.

Together, we will continue responding to and preventing trafficking and other forms of exploitation so children, like Kasech, can experience safety, love, and connection within strong families. Because every child deserves that.

In the darkness and pain that persists around the world, Bethany’s mission to protect children, empower youth, and strengthen families is more crucial than ever before. Acting as the hands and feet of Jesus, together, we can continue shining his light in the darkest and hardest to reach places—not simply reacting to atrocities but preventing them.

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