The Girls of Ethiopia – Story in Photos
The girls of Ethiopia. They do not travel. Or rather, do not travel in the sense that we attach to the word. And yet, each of them – young, old, pregnant or loaded with luggage, walks daily countless kilometers to reach a source of water, the market or the house of relatives or friends. Their lives are hard, tough, endless struggle with poverty and disease. Ethiopia is one of the countries with the highest percentage of people suffering from AIDS in the world and therefore many children are left orphaned by young age and also are born with the virus in their blood. The Ethiopian girls have different fates and different beauty. But one thing is certain – you cannot stay indifferent to their simple charm and soft dignity.
These photos were taken more than ten years ago during the one year that I spent in northern Ethiopia – in Tigray province. Girls were interested to be photographed and this created a tacit understanding between us, and our meetings, with few exceptions, always ended with a smile. Today, I dare to say that women are the best thing in this poor country (without the rich vegetation and animal diversity typical for Central Africa) that also lost its outlet to the Red Sea with the separation of Eritrea from its territory during the bloody civil War in 1998. So there’s no exotic landscapes and plenty of beautiful African animals, but so does the power and beauty of women is gentle and noticeable. I think many men would agree with me.
The majority of children is born and lives in huts and houses among nowhere. Very often the families don’t have water, and the few that they manage to bring from a distant well is mainly used for drinking and cooking.
The girls, if they are lucky enough to go to school, walk dozens of kilometers during the day to participate in classes. Everywhere in the country you can find children to pop out from nowhere, in the wilderness, where you think life cannot exist.
Many girls begin working in early childhood. Most are happy and satisfied if they have the chance to work for foreigners because they not only pay them better but treat them more respectfully.
Children are caring for children. Since families are numerous and live in very hostile nature where nothing grows, mothers transfer the care for toddlers and domestic animals on adolescents. So everyone takes part in helping the family, but girls and women bear the greatest responsibility.
Some children are aggressive from a young age. Without being able to know what caused it I always was amazed by their attitude towards foreigners – you inevitably become the subject of begging, if not reciprocated, they become aggressive.
Some are fortunate enough to come from wealthier families. But it did not save them the hard work.
Ethiopian mothers love their children. Although households are numerous and the European understanding of education did not found ground here, sometimes you see the care and tenderness that only a mother can have for her child.
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