As a ten-year-old girl, I loved the beach, my cats, and collecting rocks. My favorite color was purple, and I was certain that I’d marry John Michael Montgomery. My biggest concerns were cleaning my room and fighting with my sister. Though the details vary, my experiences as a 10-year-old girl are similar to those of many other women I know.

Masresha’s story is different.

She was 10 years old when militants raided her Ethiopian village, setting fire to homes, killing people, and capturing others. Though her life was spared, her dignity, innocence, and childhood were not. Masresha was forced to marry her captor, a man who had torn her village and her life apart. Her life could never be the same.

A family member was able to locate and rescue Masresha, but she would never again be that 10-year-old. She had changed. She saw the world differently. Determined to move on with her life, however, Masresha remarried. Her husband was a hard-working carpenter, and they had a beautiful home together. She eventually gave birth to a daughter, Meron, which means “gift of God.” It seemed like the pieces were falling into place when it all fell apart again.

Masresha was unaware of her husband’s past. Prior to their marriage, he had killed a man in his hometown in Somalia. Seeking revenge, the murdered man’s friends came to Masresha’s village one day and killed her husband. Masresha quickly went from having a home and a happy life to being devastatingly poor and homeless. Most women in her situation would be forced to abandon their children in orphanages.

This wasn’t the case for Masresha, though.

Masresha and Meron were located through a church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Meron is now part of the Home Based Care program. Through the Home Based Care program, the local church has come alongside Masresha to ensure that Meron receives adequate food, housing, education, and medical care. By partnering with Masresha, the church is able to ensure that Meron remains in a loving family environment, while receiving all the important things she needs to grow spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.  

A Journey Trip team recently visited Masresha in her home, where she welcomed them with freshly-baked bread and piping hot coffee. At the end of the visit, Masresha didn’t ask for anything for herself. Instead, she simply requested that the team pray for her daughter. Meron is now eight years old, and she is filled with all the spunk and big dreams of any other 8-year-old. She dreams specifically of opening her own hair salon one day.

Masresha loves people. Her home often smells like baking bread and freshly-roasted coffee. She would prefer walking the miles it takes under the Ethiopian sun to visit her friends over sitting at home alone. When asked if she most enjoyed days spent visiting friends or days spent visiting Meron, her eyes lit up. “Nothing compares to spending time at home with Meron,” she said with a smile.

Throughout her life’s journey, the odds have seemingly not been in Masresha’s favor, but she has been a survivor. She has fallen many times, yet she has repeatedly gotten back on her feet. While her life is not perfect, and Masresha and Meron live quite humbly, they have remained together. Their bond is strong. The Home Based Care program has given Masresha the opportunity to hold tightly to her gift from God, Meron.