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Project information

Combating child domestic slavery across Ethiopia

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 10,000 girls are trapped in domestic slavery, where they face horrifying living and working conditions, physical and sexual abuse. Retrak are working to end domestic slavery in Addis Ababa by rescuing victims, educating vulnerable communities & lobbying key stake holders.

January 2019 - December 2019

Charity information: Retrak - Inspiring Street Children

Retrak - Inspiring Street Children logo
  • Need


    Tragically, over 20,000 Ethiopian children are sold into slavery every year by their parents. Traffickers will approach poor rural families to recruit girls for ‘home-help’ work in the city. Despite promises of a good salary or schooling opportunities, children are instead sent into slavery. Victims can work up to 126 hours a week and most are abused. With no skills, contacts, and often no ability to speak the local language, domestic slaves often see prostitution as their only way out.


    Retrak will lead intervention at every stage of the process to stop slavery. Through our outreach, prevention & reform activities, we will:
    - Educate vulnerable groups on the realities of domestic work and challenge the culture of children being seen as economic assets
    - Rescue victims from exploitation & enrol them onto our Lighthouse program. Here they'll access specialist care, education and family reintegration
    - Lobby key stakeholders to address the policy gaps for girls trapped in slavery

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Reduce children's vulnerability to exploitation


    » Run rural self help groups to help vulnerable mothers establish savings, increase their economic security and send their daughters to school.
    » Continue child protection clubs in schools to address peer pressure, female empowerment, realities of city life, slavery & coping with family issues.
    » Conduct community awareness activities to address the lack of knowledge on children's rights, migration, trafficking, city life and slavery.

    What success will look like

    - Self help groups will report on saving enough funds to support their families and fund their daughters schooling.
    - Mothers and girls will choose not to pursue domestic work.

    Aim 2

    Victim support and recovery at our lighthouse centres


    » Retrak's street outreach workers will contact girls on the move as they arrive from rural communities, build trust and tell them about our centers.
    » Children enrolled at our Lighthouse centres will receive food, shelter, medical care, education, counselling, vocational & life skills training.
    » Children will be reintegrated with their families. If this is not possible, we will place them with extended family or a long term foster carer.

    What success will look like

    - We will rescue over 350 children from exploitation and enrol them onto our recovery program
    - 90% of the girls we reintegrate remain at home and doing well a year later

    Aim 3

    Improve law, legislation and policy in place to protect girls from domestic slavery


    » We will continue our work with Federal Police, who have a high staff turnover, to identify girls trapped in slavery.
    » We will continue work with the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs to address the gap in legislation to protect girls from slavery.
    » Retrak will support the Bureau of Women and Children's Affairs in drafting legislation and establishing guidelines

    What success will look like

    - We will influence policy change on domestic slavery which will prevent relevant stake holders from exploiting girls.
    - We will support police in identifying new slavery cases.

    Aim 4

    Hold community conversations with key stake holders to address child protection & welfare concerns


    » Meet with employers, legal domestic workers and brokers and encourage them to improve working conditions and establish contracts.
    » Facilitate conversations with domestic workers and slaves, giving them a space to highlight concerns and explore next steps

    What success will look like

    - We will identify concerns through conversations, addressing each with the police, government & business community.
    - We will improve group relationships & support networks

  • Impact


    We are widely recognised as the experts in working with girls trapped in domestic work in Ethiopia. We adjust our program following learning and share our expertise across international forums.
    Our Big Give funded project has been a huge success so far. We have rescued 365 children from slavery and all our self help groups have reported changed attitudes on sending girls to work, which in turn prevents slavery. Wider successes and shifts are reported through our most significant change stories.


    There has been a change in the leadership of the Ethiopian Government following a period of unrest. There is now however widespread peace and signs of changes in policy that will improve the stability of the country in the long term.
    There is growing interest in tackling Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery internally and externally making this one of our more secure projects.


    Our communications team will report to donors with regular social media and email updates on developments within the project. We additionally share case studies and most significant change stories with our supporters.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £292,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £90,000 Lighthouse centre Activities Transition centre support; staff, programme implementation
      £63,000 Reintegration Reintegrate children into safe family, community or foster care settings. Social workers follow up.
      £15,000 Education and Skills training Providing catch-up numeracy, literacy and arts classes in addition to vocational training.
      £19,000 Medical Care Providing a nurse, medication and follow up care
      £40,000 Self Help Group Implementation Establish Self Help Groups and networks in high risk rural communities
      £21,000 Legislative Development Providing a justice team to work with the government to tackle gaps in anti slavery legislation
      £20,000 Business groups Establish working groups with businesses at risk of accepting slave workers.
      £24,000 Child Protection Clubs Establish child protection clubs in schools for awareness raising activities

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Oak Foundation £20,594 Guaranteed
    Save The Children £101,000 Guaranteed
    Woord En Daad £45,666 Guaranteed
    FHI 360 £106,890 Guaranteed
    Australian Embassy £3,597 Guaranteed
  • Background


    There are over 10,000 girls trapped in domestic slavery in Addis Ababa. There is a significant level of rural to urban migration, with 85% of domestic workers and slaves having migrated or been trafficked from their rural village home to the city. Poverty is a huge issue, with many children begging and sleeping on the street every night. There are very few NGOs in Addis Ababa supporting domestic slaves and workers.


    This project will transform the lives of children rescued from slavery and empower vulnerable families, communities and schools. Our interventions will improve safety, wellbeing, economic stability and opportunities for each of these groups. We will reunite families who have lost their children, supporting them to rebuild. Children we support and reintegrate will have the opportunity to pursue further education and work opportunities that will enable them to rewrite their futures.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are already carrying out this project and plan to continue with the support of secured ongoing funding. We have been hugely successful thus far in surpassing our targets, transforming lives, ending slavery and changing minds on the ethics of child domestic work. We have strong relationships with the police and government and are well resourced. Finally, we are widely recognised as the experts in our field, with organisations including UNICEF frequently consulting with us on this issue.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Maggie Crewes

    Director of Programs. She will oversee the development of this project.

    Lynn Kay

    Ethiopia Country Director. She will lead the project's implementation on the ground and oversee partner relationships.