Haben’s Story | Center for Victims of Torture

Haben’s Story

I could not bring all of my children when I fled Eritrea.

Eritrea was my home, where I was raising my children. But I was forced to flee to the camp in Ethiopia because of many difficult situations I was facing. The worst of these problems was that I was forced to give my children to military service, even when they were still young. Once they were in the military, they were treated cruelly and kept from seeing the family. There was nothing I could do about it.

I wanted to take my children and escape, but I had been placed in between two impossible situations: staying and living with the dangerous situation in Eritrea, or fleeing with only some of my children. This was very difficult for me. I hesitated about leaving for a long time. How could I leave two children behind and bring the others with me? I felt very nervous and ashamed. It was such a difficult decision to make – leaving or staying.

Then I received a shock: I learned about the death of a family member, killed by the Eritrean government. That is what convinced me that I must flee and run to the camps in Ethiopia, even though two of my children would stay behind.

It was very difficult. When I crossed the border into Ethiopia, there was a flood in the river. It was very dangerous. I kept thinking that my children would be eaten by the river. This caused deep stress.

When I got to the refugee camp, I had a very heavy weight on myself and felt a lot of stress. I kept thinking about my family member who was killed. I was thinking about my children left behind. I was very upset. Then the professionals in the camp told me about CVT.

CVT was very good and helpful. I used to be isolated and withdrawn, but at CVT I saw many people with problems like mine, people who had lost loved ones. Now I feel I can live again. CVT gave me counseling and practices I can do every day. It helps me to have control of myself.

Now I have been mobilizing people in the camp who are in similar situations. Many women were put in prison because their husbands escaped from Eritrea or they lost loved ones. I want them to get the care I received. I tell them I’ve been helped and I accompany them to CVT.


*Name and some details have been changed for safety and to protect confidentiality.
Image: Dreamstime

CVT’s work with Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia is funded by a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.


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