He was tense and his voice sounded full of fear. He requested me to listen carefully, and be intentional about the situation at hand. Two vehicles were required for the moment as three babies had been declared mingi in two different tribal villages - Dalemi and Guni .
The average age of the kids was one and a half years.
The area chief had declared them mingi and therefore the villagers had to kill them immediately.
I (Lale) immediately arranged for the rescue team and the driver to travel to the villages in the
morning to save the children's lives.
The Hamer coordinator had warned me not to accompany the rescue team to the village as it posed a risk for my life and also for anyone else who wished to travel to the village. His exact words were, "It is dangerous for you Lale Labuko to come to this village and some of them may kill you.”
The rescue team started the journey to the valley early in the morning and arrived at Dalemi village in the afternoon after a long drive.
Sadly, two children had already been killed by the tribal elders in the preceding night at around midnight. One elderly man said that the two children had been pushed off a cliff in the middle of the night and that it was a sad and tragic end to the lives of the two babies.
The mother of one of the 3 babies had hid her child at the foot of a cave, waiting for the arrival of the rescue team. Hers is a story similar to the one in the bible where Moses' mother hid her child from Pharos' command as stated in Exodus 2:3. She had received information about a rescue team that was traveling from Jinka to Dalemi to save her son's life.
When she heard that the car had arrived at the village, she requested the coordinator to bring the child home, from the foot of the cave.
The father was so scared of the elders to cursing him and of the alleged ‘evil spirit’. He was afraid that the elders would burn down his house.
The mother was brave enough to stand up for the baby and had him rescued from the wrath of the tribal village elders.
The child was very lucky to have survived the onslaught of the elders.
The Omo Child rescue team rescued the child and drove him to safety in Jinka at the children home.
One of my deputy managers, David, was in the rescue team. He firmly believes that the rescued child will one day, be king of Hamer.
We named him Dawit, an Amharic name which means David in English.
Most of the tribal villages in Hamer lack infrastructure - good roads are non-existant. We also had challenges with our old land-cruiser rescue car (about 14 years old). The driver had a flat tyre and a broken rear wheel.
Had it not been for these unforeseen challenges, our rescue would have arrived just in time to
save the other two babies that sadly met their death in a horrific way. Hopefully we can
one day get a new vehicle to help save more lives of such children.
Welcome to the family Dawit!