By Lionel Tarumbwa
April 23rd, 2019
The year was 1980 and Ethiopia lay in the grip of what would become one of the most devastating famines in its history.
Abebech Gobena, a devout Christian, was on a pilgrimage to a holy site in the north-east region of the country when she came across a dead mother and her baby, lying amid a sea of people who were starving to death.
“One of the chauffeurs charged with picking up the corpses said to me, ‘I am waiting for the child to die so I can pick up both bodies. I just can’t bear to take the child as well while she is still alive,'” Gobena said in an interview with CNN.
Without a second thought, Gobena bundled the tiny girl into her arms and smuggled her to the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. In that instant, she transformed both the baby’s future and her own. In one year, she brought 21 children to her home.
Haunted by the images of the dying people, it wasn’t long before Gobena headed back to the countryside in an effort to source water for the destitute locals. She came across another child in the arms of his dying father.