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Article: The God SamaritaN

© Hanne Tornager / The photo is not of Afia (*the name is a pseudonym; for safety reasons her identity is known only to the shelter) 

Her hands are held tight in her lap. Her head is bent down. The red roses scattered on the purple dress contrasting the serious expressions on her face.

“I came here for the skills training. I have learned that I can work and provide for myself”, Afia* says with a soft voice, looking up briefly before looking down at her hands again. “I want to work more. I do not want to become a beggar,” she adds, while rubbing her hands tightly.

Afia is 32 years old and from Tigray. She fled the region nine months ago seeking refuge in a shelter for women and girls. She left her 7 year-old daughter in the care of her mother.

The shelter is on the outskirts of Gondar, a bustling city with 500,000 inhabitants in the region of Amhara in northern Ethiopia. In a quiet part of town, the shelter offers survivors of sexual violence refuge and a safe space to recover and prepare for a life without violence.

The shelter is run by the Good Samaritan Association, an Ethiopian NGO, with support from the UNWomen progamme “Ending Violence Against Women and Girls” (EVAWG). The shelter offers food, accommodation, psychosocial support and counselling, legal aid, skills trainings and health services for women and girls who are survivors of gender based violence.

Gender Based Violence is a key concern within the communities affected by the now ended conflict in northern Ethiopia. The conflict has exacerbated pre-existing patterns of discrimination against women and girls, exposing them to heightened risks of sexual violence.

Afia stayed in the shelter for five days before returning to the place she stays now. She still visits the shelter twice weekly for psychosocial support and to participate in skills training. “I hope that I one day soon again can provide for my family.”  Afia has participated in the skills training focusing on creating her own business and she now runs her own shop selling spices in the streets of Gondar.

Denmark funds the UN Women EVAWG-programme together with other partners including Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.