The hash reality of life:The struggles of a female ex soldier in Ethiopia
London, May 22, 2019 (AltAfrica)-A veteran soldier who fought the one-party Derg regime in Ethiopia now lives in poverty in the northern city of Mekelle.
Birha Asebha is forced to sell roasted grains and peanuts on the streets of Mekelle, with all her attempts to find a job unsuccessful.
Ms Birha was a soldier in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which overthrew the Derg regime in 1991 and was the main party in the government until Abiy Ahmed was elected prime minister in April 2018.
After the conflict ended, Ms Birha was among the thousands of soldiers who were demobilised.
She said that she was left on her own to readjust to civilian life, receiving only $70 (£55) a month – not enough to support her two children.
Then Ms Birha decided to return to school to acquire more skills to improve her life.
She completed high school and, on top of that, she managed to obtain a diploma in language and a bachelor degree in management in 2014.
Thereafter, she got a job with Tigray Region state revenue development authority earning about $205 a month.
Once her living standards improved, Ms Birha said she set up an association to help other women veterans – many of whom were involved in brewing local drinks and were living in abject poverty.
The association grew to about 300 members, who provided vital support and care for each other.
Then suddenly, Ms Birha says, the TPLF ordered the women to stop their activities and disband the association.
When the women asked for reasons for their closure, they did not receive a satisfactory answer, Ms Birha said.
When she resisted, the party brought charges against her, accusing her of embezzling $10,000.
She was cleared by a court of what she calls “unfounded” charges.
But Ms Birha says since her court victory, she has not been able to find a meaningful job in the TPLF-controlled region, leaving her with no choice but to sell roasted gains and peanuts in the street. BBC