Kero, 9 years old
Kero was born in Asile, about 40 kilometers away from the tribal villages of the Omo. Kero was denoted as “Teeth Mingi,” meaning her top teeth came in before her bottom teeth. This is considered a bad omen and can often lead to children being declared by the tribal elders as Mingi.
Kero was not with her family when she was rescued by OMO CHILD. In rare cases and at great risk, parents or community members who disagree with the Mingi custom will separate children away from their families for protection. This was Kero’s case. In 2008, OMO CHILD rescued her at the age of five. The village elders waited until her milk teeth fell out and her adult teeth grew in before they marked her as Mingi.
Kero is a very friendly young girl who takes responsibility at the OMO CHILD home, often helping the nannies with the younger children. She is seen as a leader amongst the children and was voted the “chief” of her school! Kero is sweet in nature, often taking on the task of helping the smaller children wash their hands or helping the babies eat. She considers the children of the home her brothers and sisters and treats them as such. Her teachers at school denote her as a joyful girl, always interested in learning new things, and she is known at the home for eating her vegetables without nudging.
Terefe, 5 years old
Terefe (Tere-eh-feh) was rescued at the age of two in 2009 by OMO CHILD. He is a remarkable child who was born in the Bena tribe. During this time, the Bena were split in half; part of the community wanted to end the practice of Mingi whilst the other part wanted to keep it alive. Therefore, Terefe was allowed to live while the tribe decided. He survived on a small amount of food for, what we estimate was, up to a year.
When OMO CHILD found him, he was very dehydrated, skinny, and suffering. The co-founder of OMO CHILD, Lale Labuko, brought him to the OMO CHILD home where he was immediately taken to the Jinka hospital. He was very sick and received treatment for extreme illness and starvation. In an amazing way, he started gaining weight and is now a very healthy and happy boy. OMO CHILD takes pride in Terefe’s unique story. He is the jokester of the OMO CHILD home, often pinching the kids to make them laugh. He attends “Timrhetbet” which is the Amharic (Ethiopian) equivalent to Kindergarten. He walks to school daily with the rest of his OMO CHILD peers and is a favorite of his teachers for his sense of humor.
Ruth, 2 years old
Ruth was a baby girl born to the Kara tribe in 2010. She was marked by Kara elders as “Girl Mingi,” meaning she was born out of wedlock. On her third day of life, Ruth was brought to the OMO CHILD home by her family and community. She is a lucky case as she arrived healthy to the OMO CHILD staff. She is now a happy and healthy two year old bringing joy to every person she meets. Ruth is constantly smiling and an amazing toddler. She is very clever even though she is young. Ruth plays a game with her nannies: she hides her bottle and snatches another from the children, saving her milk for later. Ruth is known as the “adorable cheater” at the home because she is very charming and smart.
Mago, 9 years old
Mago was born in the town Deimeka and was age five when she was rescued by OMO CHILD in 2008. Mago was deemed Teeth Mingi, and has a gap in her teeth which is a symbol of beauty in her culture. She is a very loving child and known by her school teachers as very smart. She loves people and being around them. As an older child, she is supportive and helps the nannies care for the other children.
Kulo Wele, 9 years old
Kulo is from the town of Turmi. He was rescued by OMO CHILD around the age of five, in 2008. Lale Labuko, the Co-Founder of OMO CHILD, brought Kulo to the children’s home himself. Kulo is a very calm child, well disciplined, and very friendly with all the children. Kulo is also an athletic child who loves to run, play, and his favorite activities are sports in the yard. He is very determined in all the activities he undertakes.
Lale Chicha, 2 years old
Lale was born in the Kara Dus village, Southwest Ethiopia, in the Omo River Valley. He was born to a mother who experienced “Girl Mingi,” either unwed or unable to pay an expensive dowry in order to keep her child. Lale was born on November 2, 2010 and rescued by Lale Labuko and the OMO CHILD staff. Lale Labuko named Lale Chicha after his rescue. After his mother gave birth, she was forced by Kara elders to leave baby Lale alone in a hut, with no water or milk. Lale Labuko heard about this child’s birth and drove to Dus village, rescuing him to the OMO CHILD children’s home.
When he arrived at the children’s home in Jinka, he was very ill and weak because of starvation. Immediately, Lale Labuko ordered the car to take him to Addis Ababa (the capital city of Ethiopia) to the hospital. Gido Sura (Lale’s wife) went with baby Lale to Addis and stayed with him in the hospital for three weeks. During his time, baby Lale became healthy, receiving excellent treatment by the hospital and OMO CHILD staff who nurtured him. Now, Lale Chicha is a very happy boy and growing well. Lale Chicha loves his nanny, is known for his cheerful nature, and loves to play. Baby Lale Chicha is known in the children’s home for being very cute. He has a calm personality and we can see by his big smile that he is a playful toddler.
Daniel Taye, 2 years old
Daniel Taye was born in the Kara tribe’s Dus village in Southwest Ethiopia, Omo River Valley. He was born to a mother who experienced Woman Mingi (When couples are married but do not have their pregnancy blessed and approved. In cases of Woman Mingi, babies can be as declared Mingi and sentenced to death.)
Daniel was rescued in February of 2011 by Ariyo Dore and Feyissa Babur of OMO CHILD. When Daniel’s mother was giving birth, the tribal elders came to her home and said they had to kill the child. Daniel’s mother spoke with the elders, asking that she be able to give the child to OMO CHILD instead. OMO CHILD was able to rescue Daniel and has nurtured him since 2011. Daniel Taye is very happy boy and growing well. He loves his nannies and has very kind personality. He is very playful and energetic, always enjoying play time with his OMO CHILD family.
OMO CHILD: Erbo Kala, 6 years old
Erbo Kala was born in the town of Turmi, and in 2009, he was rescued by Lale Labuko and Gude Ari of OMO CHILD. Erbo (Irr-bo) was allowed to live as a possible Mingi child for sometime among his family. His milk teeth grew in at the top before they grew in on the bottom, making Erbo Teeth Mingi. His mother broke Erbo’s top teeth to show the elders that her child’s teeth grew in at the bottom, in order to save the child’s life. The elders did not believe her and warned on cheating the rules of Mingi. Erbo’s mother went to find another way to save her child. She sent a message to the OMO CHILD staff and Lale Labuko rescued him. Erbo, called “The Lion” around the OMO CHILD home, has a calm personality but loves to play with his home mates. You can Erbo’s story, including an interview with his mother in our short film, here. Erbo’s story starts at the 7 minute mark.
OMO CHILD: Kulo Dina, 9 years old
Favorite Food: Bread
Favorite Color: Yellow
Favorite Subject in School: English
What would you like to be when you grow up: Pilot
Closest Friend: Kotsa Haila
Favorite Past-time: Loves playing Soccer
My Caregivers say: He loves being organized and tidy and loves the water.
Kulo Dina is the eldest in our OMO CHILD home.
OMO CHILD: Musse Shoma, 6 years old
Musse Shoma was born around Dimeka in the Simbele Village. He was born in 2008 and rescued by Ariyo Dore and Gude Ari of OMO CHILD. Musse Shoma was named by the nannies of OMO CHILD. His mother and family hid Musse for several years, secretly feeding him and giving him care. In the case of Mingi, it’s often considered taboo to feed or hydrate a child who is Mingi. Hamer tribal elders came to Musse’s mother and father and confronted them about their boy who’s milk teeth were coming in from the top versus the bottom. The elders declared Musse as Mingi, and told Musse’s parents to find another option or they would have to kill him. Musse’s parents remembered the work that OMO CHILD was doing within the community, and contacted the home for his rescue. Musse was rescued and is now growing well at the home. He is known for his cute personality and charming nature.
OMO CHILD: Shoma Bulko, 2 years old
Shoma was born in the Kara tribal village of Dus. He was born to a mother who experienced Woman Mingi in 2011. Shoma was rescued by Feyissa Babur and Lale Sime of OMO CHILD. Shoma Bulko was named by our OMO CHILD staff as are many of our children who are rescued. If a child is Mingi, it’s often unnamed. Shoma’s mother began to show in her pregnancy and the tribal elders condemned her child as Mingi. Shoma’s mother was required to leave her newborn baby alone in a hut, with no food or water, a common occurrence with Mingi infants. Shoma’s father delivered his baby to a policeman in order to save him. The policeman washed Shoma, nourished him, and wrapped him in warm blankets to keep him alive. OMO CHILD was called and rescued Shoma. He is doing very well at the OMO CHILD home where he is in good health, a very funny child, and is considered a handsome toddler boy.
OMO CHILD: Musse Dikara, 5 years old
Musse Dikara was born in the Hamer tribe’s Dimeka village in 2008. He was rescued by Ariyo Dore and Lale Labuko of OMO CHILD. When Musse was a young boy, he was playing in the village and fell. Musse chipped his teeth on a rock where, in this tribal area, a “chipped tooth” of any sort on a child is considered “cursed” or Mingi. The Hamer tribal elders ordered Musse be separated from his family but his mother found another option. Musse’s mother noted that she could not separate from her son or allow the elders to take him. She asked that OMO CHILD be called by telephone and be made aware of this situation. She asked that OMO CHILD come and allowed the staff to rescue her boy in order to save his life. Musse has adjusted well to the home atmosphere where he is very playful and enjoys the company of his nannies and home companions.
OMO CHILD: Zino Karmi, 7 years old
Zino was born in the Kara tribe and grew up as a normal child until the age of three. He was then labeled Teeth Mingi by the tribal elders, meaning his top teeth came in before his bottom teeth. In 2009, OMO CHILD was just beginning formally in Ethiopia and word began to travel that Lale Labuko was rescuing Mingi children. For this reason, Zino’s father brought him to Korcho (a less remote Kara village) where Lale was able to rescue him. Zino was taken to the OMO CHILD home where he lives, happily and healthy. Zino was a healthy child when he was rescued and continues to grow well. He attends private school with his home mates, has a calm personality, and can still understand the native Kara language. Currently, Zino is learning Amharic and English as well. His favorite food is bread served with tea. His favorite color is white and his closest friend at the home is Budo Delti. Though Zino is often a quiet boy he is gifted with music, enjoys singing, and often taps his fingers to the rhythm of songs.
OMO CHILD: Isaac, 8 years old
Born in the Hamer tribe, Isaac (pronounced Yes-ak in Amharic) was rescued close to the town of Dimeka. Isaac’s mother ran away from her village to save her son, declared Teeth Mingi, as his baby teeth were growing in from the top jaw before the bottom jaw. In Dimeka, Isaac’s mother gave her child to the police who then brought him to the OMO CHILD home. Isaac is a rambunctious child and his nannies spend special time with him in order to teach him proper behavior. He is always smiling and enjoys being in front of the camera, whether it is photography or video, he enjoys the spotlight. He loves to run, play and has an energetic disposition.