PERREAULT Magazine SEPT | OCT 2016 - Page 24

Perreault Magazine - 24 -

At age 15, Lale saw 5-6 elders from his tribe in Ethiopia tear a two-year-old girl from her mother’s arms. In Lale’s words: “Child was crying-mother was crying. They separated mother from child and went to river. The child was never seen again.” Lale went to his mother to ask what was happening and she did not want to tell him. He said “tell me, tell me, I want to know!” Before she told him, she said “This is a secret, no one talking this, only old people talking this.” On that day, he heard the word “mingi” for the first time, an ancient term to describe a cursed infant deserving death.

Certain criteria form the basis for Mingi killings: If teeth appear on the top before the bottom, they kill the child right away. If a girl is pregnant before marriage, they will kill the baby right away when it is born. When a woman wants to have a child, she has to get 3 blessings from the elders. If she misses one, the baby is killed.

After witnessing the ritualistic killing of infants and children in his own tribe, 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer and humanitarian Lale Labuko co-founded Omo Child to provide safety, care, and education for the children he rescues.