Tigist Teresa was 14-years-old when she fled her home to escape an arranged marriage to a man she had been promised to since she was 12.

By Liz Keen |

Tigist Teresa was born in rural Ethiopia the same year that Bob Geldof put a spotlight on her country’s horrific famine.

Now, living in Coffs Harbour in regional Australia, Ms Teresa is frustrated by the ramifications that Geldof’s Band Aid program had on the perceptions of her home.

“I did, a lot of times, feel disappointed about the way people talk about Ethiopia, all people know is that there was hunger and people were starving,” she said.

“I never starved, we were never hungry at all.”

AUDIO: Tigist Teresa’s story (ABC News)People come into her restaurant and say she must feel lucky to have so much food, and that they are surprised an Ethiopian restaurant has food.

She finds these comments insulting.

She said she was frustrated that many Australians did not know there was currently a civil war in Ethiopia, and that many people had died fighting the government.

She believes this is because the Ethiopian wants to push the famine story out, so they can get money, but they don’t want people to know about the war.

“At least 40 people a week die in the war for weeks and weeks, and that sort of news doesn’t exist,” she said.

Escaping arranged marriage

Ms Teresa grew up in a traditional family on a farm in a place called Qoro Hari.

Her father had two wives and she has 17 brothers and sisters; they farmed all their food and bought only salt.

She did not start school until she was 10 years old, because the school was a three-hour walk each way.

“We grew up the traditional way and my family still lives that way, which is amazing,” she said.

Continue reading this story on ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
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