Doctors, teachers, and complete strangers from across the Bay Area,
California, U.S, are rallying behind Atsade Nigese from Ethiopia, who
survived a brutal act of domestic violence when her husband poured acid
all over her face and body.
Speaking through her friend who served as an interpreter, Nigese says her husband, who was a federal police officer in Ethiopia, regularly beat her and broke her teeth.
But one night, a year ago, after she told him she wanted a divorce, she said he threw acid on her.
is now blind with scarred skin. Her body is disfigured and even her own
son initially rejected her, saying he knew her by her voice but could
not identify anything else about her.Menbere Aklilu of Richmond said she
wanted to help. Two years ago, she helped another Ethiopian woman, who
had also been burned by acid, something she said her ex-fiance had
thrown on her. .
Because of that experience Akilu, who also
survived an abusive relationship, knew how to get Nigese a visa. And
she flew to Ethiopia to retrieve Nigese and invited her to live with her
and get some medical help. Akilu said she’d love it if Nigese could one
day see again. “I want her to get her vision, that’s my dream,” Aklilu
For nearly seven months, Nigese has been living with
Aklilu. The two women, both from Ethiopia, share another special bond,
one they don’t wish on anyone else. Both have survived domestic abuse.
“I see myself through her,” Akilu said. “I’m lucky I run from him. So today I have the ability to help others.” .
her short time living in the Bay Area, Nigese is slowly learning to
become independent once again. She’s learned to get around using a cane.
Three hours a day, five days a week, Nigese learns Braille and English,
with volunteers at her side.
On top of that, doctors from the University of California at San Francisco are donating their time and talents to reconstruct her ears, eyelids nose and mouth