ROSEVILLE, CA – A former Sacramento real estate developer and his wife are trying to stop the killing of Ethiopian children by parents who cling to a bizarre tribal ritual.
“For some reason or another, different children are called cursed,” explained Levi Benkert, who moved to Ethiopia with his wife Jessie and their three children in 2009 to try to rescue “cursed” children from death.
Benkert, 29, said children born with perceived defects as inconsequential as a top row of baby teeth coming in before the bottom will be killed by members of three tribes in southern Ethiopia because of fears the children could bring bad luck.
The tribes use the term “mingi” to describe the children, which means dirty or unclean in their language.
Benkert traveled to Ethiopia for a two-week visit in March 2009 after hearing a report of the mingi killings. “I couldn’t believe that it was true. I thought somebody was exaggerating,” he said.
Benkert not only learned the report was true, but that as many as 800 mingi infants and young children are killed by the three tribes each year.
With the collapse of the housing market, the couple and their three children moved to Ethiopia in May 2009 to work with a fledgling rescue operation called Drawn from Water, so named because many of the mingi children are drowned in the river that flows through the tribal area.
The family was in Northern California for the holidays and planned to return to Ethiopia in mid-January.
Drawn from Water has saved 32 mingi children in less than two years, including a 21-month-old toddler whose parents stuffed her mouth with dirt and left her outside to suffocate when she was one hour old.
The newborn was rescued by a tribal member who was working with the organization and was later adopted by the Benkerts, who named her Everly.
“At birth she was considered mingi because her mother and father didn’t kill a goat to announce that they were going to expand their family. So she was put out to be killed at birth,” Levi Benkert said.
Check out their website for more info: drawnfromwater.org
Read More from: news10.net