In a heartfelt plea to Jolie, Mentewab Dawit Lebiso expressed her desires to speak with Zahara and have the chance to hear the 12-year-old’s voice after all these years apart.
“I just want her to know that I am alive and here and long to be able to speak with her,” she told the Daily Mail. “I do not want my daughter back but just to be in contact with her and be able to call her up and talk with her.”
According to the publication, Lebiso became pregnant with Zahara after she was raped by a stranger. A few months following the brutal assault, which took place in her own home, she was disowned by her family when it became apparent that she was with child.
These days, Lebiso reportedly makes a living out of renting two rooms from small house located in central Ethiopia, earning approximately $18 a month. She’s currently living in a one-room home without running water or toilet. Lebiso has never been married or had any other children since giving birth to Zahara.
“Angelina has been more of a mother to her than I have ever been. She has been with her since she was a baby, but that does not mean I do not miss her,” she says of Zahara, who Jolie adopted in 2005. “I miss her all the time. I think about her every day and long to hear her voice or see her face. I know when she has a birthday but I am sad because I can’t celebrate it with her. I would so much want to celebrate with her on her birthday and other special days.”
“I would like Zahara to know she has a mother who loves her as much as Angelina. I know her life is with Angelina is in another country and she speaks another language than me,” she continued. “She has a life that I could never give her, but I would still like to have some contact. I would like to see her face. She has grown into a beautiful woman and I am so proud of her. My heart bursts because I am so proud.”
Asking Jolie for help to reconnect her with Zahara, Lebiso added, “We all die sometime and before I die I would like her to know about me and that she has family here in Ethiopia. I would ask Angelina to let me speak with her. I do not think it is too much to ask.”
Lebiso gave up Zahara — then named Yemasrech after the Amharic word for “good news” — for adoption when she became too ill to take care of the child. An agency Addis Ababa called Wide Horizons For Children handled the adoption. Jolie was said to be unaware of Lebiso’s existence as the actress was told that the baby’s mother had died from AIDS.
“I want my daughter to stay with Angelina. She is a good mother and all children should stay with their mother,” Lebiso shared. “By taking her Angelina has saved my baby’s life and she also saved my life. I will always be very grateful to her for that.”
Lebiso’s plea follows news that Jolie is seeking sole custody of her six children in her divorce with Brad Pitt. Though Lebiso has never had contact with the couple, she believes they are good parents.
“I am sorry that they are splitting up and I will pray for them, but I do not think it will affect Zahara that much,” she said. “I do not know who is in the right and who is in the wrong. It is very sad when a marriage breaks up, but I known they will be thinking about their children. I am not worried about Zahara in this as she will be looked after by them both. I know they love the children and they will not want any hurt to come to them.”