In a heartfelt plea to the renowned Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, Mentewab Dawit Lebiso, the biological mother of Jolie’s adopted Ethiopian daughter Zahara, has expressed her desire to reconnect with her 12-year-old daughter. Despite facing poverty, Mentewab dreams of being a part of Zahara’s life and has called for Jolie to obtain custody of their daughter in the midst of her bitter separation from Brad Pitt. While she understands that the likelihood of regaining full custody is slim, Mentewab yearns for the opportunity to simply hear Zahara’s voice and have regular communication with her. Living in Ethiopia, Mentewab’s ultimate wish is for Zahara to recognize her existence and longs for the chance to engage in heartfelt conversations with her beloved daughter.
In a heartfelt plea, Mentewab Dawit Lebiso, the biological mother of Zahara Jolie Pitt, shares her earnest desire to establish a connection with her daughter. Mentewab, who hails from Ethiopia, bravely persevered through a challenging pregnancy resulting from a distressing incident. As the mother of Zahara, Mentewab yearns to bridge the gap that has separated them and hopes for the opportunity to establish a meaningful relationship with her long-lost child.
Reunion Request: Mentewab, shown on the left in the above picture, welcomed the arrival of Zahara, shown on the right with Angelina Jolie in 2007, in Ethiopia. Unfortunately, due to Mentewab’s severe illness, Zahara had to be put up for adoption. Mentewab deeply longs for the chance to reconnect with her daughter, and it saddens her immensely that they have had no contact so far.
Poverty: In the heart of Ethiopia, Mentewab finds solace in her humble abode, where she earns a meager income by leasing two rooms, barely amounting to £15 per month.
A Mother’s Unending Yearning: Mentewab disclosed to MailOnline that despite the loss of Zahara during infancy, a deep sorrow lingers within her. ‘The absence weighs heavy on my heart, as I constantly yearn for her presence. Each day, my thoughts are consumed by the anticipation of hearing her voice and gazing upon her radiant smile once more.’
Fresh start: The journey Zahara Jolie Pitt would have embarked on in Ethiopia stands in stark contrast to the opulence of Los Angeles and the glamorous life she now leads with her Hollywood star and humanitarian advocate mother, Angelina Jolie. Nevertheless, her birth mother continues to endure the harsh realities of destitution.
Mentewab openly acknowledges that the Jolie-Pitt family has provided her daughter with everything she could ever desire. She admires Angelina’s role as a mother to Zahara, recognizing that she has been there for her since she was a baby. However, Mentewab does admit that she misses her daughter dearly.
Her longing for Zahara is constant. Thoughts of her daughter consume her thoughts every single day, and Mentewab yearns to hear her voice and see her face. Although she is aware of Zahara’s birthdays, it saddens her that she cannot celebrate them together. Mentewab wishes she could have regular contact with her daughter.
Daily Mail Online managed to locate Mentewab in a town located in central Ethiopia, away from the popular tourist attractions and the capital, Addis Ababa. During an exclusive interview, Mentewab’s sadness was evident as she mentioned Zahara’s name and expressed her hopes of one day reuniting with her.
Even after 12 years have passed since she made the difficult decision to give up her only child for adoption, the pain is still visible on Mentewab’s face when she speaks about Zahara.
Lonely celebrations: In an interview with MailOnline, Mentewab shared the heartfelt sentiment of being aware of Zahara’s birthday each year, yet unable to joyfully commemorate it together.
Casual: Mentewab’s sole source of income comes from her modest little house, where she also rents out two rooms. However, it’s been quite some time since the 31-year-old received any letters, pictures, or financial support from Angelina following the adoption that took place twelve years ago.
Country: This rustic pathway where cows roam freely is probably the type of place where Zahara Jolie Pitt would have called home if she hadn’t been adopted by the renowned actress Angelina. Presently, it serves as the humble abode for her biological mother, Mentewab, who manages to make ends meet in this serene rural setting.
In Ethiopia, there is a humble road where Mentewab resides, struggling with poverty. To maintain her privacy, she has decided not to showcase any photographs of her daughter. This choice stems from her desire to keep the fact that she gave her daughter to a renowned female star in Hollywood a secret, making sure the town’s residents remain oblivious to this information.
Savage sexual assault: On a fateful night, during her grandmother’s absence for business matters, an unknown intruder forcefully assaulted her, inflicting great harm. As time passed, it was evident that Mentewab was pregnant, and sadly, her own family chose to sever all ties with her.
Mentewab resides in an impoverished Ethiopian village, yet she manages to keep up with her daughter’s achievements online and stays informed through her brother living in the United States.
Challenge: Initially, Mentewab decided to take care of her daughter, whom she lovingly named Yemasrech, translating to ‘good news’. However, she faced financial difficulties and eventually made the difficult decision to leave, entrusting her daughter’s care to her mother, Almaz Elfneh (seen on the left).
Absence of conflict: Mentewab clarifies that she is not seeking to regain custody of her daughter and admires Angelina Jolie as a loving mother. Her main desire is for Zahara to be aware of her unconditional love, similar to that of Jolie’s. With a touch of sadness in her eyes, Mentewab softly expresses in her Amharic language, “I wish for Zahara to understand that she has a mother who loves her just as much as Angelina does. I am cognizant of the fact that Zahara’s life with Angelina is in a different country and language. She has opportunities and experiences I could never provide, but I yearn for some form of contact. Seeing her face and witnessing her growth into a remarkable young woman fills me with immense pride. It is my fervent wish, before my time is up, for Zahara to know about me and her extended family here in Ethiopia. I appeal to Angelina to allow me to communicate with her. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.”
Since Jolie took Zahara to America when she was just six months old in 2005, Mentewab has had no contact with her daughter. Over the past 12 years, Mentewab never received any correspondence from Jolie, be it cards or letters. While it is uncommon for adopted children to have regular contact with their birth parents, they do possess the right to seek out their birth parents once they reach the age of 18.
Despite the combined wealth of Mentewab and Pitt, estimated to be over $500 million, Mentewab has not been offered any financial assistance to escape the destitution in which she resides. Surviving on less than £15 per month, she lives in a small one-room dwelling devoid of basic amenities such as running water and a toilet. “The lack of financial support does not worry or disappoint me,” Mentewab states.
When Jolie adopted Zahara in 2005, she was informed that the child had been orphaned and had lost her parents to AIDS. It wasn’t until 2007, when Mentewab granted her first interview, that Jolie became aware of Mentewab’s existence.
Motherly: Angelina Jolie’s evident adoration for her freshly welcomed daughter Zahara was displayed as she affectionately pressed a kiss onto her little head upon their arrival to the United States in 2005.
Angelina Jolie shared that when she adopted Zahara in 2005, she was informed that Zahara’s mother had passed away due to Aids. Jolie further added that Zahara was also dealing with dehydration and malnutrition at the time. However, it eventually turned out that Zahara’s mother was actually alive.
A fresh addition to the Jolie family came about when Angelina Jolie warmly welcomed her first adopted son, Maddox, from Cambodia back in 2002. This heartwarming act of compassion was followed by the adoption of her daughter Zahara from Ethiopia in 2005.
A Tale of Abundance: Zahara, caught in a snapshot with Angelina Jolie on the left and her sister Shiloh on the right in 2015, emerged into a world overshadowed by destitution in Ethiopia. Luckily, Jolie took her under her wing after Zahara’s mother suffered an illness following childbirth. Now, living a life of prosperity, Zahara’s biological mother, surviving on a mere £15 per week, yearns for a chance to reconnect and communicate with her daughter.
Mentewab is determined not to disrupt her daughter’s life or seek financial gain. Instead, all she desires is some form of contact with her daughter, Zahara. Living in a modest home in an Ethiopian town, she gestures towards its bare concrete walls and expresses her lack of need for money. Mentewab acknowledges that Angelina Jolie is under no obligation to provide financial support, but her sole wish is to have a conversation with Zahara.
Zahara, the second child adopted by Jolie and her now ex-husband Brad Pitt, is one of six children in their family. Currently, Jolie has custody of all six children while the couple navigates their divorce settlement and determines the final custody arrangement. The children reside with Jolie in Malibu, California, following allegations against Pitt that were later dismissed, and unverified rumors of drug use.
Mentewab stays informed about the divorce from her relatives in the US, who read out media stories to her. Through the internet, she has also become aware of the allegations against Pitt. In the highly publicized custody battle, Mentewab unequivocally supports Jolie, regarding her as a good mother deserving of their children’s presence. Despite the split, Mentewab believes that Zahara will not be greatly impacted. Additionally, she credits Pitt as being a good father to Zahara.
Abandoned: Following Mentewab’s departure, Almaz bravely brought the infant to the nearby community council, seeking assistance as she grew increasingly concerned about the child’s deteriorating health due to severe malnourishment. Back in 2007, Almaz made a heartfelt plea to the Kebele, expressing her desperation and urging them to save the baby’s life by taking custody.
On her own but well-informed: Mentewab, despite being unmarried and without any other children, remains in the loop. Her older brother, residing in America, keeps her updated by sharing news stories from the media regarding the divorce. Through the internet, she has also discovered the accusations directed towards the 53-year-old Pitt. Taking a strong stance, Mentewab firmly supports Jolie in the highly publicized custody dispute between the couple.
A broken promise is at the heart of the ongoing custody battle between Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. According to reports, a fixer had taken the couple’s adopted child, Zahara, to Addis Ababa, with the promise to keep in touch. However, this promise was allegedly not fulfilled, leaving Zahara’s biological mother, Mentewab, longing for communication with her daughter.
In an interview with MailOnline, Mentewab expressed her desire to speak with Zahara, stating that she does not want any financial support from Angelina. She acknowledges that she is unsure of who is right or wrong in the situation, but emphasizes the sadness of a broken marriage. Nevertheless, Mentewab believes that both Jolie and Pitt love their children and will ensure their well-being and safety.
Mentewab also addressed the negative portrayal of Pitt in the media, stating that she does not recognize the person described. She believes that he has been a caring and responsible father to Zahara, and hopes that the couple can resolve their issues and move forward with their lives.
After Jolie filed for divorce, there were reports of a potential restraining order against Pitt due to an alleged incident involving their son Maddox on a private flight. Child protection agencies in Los Angeles conducted an investigation, which was eventually dropped. However, Jolie insisted that Pitt undergo regular drug testing as part of their ongoing custody arrangements.
Pitt recently filed court documents requesting that all records regarding custody issues be kept confidential. Mentewab, however, does not want to take sides in the custody battle. While she believes that the children should stay with their mother, she hopes for a resolution that prioritizes their well-being above all else.
Simple: Mentewab currently resides in this humble abode, a property constructed by her father. To sustain herself, she chooses to generate income by leasing two of its rooms. However, it is noteworthy that she firmly declines any financial assistance from Angelina Jolie.
Birthplace: Zahara, originally known as Yemasrech, which translates to ‘positive announcement’, was born in Shone, a dusty Ethiopian town where Mentewab was residing with her grandmother.
Despite Zahara’s notable and easily recognizable name, Mentewab has had no difficulties keeping up with her daughter’s life.
Mentewab keeps a file filled with newspaper clippings and photographs of her daughter and Jolie, safely tucked away in one of the few pieces of furniture in her living room.
The photographs from celebrity magazines have been repeatedly handled, resulting in their worn appearance.
Mentewab purposely avoids displaying any photographs of her daughter, as she doesn’t want the people in her town to discover that she gave her child to one of Hollywood’s renowned female stars.
Even Mentewab’s cousins, who live in the adjacent house, remain oblivious to the fact that Zahara Jolie-Pitt is her daughter.
Mentewab is not comfortable discussing the adoption, as it brings back painful memories of not only losing her baby but also the traumatic circumstances in which she became pregnant.
According to Mentewab, she gave birth to a baby girl named Yemasrech when she was 19 years old.
In her native Amharic language, the name signifies ‘positive announcement’.
The father of her child was unknown, as the pregnancy was a result of a horrifying rape incident.
Mentewab was staying at her grandmother’s house in Shone when an intruder broke in and assaulted her.
Fearful of informing her parents, she had no choice but to reveal the truth when her pregnancy began to become visible.
Initially, Mentewab’s family disowned her, and she relocated to the nearby town of Hosanna, where she claims to have given birth to the baby, later named Zahara, in January 2005.
Absolutely breathtaking yet tragically indigent – this is the harsh reality that envelopes the majority of households in Shone, the very place where Mentewab faced her unthinkable assault. In such dire circumstances, children are left with no choice but to labor diligently in order to sustain not only themselves, but also their extended kinship. As we witness a camel seemingly gliding through the bordering sprawl of this township, it serves as a poignant symbol of the immense struggle overshadowing this community.
Dry: Amidst the scorching temperatures near Awassa, the place where Zahara was brought for adoption, a gentleman transports logs across the vast plains, exemplifying the harsh reality of the impoverished families that Zahara originated from.
Casually, it is evident that poverty looms over Awassa, the place where Zahara was brought for her adoption. This is exemplified by the sight of children engaging in play near the airport’s border in this town.
Young women of Zahara’s generation stroll down the bustling streets of Shone, Ethiopia, their lives characterized by both similarities and disparities. While they all share a similar age range, their individual experiences diverge when it comes to education and their obligations to provide for their families. Although most of these young women attend school until the age of 16, they also find themselves balancing the demands of work to support their households.
Engaged in labor: Two young boys diligently sweep the dusty streets in Awassa, Ethiopia, the place where Zahara was adopted. Struggling with poverty and homelessness, Mentewab recounted how her daughter became severely malnourished and teetered on the brink of death. “My baby was ill, and I was too weak and sick after giving birth,” she shared. In a prior interview, Mentewab’s mother, Almaz Elfneh, explained that she had taken care of the child when Mentewab fled, unable to handle the pressure of earning enough and looking after her daughter.
Refuting accusations of abandonment, Mentewab informed MailOnline that she was incapacitated due to her illness and could not provide proper care for her daughter. She explained that her mother, uncle, and his wife suggested putting Zahara up for adoption, a suggestion she weakly agreed to. Though she consented to the adoption at the time, if given another chance, Mentewab would have chosen to keep her baby.
Mentewab expressed her immense gratitude to Angelina Jolie for saving her baby’s life and her own, stating, “By taking her, Angelina not only saved my baby but also saved me. I will forever be thankful to her for that.” The adoption of Zahara was handled by the Wide Horizons For Children agency in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. Upon Jolie’s return to the United States with Zahara, rumors circulated that the birth mother had succumbed to AIDS. However, twelve years later, Mentewab remains irate that people were led to believe she died from the disease. She holds a “Mr. Fix-it,” who managed the adoption, responsible for fabricating this false narrative.
Please note that there is no implication of any wrongdoing on Angelina Jolie’s part in the adoption process, nor any suggestion that she was aware of Zahara’s alleged history.
Manual labor: In the bustling city of Awassa, Ethiopia, a determined woman diligently sweeps the dusty streets. It is here, in this vibrant town, that young girls who manage to complete their education often face the harsh reality of having to relocate in search of employment opportunities. Awassa holds a significant place in Zahara’s life as she was lovingly adopted in this very place.
Fishing for survival: The local fishermen are seen bringing in their bountiful morning catch from the expansive Lake Awassa. This serene lake lies in close proximity to a bustling and dusty town with a population of approximately 258,808 inhabitants. Interestingly, it is in this very town that the famous Angelina Jolie chose to adopt her daughter back in 2005.
Rural: If 12-year-old Zahara had stayed in Awassa or Shone, her dreams and aspirations would have been completely different. In Ethiopia, it is customary for girls to marry and start having children in their late teens. In the photo, fishermen can be seen bringing in their catch on Lake Awassa.
After giving up her child, Mentewab chose to live with her parents and three sisters. However, seven years ago, she made a big decision. She moved to a town about 100 kilometers away with her father, who had bought a small plot of land for $133. This land was located about 100 meters away from the main road that runs through the town.
Her father built a one-room house for Mentawab, where she currently lives. He also built two more rooms that she can rent out for $20 per month, which is her only source of income. Sadly, her father passed away soon after completing the construction, leaving Mentawab to live alone in the concrete house with a corrugated iron roof.
Inside the house, there is a main living room with a small table and three chairs. On one side of the room is a single bed, separated from the living area by a washing line filled with drying clothes. Mentewab keeps a collection of photos of her daughter in a battered chest of drawers. She also owns a small 15-inch TV. The room is illuminated by a single 60-watt light bulb, which Mentewab switches on by connecting two bare wires. There is no heating or air conditioning, and the toilet is a small hole in the ground. A small stove in one corner serves as Mentewab’s means for cooking. She seems to possess very few belongings, if any at all.
Similar to thousands of others in Ethiopia, Mentawab faces a constant struggle for survival. Her life stands in stark contrast to the luxurious and privileged lifestyle led by Jolie and her children, including Zahara, who has shown an interest in modeling. While the Jolie-Pitt family travels in private jets between their multimillion-pound homes, Mentewab relies on walking for transportation. Her daily journey to college often involves sharing the road with donkeys, cows, and goats that roam freely in the streets.
Not satisfactory: The Wide Horizons For Children organization based in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, was responsible for managing the adoption process. After Jolie returned to the United States with Zahara, rumors emerged about her biological mother’s tragic demise due to AIDS.
City: Even after twelve years have passed since the conclusion of the agreement in Addis Ababa, Mentewab continues to harbor resentment over the false belief that she had succumbed to the illness.
The Wide Horizons adoption agency, where Angelina Jolie adopted Zahara, is depicted in a photo taken in July 2005 in Addis Ababa during Jolie and Pitt’s visit to pick her up.
In the town where Mentewab resides, there are approximately 100,000 inhabitants who share the streets with animals. Many children take on the responsibility of tending to goat herds that roam through the town.
Outside Mentewab’s home, a weathered front gate made of corrugated iron encloses the area. Three cows can be seen scouring the dust-covered ground in search of food.
Inside the small property, young children with bare feet and dirt-smeared faces wander around alongside several chickens.
Mentewab’s income primarily comes from renting out the two rooms in her home. Additionally, she receives financial support from her brother, who resides in Texas after winning a green card through the US lottery. He works as a truck driver and sends her money when he can.
Mentewab acknowledges that she is barely making ends meet, and it is this reason that she does not want her daughter to return home.
According to Mentewab, representatives of Jolie and Pitt visited her two years after the adoption to discuss potential contact. She expressed her desire to simply be allowed to speak with her daughter. However, when this message was relayed to Angelina, it was distorted, suggesting that Mentewab wanted her daughter back permanently and would not permit her to return to America.
Mentewab admits that the loss of her daughter and the inability to see her has greatly impacted her life.
Happy families: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were captured on camera departing from the Venice festival in 2007 accompanied by their children Zahara, Shiloh, and Maddox.
Despite never tying the knot, Mentewab has consciously chosen not to have any more children. In her own words, she stated, “I have already entrusted one child to another and I am determined not to repeat that experience. I yearn to be able to provide for my own child. If I ever found myself in a situation where I had to give away another child, I would exhaust all possibilities and passionately seek assistance from every door before resorting to that decision,” she assured.
“My independence is of utmost importance to me, which is why I have made the decision to never marry. I desire the ability to support myself.”
To achieve her goal and one day establish a family of her own, Mentewab is currently pursuing a three-year program in woodworking at a nearby technical college. Her ambition is to craft furniture and establish her very own store.
“I dream of acquiring the necessary machinery, employing a skilled team, and taking charge of all aspects,” she shared enthusiastically.
Child guardianship: Following their high-profile separation, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have made a commitment to maintain the confidentiality of their divorce proceedings, putting an end to the continuous stream of negative media attention they have endured for months. Depicted in the photograph is Brad Pitt (on the right) holding their son Knox in his arms, while Angelina Jolie carries their daughter Vivienne, accompanied by their other children Zahara, Maddox, and Shiloh, as they arrived at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport back in January 2009.
The family of eight has frequently been captured at international airports, with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie leading their six children as they arrive in Japan. Mentewab, the mother of one of the children, finds solace in looking at pictures of her daughter on her mobile phone while she awaits the opportunity to speak with her. She takes great pride in seeing her daughter grow into a beautiful young woman, but also experiences sadness as she knows she is missing out on her daughter’s upbringing. Despite these mixed emotions, she is incredibly proud of her daughter’s progress. Angelina Jolie, during an interview with CNN, shared that when she adopted Zahara in 2005, she was informed that Zahara was an AIDS orphan. Jolie also admitted that she was unsure of Zahara’s conception. Zahara was in poor health when Jolie rescued her from an orphanage in Addis Ababa. She had to be hospitalized due to dehydration and malnutrition, and there were concerns about other health issues, such as a potential mass in her arm. Fortunately, these concerns turned out to be different medical conditions, and Zahara did not have HIV. As Jolie’s film career flourished, she became increasingly involved in humanitarian causes.
Mummy’s Warm Embrace: The heartfelt connection between Angelina and Zahara shines through in numerous captivating snapshots, capturing Jolie’s sheer joy as she lovingly embraces her cherished adoptive daughter during her early years and confidently holds her hand as she blossoms into a young lady.
Despite the growing tensions within their relationship, the entire family was captured together in 2014 at the premiere of Maleficent. With their children, Pax Jolie-Pitt, Zahara Jolie-Pitt, Knox Jolie-Pitt, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, and Maddox Jolie-Pitt, the couple presented a united front. Angelina Jolie’s involvement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) began in 2001 when she was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador. Her role was to raise awareness about the struggles faced by refugees. Leveraging her celebrity status, Jolie visited more than 20 countries, shedding light on humanitarian issues and advocating for those seeking a fresh start as refugees. Her travels took her to Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Cambodia, Pakistan, Syria, and Iraq, among others. Jolie and her husband, Brad Pitt, established the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which aimed to protect natural resources and preserve wildlife. Additionally, Jolie has been actively engaged in US politics, meeting with lawmakers in Washington DC on over 20 occasions to champion causes close to her heart. In 2010, Jolie was promoted from Goodwill Ambassador to a diplomat by the United Nations. She now serves as a special envoy, representing the UN Refugee Agency to diplomats, governments, and officials across the globe. Despite attempts, there was no response from Angelina Jolie’s representatives when requested for a comment.