From their little house just outside the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 10-year-old Asalif and his mother look out on rows of newly-built, concrete apartment blocks. From the forest behind their house, they hear the hyenas howl at night. They used to live where the condominiums now stand. Asalif’s mother had a plot of land there, where she grew crops and kept animals. Now, developers already have their eyes on their new home—they’re worse than the hyenas, his mother says.
It’s a struggle to make a good life for himself here, but fortunately Asalif has no lack of spirit and talent. He’s very skilled when it comes to repairing the discarded electronic devices he finds at the garbage dump. In his dreams, he transforms into a lion (anbessa in Amharic), the only animal that can beat a hyena. Sometimes his imagination takes over, and he finds himself in a fantasy world in which he roams freely and fearlessly through the forests and the new building developments—the latter of which no longer present a threat to his existence.