Melat was born 23 years ago, just outside of Ethiopia’s capital city. When she was still young, both of her parents became ill and passed away, so Melat and her 7 siblings were sent to live with their grandmother. Her grandmother worked hard to send them all to school, and Melat was in 9th grade by the time she met another student named Nebil. They fell in love quickly and hurried to marry, against her family’s wishes. Melat dropped out of school and never returned.
Nebil and Melat moved to Addis Ababa to find work and support their new baby girl, Soliyana. Nebil started trading and distributing sugar, but he wasn't earning enough income to support his family. So he did what many Ethiopians do – he set out to South Africa to find steady work and send back money to his family. Tragically, he was killed by guards as he crossed the border of Tanzania. Seventeen-year old Melat was despondent; left a widow with a young child, and with no source of income.
Desperate to provide for her daughter, Melat started selling cooking charcoal on the street corner. On occasion she would work as a maid, but she earned very little and she and her daughter were always hungry. Two years ago at work, hot oil was spilled down the left side of her body. Her recovery was long and painful, and she wasn't able to work. At this time, the government brought Melat and Soliyana to join Lelt’s programs.
Now, Soliyana is set to start 3rd grade at Reppi Japan Elementary School, after being at the top of her class last year. There is still no word when school will start again during the pandemic. Melat now supports herself and Soliyana by picking up small jobs through the government, but she hasn’t been hired since the country imposed pandemic restrictions on March 16. Melat rents a room near her daughter’s school, but hasn’t been able to pay her rent for months. She told us that the bi-weekly food rations she receives from Lelt are helping them to survive during this difficult time. We are grateful to all of Lelt’s donors and sponsors for making this type of life-saving assistance possible during a very insecure time.