Eta wants her daughter to have the education she never received. Growing up in northern Ethiopia, Eta’s mother died shortly after she was born. Her father remarried and had more children, but Eta never felt part of the family. While her step-siblings went to school, she stayed home to do housework. And when she was only 16, she was put into an arranged marriage. While her step-siblings and peers were going to school, Eta was pregnant with her first child.
Soon after Eta and her husband Bedelu had their first child, they moved to Addis Ababa to find work and a better life. Because he left school in 8th grade, Bedelu didn’t have skills to find employment. He managed to find a job as a security guard, but the salary is very meager. Four more children were born, and Eta was immersed in their upbringing. As their family grew, they fell deeper and deeper into poverty.
After the children were old enough to attend school, Eta started collecting plastic bottles for recycling. It is dirty, laborious work, but she wants her children to have the opportunity to stay in school. The family applied for assistance in Lelt’s programs through the Ethiopian government, and we have been providing assistance to their family for nearly ten years. Eta’s daughter Mekides, now 17, has been enrolled in Lelt’s education program since she was in grade school. She is now preparing for her senior year and college entrance exams. Her favorite classes are Civics and Mathematics. She isn’t afraid to dream big because of the opportunities she has been given through her education. When asked what she wants to do when she graduates, Mekides said, “I want to be in a leadership role when I’m finished in college. Maybe someday the CEO of a company.”