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From Begging to Empowering Others: Habtamu's Story

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

In a country where few services are available for people with disabilities, Habtamu Sale has defied the odds. His story is a testament to the power of resilience and transformation. Despite being visually impaired, he has not only changed his own life, but has become a beacon of hope for many others in his community.

Habtamu was born near Gondar, in the north of Ethiopia. He faced numerous challenges from an early age due to his visual impairment. Like many blind individuals in his community, he initially resorted to begging to sustain himself. Life was a constant struggle, and he dreamed of a day when he could earn a livelihood with dignity and respect.

In his thirties, Habtamu was determined to make a change and sought alternative ways to make a living. He began selling lottery tickets and prayer candles near the churches, hoping that this venture would provide a more sustainable income. However, being blind, this job proved to be immensely challenging and exhausting. Despite his best efforts, making ends meet remained a constant battle.

Habtamu, far right, in the Salu Workshop

One day while making his work rounds, Habtamu heard about a training program for Persons with Disabilities led by Lelt’s partner organization, Salu Association. This discovery marked a turning point in his life, and he registered for the program. Habtamu joined a six-month training program where he immersed himself in learning the skill of broom and mop making and basket weaving. The training, conducted on weekdays, allowed him to continue selling lotteries and candles on weekends to support his family. Despite the challenges, Habtamu's determination pushed him to excel in his new craft.

Upon completing the training program, Habtamu was hired as an employee in Salu’s workshop, earning a stable and reliable salary. This marked the beginning of a new chapter in his life. For the next thirteen years he worked producing high-quality products and contributing to the organization's growth.

In a moment of great significance four years ago, Habtamu was promoted to the position of a trainer, utilizing his expertise to teach and empower others with disabilities. Not only did he earn an elevated title and salary, but he also became instrumental in training a community of productive individuals with disabilities. Habtamu's story of perseverance and success became a source of inspiration for those he trained, proving that determination and hard work know no boundaries.

To contribute to Lelt's programs for People With Disabilities, donate here.

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