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Rising Above Adversity: The Journey of Haimanot Habtamu

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Addis Ababa, September 25, 2023 - In the Karakore region in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the story of Haimanot Habtamu is a testament to resilience, determination, and the transformative power of community support. Born and raised in a humble household, Haimanot's early years were marked by the challenges of poverty that gripped her family's lives.

Living with her parents and three siblings, Haimanot's family faced a daily struggle to make ends meet. Her mother, Yanensh, stayed home to take care of the children, while her father, Habtamu, toiled as a daily laborer. The weight of poverty hung over their home, making it difficult to afford food, healthcare, and school registration fees and supplies.

However, a turning point came in 2012 when 8-year old Haimanot joined Lelt’s programs. Lelt Foundation provided essential support such as food rations, hygienic materials, tutoring classes, school fees, and employment creation opportunities for her parents.

Yanensh and Habtamu seized the opportunity by receiving a business creation micro-loan from Lelt Foundation. Yanesh started a bakery, selling injera, an Ethiopian flatbread, while Habtamu started weaving traditional handmade textiles – a skill that was handed down for generations in his family.

With Lelt's support, Haimanot was able to pursue her education with a full scholarship and tutoring assistance. However, despite her dedication, she faced a setback when she did not pass the national 8th grade exam. Students who fail this exam are not allowed to continue on to high school. Distraught, yet determined, Haimanot sought guidance from Lelt’s counselors and enrolled in a vocational and technical training school in Kara Kore, where she honed her skills in hairdressing and styling.

Her determination paid off, and she graduated as a certified cosmetologist. Today, she works as a hairstylist at a women's hair salon in Addis Ababa, confident that her self-discipline and training will open up new horizons for her. She aspires to expand her expertise by training in other beautician techniques like makeup application, manicures, and pedicures.

Despite this major accomplishment, Haimanot’s family faced profound upheaval earlier this year. Their family home was demolished by the government because it was built in an unzoned region, leaving everyone in that neighborhood, including Haimanot’s family, scattered and in turmoil. Her father had no choice but to relocate to the southern part of the country, unable to continue as the family's primary provider. Yanesh and her daughters have moved in with their grandmother in a small rented room in a distant neighborhood in Addis Ababa.

Haimanot and her mother, Yanesh

Haimanot's goal is to support her relatives now that she is working, but the recent upheaval has made it nearly impossible for them to stabilize. Nonetheless, she remains resolute and determined. When asked to give advice to other children in her circumstance, she said, "prioritize your academic achievement from an early age, pay attention in class, and face your challenges fearlessly”.

Haimanot's journey from cyclical poverty to self-sufficiency is a story of hope and perseverance. It is a testament to the impact of the support provided by Lelt’s donors, and the indomitable spirit to overcome adversity, no matter the obstacles that lie in your path.

Haimanot (right), with another Lelt scholar, Feben

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