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Lelt Launches New Vocational Program

Updated: Aug 7, 2018

Safe, reliable employment is nearly impossible to find in our impoverished neighborhood of Karakore, Ethiopia. The majority of jobs are low-paying manual labor or factory work, which leave workers with a multitude of health problems. Chemicals from factories frequently lead to respiratory illnesses for employees, manual labor is back-breaking work, and employers often mistreat the workers by forcing them to labor long hours and carry heavy loads. When employees become disabled from falls or strains, health insurance and workers’ compensation are rarely available to help them. So what is the solution to this brutal cycle of suffering and poverty? The Lelt Foundation works to provide safe, sustainable working conditions for our community.

This month, Lelt Foundation launched our new Vocational Program. It's an expansion of our Business Creation Program, which helps adults who are struggling to find work. In an effort to provide sustainable employment and a reliable salary to more of our community members, we have partnered with two vocational schools in our region. Courses range from auto repair, to hospitality, to secretarial training. Earlier this month, ten Lelt students began classes to become licensed cosmetologists.

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Three of those students, Selam, Eyerus and Elsabeth, spoke to us about their new training. Their children have attended Lelt's tutoring classes and received nutritional support for several years. Selam and Eyerus spent many difficult years working as day laborers, which was demanding physically and left them both with injuries. Elsabeth’s experience was gruesome in a different way; she had been trafficked and forced to work as a prostitute. After a year of living in this misery, she managed to escape and find work on a farm. Now she lives with her mother and children in Karakore, and she is a public advocate for young girls who are forced into the sex trade. She grows vegetables on her plot of land and sells them at the local market, but doesn’t earn enough to support her family. Elsabeth, Selam and Eyerus have been searching for an opportunity to change their circumstances and help their families.

These determined women started training in cosmetology three weeks ago. They attend classes daily and dream of opening a salon together. The Lelt Foundation’s microfinance program makes that dream a possibility. This remarkably successful program empowers members of our community to start their own small businesses with interest-free loans. On average, Lelt's new business owners earn 30% higher wages than before they joined our program. Selam, Eyerus and Elsabeth want to be the next group of successful business owners in Karakore, and are working hard to achieve that goal. With their determination and assistance provided by the Lelt Foundation, they are given the opportunity to find safe, reliable work and a permanent solution to the cyclical poverty their families have endured for generations.

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