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Overcoming Cyclical Poverty in Ethiopia

Updated: Aug 7, 2018

Aberash was 5 years old when her mother died. As a girl in a poor family in Southern Ethiopia, this tragedy unfortunately sealed her fate – she was to stay home and take care of her family instead of attending school. She cooked and cleaned at home, and when she was 10, it was time for her to start earning an income. Aberash worked as a maid for other families as well as taking care of her father’s household.

 When she was 18 years old, Aberash traveled north to Addis Ababa to find better work opportunities. She struggled to find a steady job, realizing as an uneducated country girl that work was as difficult to find there as it was in the south. She eventually found employment as a maid. By the time she met her future husband, Wondwosen, she had been working as a housemaid for more than 20 years. They fell in love, and even though he was still searching for sustainable employment, the couple got married. They settled in Kara Kore, a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

Aberash was happy to settle down with Wonde, and the couple had two daughters within their first few years of marriage. Wonde grew increasingly upset that they could not provide a reliable income to care for their children and spent more and more time away from home. Eventually, he left the family and never returned. Aberash was despondent and felt hopeless, worried for the future of her children.

Then two years ago Aberash’s older daughter, Hiwot (right), joined Lelt Foundation’s sponsorship program. Hiwot comes to Lelt’s Community Center every day for a hot meal, and Aberash takes home food rations so now there is always food in the house. Hiwot has school supplies, shoes and clothing, and her school tuition is paid through her sponsorship. Aberash enrolled in Lelt’s Business Creation Program, where she learned business and money management skills, and took a micro-loan to start a shoe sales kiosk at the local market. Aberash said, “Hiwot’s sponsorship is a big relief to me. Because of that, we are all being supported. I’m selling shoes and socks at the market and I’m doing very well. I honestly never expected this to be possible, but I hope to expand and become a cobbler, and make my own shoes.”

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Hiwot, left, with her friend Newal

Lelt’s programs are focused on education, nutritional health and job creation, to empower young women in our region to become self-sufficient and independent. Your support creates opportunities for our community to pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty and turn their circumstances around. We are grateful for your generosity.

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