Updated: Aug 25, 2018
In the village in southern Ethiopia where Rehema was born, life was difficult. When she was still a little girl, both her parents passed away, and she was raised by older siblings who showed her no real affection. She grew up a lonely child and looked forward to starting her own family as she became a young woman.
When Rehema was 23, she married Dinsefa. They had seven children in ten years, but only the youngest two survived. The village had neither clean water nor medical facilities, and disease was an every-day risk. Life got even more difficult when she turned 33 – Rehema contracted malaria which left her bedridden, too ill to care for her two children. Her husband, unwilling to help, divorced her and abandoned the family.
Weak and alone, Rehema moved to Addis Ababa to live with her sister and receive medical treatment. As she began to recover, she took work as a domestic servant but could not earn enough to support her family. Desperate, she arranged for her teen-aged daughter to go to Dubai for work as a maid. Shortly thereafter, her young son and his girlfriend announced they were having a baby. They were very young and left their baby girl, Newal, with Rehema, while they moved away to find work. They never returned.
Still recovering from illness and unable to support her granddaughter, Rehema was distraught. She wanted to improve her circumstances but needed assistance, so she applied for Lelt's assistance. Four years ago, Newal became sponsored through Lelt Foundation’s Child Sponsorship Program. She now comes to Lelt’s Community Center every day for lunch and after-school tutoring. She has excelled in school and will start fourth grade at Kalihiwot School – a private school known for its students’ outstanding success rate. Ninety percent of Kalihiwot graduates go on to college, which will empower Newal to be the first of her family to have an education beyond elementary school.
Combined with additional benefits from Lelt, like food and home essentials for the household, Rehema has hope for a brighter future for her granddaughter.