A terrible childbirth injury, and a stillborn delivery. Ababa was in pain and terrified. She was only 15 years old. When labor began, Ababa spent two days in excruciating pain at home. There was no progress, and she was taken to the local health centre. It was too late: she gave birth to a stillborn child. Traumatized, exhausted and injured, she then discovered she was incontinent. Ababa leaked urine, day and night. The smell was unpleasant.
“I wanted to become a midwife because of the need in my community. Where I am from, it is common for women to give birth alone in a forest. To deal with the pain, they use a kneeling down position and hold a stick to keep their balance. The suffering they go through is unimaginable. I remember about women dying alone in the forest due to heavy bleeding. Some lost their newborn. Seeing that made me aspire to become a health professional who will help women during delivery.”
“Now other women will see my skills, and begin to think differently about what they can do in life.” - Lelabo
Makeda was 20 years old when she became pregnant with her first child. Unfortunately, her childbirth suffered complications. Makeda walked for three hours to her nearest health centre, only to learn that they could not help her. After a prolonged labour, Makeda was left devastated when her baby daughter was born stillborn.
Hindya Yusuf is a 22-year-old business woman. As a person living with a physical disability in the hilly region of Harar, her circumstances left her with few options for work and limited resources to support herself. In 2016, Cheshire Services, with Ethiopiaid’s support, began providing Hindya with small business loans and business skills training. After she developed a business plan, she invested her loan in the purchase of materials and supplies to begin a baked goods business. Hindya already possessed the ambition to become a successful business woman – all she needed was little help getting it off the ground.
“My name is Fikre Ayano. I am 27 years old. I grew up in the countryside near Gondar, in the north of Ethiopia. My parents are farmers. They could not afford to send me to school, so I came to Addis Ababa to live with my aunt 7 years ago to find a job. There are more opportunities for work and education in the capital city, but I really didn’t know what to expect! When I was laid off from my parking job last year, the struggle was even harder. I found other work as a daily laborer. Really hard and the pay is not great. I earned $50 a month and my rent is $35!
Helen has lived with a debilitating disability since her youth, which made it difficult for her to walk. For years, she was unable to earn a stable income as she faced discrimination from potential employers due to her disability. On top of being disabled, Helen was also poor. She never had the chance to attend school and therefore couldn’t read or do basic math. Unable to do manual labor and with little skills for other work, everyday of Helen’s life was a struggle to survive. She had two daughters whose lives also hung in the grips of poverty.
At the age of four, Tenagne lost the use of both legs in an accident. Her parents were poor and could not afford the rehabilitation care she needed. She never fully recovered the use of her limbs. Then, when she was just a teenager, her parents passed away tragically. She dropped out of school to take care of her younger sister.
Ayantu Belay is 22 years old, and has spent four years studying at Hope College. She had hoped to study architecture when she arrived in 2012, but the department was not up and running at that point so she chose IT instead. She will graduate in July 2016, with the rest of her friends. She likes the supportive staff on the course, and the opportunity to learn coding, which she has discovered she is very good at.
Ekram Beyene is 19 years old. She grew up with her two sisters in a shanty town in Addis Abeba, the capital. Her father passed away when she was 16, and she had to quit school as her mum could not afford to have her continue. Her elder sisters had odd jobs and Ekram helped her mother with house chores, but life was hard. Having stopped school and with no work experience, she began idling and had bad company, which worried hers sisters and mother. Ekram had no idea about what she could do in life. She was at a dead-end.