Empowering Widows and Mothers – Ethiopia
Beyond just providing education for children, PATH believes in breaking generational poverty and empowering women to take responsibility for the wellbeing of their children.
Following a Self-Help Group (SHG) model, the mothers/guardians of our Ethiopian children have organize themselves into groups of 20, electing their own leadership and committing to contribute an agreed upon amount of money every week to a group savings box. Over the course of their first year, PATH gives these women three intensive business/economic trainings, but on a weekly basis, the women meet to encourage one another, to build a money-saving mindset, and to discuss what they are learning in the trainings.
Initially, most of the women struggled to understand the point of saving money and meeting together. Coming out of intense desperation and poverty, some lacked hope that any positive change could happen in their lives, and most thought that they had no ability to save any money at all. However, under PATH’s encouragement and support, they committed to each woman contributing 10 birr/week (about 25 cents) to the group savings box. Now, five months later, the women are already beginning to shift in their mindsets and rediscover a previously lost hope.
This week, PATH’s women’s empowerment program director, Hara Bayissa, was overseeing the weekly meeting and reported an incredible conversation. One of the younger mothers, Hana, is interested in starting her own business making and selling injera, a local staple food. She presented her idea to the group, and all the other women immediately began sharing their experiences and giving her encouragement. They told her where she can buy equipment at reasonable prices, how she can initially find and attract customers, and even how she can buy her grains from one of the other mothers of the group, Hindisar, who sells grain at her newly opened road-side shop. As the mothers learn from their experiences, their wisdom is exponentially multiplied and the whole group benefits. Moreover, these women are beginning to create their own internal economy as they all can buy injera from Hana who buys grain from Hindisar who buys vegetables from Tunusia.
We will do the third portion of the training with the women soon. After that, they will be able to present their business plans and receive seed money from PATH to launch their businesses.
Hope and excitement are burning in their hearts, and many are deciding to wait no longer to change the lives of their families.
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