A Woman's Journey: the Ethiopian Family Fund

Y is approximately 35 years old. She was born and raised in Addis Ababa. At the age of about 18, her family arranged a marriage for her. Y said she felt "neither happy or sad about it; that’s just the way things were done." She says her marriage was "difficult," and her husband was unkind. After the birth of two sons, she and her husband separated. But after being apart for some time (during that period she briefly went to Sudan to look for a "better life"--which she never found....), they reconciled. However, when she became pregnant for the third time, he left her again. She began to hear "rumors from friends and neighbors" that he had been unfaithful to her, and was "sick." Y says that "first, I refused to believe the rumors." When she herself began feeling unwell, she went to the clinic and discovered that she was HIV+. Sadly, her oldest son also tested positive for the virus.  Both he and Y are taking ART medication.

She and her children moved back into her parents' home. Since she already knew how to sew, she found work embroidering and sewing for people who would commission her to complete a certain number of items as they received orders. They would then pay Y a very small wage, and sell the finished product to the customer at a high price. Y says she had "little money and little freedom."

Y wanted to join the Ethiopian Family Fund program so that she could learn to stay healthy and to run a business. She sews clothing from newly woven cloth, embroiders bed covers and scarves, and crochets baby items.  She sells many of them to local souvenir shops, and sells the rest privately. She is very busy, and her business is quite profitable.

When we asked Y what she most enjoyed about the training, she said that it had helped her to learn how to "save money and how to run a business." She used to "think that all nutritious food was expensive." But as part of the nutritional training, she learned how to prepare healthy meals for her family with foods available in local markets that are not necessarily expensive, but have high nutritional value.

Y would eventually like to have her own clothing shop. She would also like to design a clothing line. She said that before joining the program she had little money or freedom, and now, she is independent and is her own boss.

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