The Power of Women

The last two days have been an incredible lesson in faith, thanking God for blessings and the impact of Canadian resources.
We visited Mission Ethiopia to meet the women who make the necklaces we sell, see where they work and to learn more about their lives.   The women were very welcoming and so thankful for our orders of necklaces.  Mothers With a Heart for Ethiopia is the largest customer of Mission Ethiopia who now employ 86 (mostly women).  We have also donated money for the purchase of three looms and two industrial sewing machines along with many other supplies.
We sat with the women as they worked and learned more about their lives.  One of the women I spoke with said her husband had died a few years ago leaving her as a single mom with two children.  Until the work at Mission Ethiopia, she was unemployed and did not have a steady means to support herself and her children.  She said her life has changed a lot since being hired at Mission Ethiopia and she was very thankful for the work. 
Another young woman was living in Korah with her husband and was pregnant with her first child when her husband died.  When the baby was born, she had no means to support them and was forced to go to the streets to beg for money and for food.  Before she started to work for Mission Ethiopia, she rented her baby out to a begger who would use her baby as a prop to garnish more money.  She was desperate, she had nothing but her baby and God and she needed to feed them.  How can we as Canadians begin to imagine or understand the reality this woman faced, the desperation of her situation and the sheer determination to survive?  As an employee of Mission Ethiopia, she is now able to support herself and her child without begging.
I asked how we could pray for the ladies and one of the things they said was that they wanted their friends to be hired so they could also support themselves and their families.
We  met a woman outside of the Korah Mission Ethiopia location who asked two of our volunteers if we would give her money because her husband died, she had two children and a third coming soon.  She had no way to support her children and herself and although she was staying with a friend, the friend told her that she would need to find another place to live.
The joy the women express as a result of their jobs and the praise they have for God is humbling.  They are so thankful to God for their jobs, for our support, for their food and for their shelters.  Everything they have, although very, very little, they thank God.
Korah, the community MIssion Ethiopia is based in and supports, was formed just outside of the Alert Leprosy Hospital and the city dump.   People receiving treatment need to come to the hospital over a long period of time.  Korah was created by individuals with leprosy who came for treatment to the hospital. Today, Korah is the home to some 160,000 people who have leprosy, HIV, disabilities and the very poor.  It is one of the poorest communities within the capital city and is basically forgotten by the government.
Three years ago, Mission Ethiopia in Korah had 10 employees, today, they have 50.  Mission Ethiopia partner with local churches who identify women at greatest need and who attend their church.  Mission Ethiopia has two other sites and a total of 86 employees.
We gave each of the women a gift and we have made a large donation of supplies for the Reward Based Store.
On Wednesday, my mom and I went to Wolaita to make a very large announcement to the women in the two women empowerment groups we visited the previous week.  When we arrived, the women were standing, dancing, singing and waving a couple of bouquet of flowers for us.
These women impressed us so much the previous week with their detailed plans, perserverance, determination, patience and capabilities we decided to inject additional money needed so they can take their plan to the next level.  We are making a $10,000 donation to pay for a spice grinder and a building for the grinder.
After I had spoken for a while, I told them that I was there for two reasons:   to see them again and to let them know how impressed we were with their group and the second reason was to give them the money they need to purchase the spice grinder and the building for the grinder. 
The women immediately looked to the heavens or bowed their hands and praised God.  Not one moment of hesitation elapsed before the women gave God the glory and the credit.
The women were saying over and over that it was a miracle from God (the donation).  They started to sing again and to dance and I could actually feel the ground below my feet moving with the steps of the dancing.
I am confident that these ladies will be able to share their model and their success to other women in Ethiopia  I am very excited to hear of their developments and to also see the ripple effects of the spice grinder.  More money will be made by the ladies as individuals and as a group, more money will be available for micro financing loans and at the next step of their plan of opening a small village store will come to be a reality.
These women both at Mission Ethiopia and the school are brave, they are loving, they love God,  they are determined and their have capabilities.and they want a better life for their children. 
Empowering women in Ethiopia is going to change villages in a sustainable way.  Women will be able to support themselves, their children and their families.  Women will influence the quality of life of those around them in their village.  Women will help to inspire other work by others who see the success they have had in working together.
We all  have an opportunity to make a difference here in Ethiopia.  Ethiopia has great potential and many of the people have hope for a brighter future.
I will write  more once we are home.  There is so much more to write about and to share with you.
Thank you for following our blog, for praying for us while we have been gone and for caring about the women and children in Ethiopia.