International Women's Day

International Women's Day Profile: Meseret Daniel

We have the pleasure of working with so many fabulous women. In honour of International Women’s Day, this month we will feature three incredible Ethiopian women with whom we work. Today we introduce Meseret Daniel.

Talk about a role model.

Meseret Daniel is a successful, ambitious, and determined woman we met during our time in Soddo, Ethiopia. Like most of us, she wears other hats, too: mother, teacher, social worker.

We were first introduced to Meseret at Wolaita Village when we went to visit the WRAPS (washable, reusable, affordable pads) project. Meseret is business manager of the Wolaita Village, and she plays an absolutely invaluable role. We saw her amazing relationship with the women who work at the WRAPS project, and we were in awe of her skills during outreach trips to distribute the pads and teach girls and women about the female reproductive system.

If only you could see her in action. She's funny, engaging, informative, and above all, respectful. It's amazing to see Meseret translate and help share information about WRAPS. It's all about connection, and Meseret seems to be able to connect with women from all different walks of life.

Meseret played an invaluable role in helping us interview women, many of whom had very difficult lives.  She translated for us with sensitivity, compassion and responded to the women with such feeling and love.  Without Meseret and our other wonderful translators, we would not have been able to bring home the stories we heard while in Ethiopia.

One of the biggest changes she's seen in her country over the past number of years is a focus on education, particularly for children, Meseret said.

"The girls are going to school. That is a really big change. Even in the rural area - any girl, she should go to school," she said. It seems to be a view that's becoming more common among parents and community members, even those who may not be formally educated.

Meseret also had stellar advice for young ladies in Ethiopia - or anywhere, really.

"Women, especially, they think themselves down. That is the problem. I say 'don't (put) yourself down," she said. "Negative thinking is inside a lot of ladies. Even sometimes when they are educated, they are scared," she said.

If only we all had Meseret in our lives to spread kindness and encouragement.

"Always, they are thinking 'I can't. I'm not able. I'm not good enough,' she said.

"Don't think you are nothing. You are strong!"

International Women's Day Profile - Mulu Kassaye, Group Home Mother

We have the pleasure of working with so many fabulous women. In honour of International Women’s Day, this month we will feature three incredible Ethiopian women with whom we work. Today we introduce Mulu Kassaye, Group Home mother.

Mulu is one of those kind and thoughtful souls that is always thinking of others. As the Group Home Mom, Mulu oversees four boys in our home in Addis Ababa, and she is such a wonderful role model.

The very first day our team arrived in Ethiopia, Mulu was at the airport to greet us. She had stayed up until the wee hours of the morning preparing a huge, traditional feast for us to eat, and she treated our team to a beautiful Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

Mulu is always making sure that everyone else has something to eat, somewhere to sit, and the tools they need to be successful. She offers to carry your bag and she would give you the shirt off her back.

Even though language can be a bit of a barrier, Mulu’s joy and kindness shine through. When our team visited the group home, we had such a wonderful time learning about Ethiopian cooking and Mulu’s specialties.

Mulu is also very funny! We cracked up when she led our team through the group home and said she would introduce us to “her office” – the kitchen! It’s truly unbelievable the fabulous cooking that comes out of that modest office.

Mulu makes a huge batch of injera several times a week. It keeps for a few days in a beautiful woven basket. It was so interesting to hear about a favourite Ethiopian spice, hot chili powder, which Mulu makes from scratch by drying hot Kariya peppers in the sun and grinding them into a fine, red powder. She told us that Yabi’s favourite lunch for school is a hamburger and fries!

Keep in mind, she’s doing all of this cooking without running water in the kitchen. Mulu has to go outside into the yard to do dishes or wash any ingredients.

But it’s not just cooking that Mulu does in the group home. She handles all of the finances and provides a strong, stable environment for the boys. 

“Mulu believes that her work as the group home mom is a gift from God and she feels privileged to be able to care for the boys in the home.  She doesn't want to miss anything with the boys and provides love, care, compassion, guidance, discipline, spiritual teaching and a family for them,” said founder Shelley Green.

“She is a shining light and example for God and lives her faith and belief in Jesus every day.”

Mulu is such a strong woman and we could not have a better Mama looking after the Group Home. Thank you so much, Mulu, for all of your hard work and the kindness you show to everyone around you.

International Women's Day Profile - Alimitu Tesfaye, Spice Grinder

We have the pleasure of working with so many fabulous women. In honour of International Women’s Day, this month we will feature three incredible Ethiopian women with whom we work. Today we introduce Alimitu Tesfaye, a member of the Spice Grinder project.

It was such a pleasure for our team in Ethiopia to be invited into Alimitu’s home for a snack and a chat. She was so welcoming, and inspiring, too!

Her home is a mud building made up of two main rooms – a sitting area and a bedroom – plus a small room for cooking over a fire. There is also an area that acts as a stable for her livestock to ensure they're not stolen at night. A radio dangled from one doorway; Alimitu said she likes to listen to South Radio, a station whose programming covers the southern part of Ethiopia.

The walls were painted bright blue and yellow. A bible verse had been painted around the room: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Her home was built six years ago. Before that, Alimitu and her husband lived in a thatched roof hut and life was very difficult.

“Even the rain could easily get into the house. So it was difficult,” she said. “But now we are here.”

Alimitu was so proud to invite us into her home and show us around. It was immaculately kept and even the dirt floors were clean. 

These days Alimitu takes care of her three children – 14, 11 and 8 years old – and her in-laws while her husband works selling cattle out of town. In addition to the daily work of running a household, she sells corn and other grains at the market, and she fetches water from a well in the town of Boditi, about an hour walk from her home.

“Every three days we will fill four or five cans. We take a donkey to help carry the water,” Alimitu, 35, told us.

She’s a part of Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia’s Spice Grinder project, and it’s clear that Alimitu is a very dedicated and committed member of the group.

She told us that all the money made at the spice grinder flows directly into an account for the group. All the women agreed that they wouldn’t make individual withdrawals until they’ve been able to expand the project and grow their profits.

“We save all the money as a contingency and also for maintenance, but there is no personal benefit,” she said. “Once we get more income, we can start to have personal profit.”

Alimitu went to school up until Grade 7. Now, all of her children are in school. It’s her dream that they will complete their education.

“My wish is for my children to graduate and to support themselves,” she said.

Alimitu – we salute you for your hard work, your positive attitude, and your kind and generous spirit. Thank you for inviting us in to your home and sharing a piece of your life with us.