Tewabechi’s husband abandoned her 10 years ago, shortly after she had given birth to their third child. Left destitute with no means of supporting herself and her young children, Tewabechi’s prospects were bleak. In Dugda, where she lives in Ethiopia, most people are extremely poor. There were few opportunities by which she could support her family. She had to endure the social stigma of being an abandoned wife and single mother.
A strong woman
But Tewabechi proved to be made of stern stuff. With the help of TREE AID, she has created a future for her children they would not previously have dreamed of.
A small and modest woman, sitting in her basic two-roomed house and surrounded by her children, she tells her story. She joined a savings and loans group and took a small loan of 300 ETB (about £10). She was then able to start petty trading and built up a small income. Tewabechi took out 2 more subsequent loans.
Single-handedly, Tewabechi has paid for her daughters to attend the nearest school. It is 15 km away (transport or a room to stay overnight cost her about £3 for each child per month). She is now funding her eldest daughter Iyantu to study law. Her second daughter Zamanih plans to study medicine. Iyantu says her ambition is to be a judge, Zamanih to be a doctor. She has also built them a two-room house instead of the hut they used to live in.
Tewabechi is glad that she has given her daughters opportunities that she never had. Despite having worked so hard, she says she does not expect to be cared for by them in return. She just wants them to be able to take care of themselves.
If we work, we can win
Tewabechi’s story shows how much impact support from TREE AID donors can have. Here in the UK, it can be hard to imagine how such a small amount of money can make such a difference. Here a few pounds will only pay for a coffee whereas in Ethiopia it can help educate a child. Tewabechi also shows how hard women like her work to help lift themselves and their families out of poverty, with just a little support. Another hardworking mum in the local village told us “We used to think it was bad luck to be a woman. Now we realise that, if we work, we can win.”
Throughout the drylands of Africa, TREE AID supporters are transforming lives for families like this. As well as receiving training and practical help, local people are also encouraged to know that people they will never meet are giving them a helping hand. And of course, if Iyantu becomes a judge and Zamanih a doctor, they will help others, as well as supporting their own families.