So many women and children are still suffering in silence, unaware that there are charities willing to help them such as Meseret for Women (MfW). These women are scared. They have come from backgrounds of deprivation, poverty, abuse, parental/spousal death and other tragic circumstances. The ladder of life is very difficult for them to climb back onto. For them, it feels relentless and hopeless and not aided by the negative stigma attached to them by society. Women in Ethiopia have suffered inequality for decades. Many of them cannot read or write and have not been to school. They have known only to stay at home and to help their families.
Along with no education or support, many of these women lean heavily on their faith, believing their fate and destiny is chosen by God. So often they believe there is no other path chosen for them, they are scared and fear change. This is why it is so important we continue to keep fighting for them. By doing so, we are helping them to find their own strength and voice which will empower them to pursue their own destiny and choices through life, not one which they believe was given to them.
MfW aims to help these women and their children, but in addition to just helping one women, the goal is for each women we help to spread the word to others in similarly difficult circumstances. Indeed, we aim for the women to become ambassadors and positive role models to their own communities, and with your support we can continue to help others understand that there is another path. During their stay at MfW, women also experience a range of training sessions to help them with life skills, and are able to participate in a cooperative scheme that helps them save and borrow to start a business.
However, rather than hear it from us we want you to hear comments from some who have benefitted from the MfW. We asked questions to four of the women who went through the programme, and here are their responses.
Circumstances before Meseret for Women:
Question: Why did you come to the house? What was your situation at the time?
Answer: Because I didn’t have any income sources to cover my living expenses
Q: What would you have done if Meseret house did not exist?
A: I would have been on the street without any shelter, food and or other facility to support mine and my child’s life. I would have stayed on the street suffering with a different life, and I would have been raped and had more children.
Experience in the house:
Q: What was the most useful aspect of the training during your stay in the house?
A: I gained important life skills that help me believe in myself and generate income.
Q: What was the most useful aspect of the childcare in the house?
A: I am free to work my job while my child is staying at the Meseret house childcare unit and I don’t worry because I know she is well taken care of.
Q: What did you like or dislike about sharing the space with other women?
Like: We develop friendships that help us to share information and each other we learn to live with others
Dislike: There was fighting between our children due to limited space that we end up fighting with each other. There was no privacy.
Q: When you look back what do you feel is the greatest benefit of Meseret to you?
A: The greatest benefit was.
- My attachment and love for my children increased
- clean bed
- good nutritious food
- Medical assistances
- the freedom to work and exercise our religion
Q: What was the greatest benefit of Meseret to the child?
A: My child got proper nutrition, health care, clothing…
Q: What do you think of the location of Meseret house?
A: It has good access to the road and is a well known location and free from any noise
Q: What do you feel Meseret could do better?
A: It would have been better if it had larger compound and rooms so that children can play freely and more beneficiaries could benefit.
Q: Would you recommend Meseret to others?
Q: If there was one thing you could change about Meseret house what would it be? (e.g. could offer different training?)
A: In addition to the life skill training practical training e.g. hair salon, cooking, waitressing, and these kinds of skills.
On leaving the house
Q: Where do you live now? Who do you live with?
A: I am living in a cheap rented room with my child/children
Q: What are you doing now? Have you got a job?
A: I am doing cleaning work at private house, and going around washing clothes for different people
Q: Is your situation better than before Meseret house? (e.g. have you got a better job?, have you got a higher income?)
A: Yes, currently I am getting small income that can support my living.
Q: How is your child doing now? How has Meseret helped your child?
A: My child is strong physically and active mentally
Q: How have you used the skills you learnt in the house? How have they been useful?
A: The life skill training helped me to think about different income sources and to try another if what I started doesn’t work, It tought me not to give up
Q: Are you in touch with the women you met at Meseret house? If so, why?
A: Yes, the employees are regularly monitoring our situation and the women I meet every month for the cooperative meeting
On spreading the word
Q: Who have you spoken to about Meseret houses? Are you recommending Meseret to others?
A: Yes, since it is providing good community service I tell about it to the women I meet who have life difficulties as I did
Q: What particular aspects of Meseret house have you shared with others? (e.g. training childcare). Why have you done that?
A: I’ve told women who are in trouble like was.
Q: Do you think there should be more places like Meseret house in Addis? If so, why?
A: Yes, to increase access for other women in other woredas (districts) and sub-cities who have difficult lives.