Message from Weinab Seyfu, Co-founder, Meseret for Women
Banning of intercountry adoption in Ethiopia, and the start of Meseret for Women
Since intercountry adoption was banned in Ethiopia, I thought the best way to help was to take care of mothers. But I could not do this alone.
During a visit from Tom and Rachel Duke, a family I helped with adopting a baby girl, they asked me what I was planning to do. I told them I had a dream of helping mothers who, otherwise, would be forced to abandon their children because of poverty. They said if I managed to get a license, they would be happy to sponsor the project.
We got a license from the Ethiopian Government for an NGO on 9 May 2017 named “Meseret for Women” for a project entitled “Holistic Urban Street Women Rehabilitation and Dropping Center”.
What Meseret for Women does
The Government chooses eight women and gives them to us every six months. The Meseret House allows these women and children time not only to recover but time to bond with their children.
We also give them life skill training, business skill training, entrepreneurship business training. After some time, they are encouraged to find work whilst still living at the House. This keeps them connected to the world outside, which is very important.
After their 6 months stay we provide them with some seed money. With this money they are obliged to rent a room for two months and pay for it themselves. We have also established a saving and credit cooperative and we buy a share for them in this cooperative. We have helped the women start saving with the cooperative which then allows them to borrow, at low-interest rates, when in need or for start-up loans for their own small business.
Day-care for working mothers
We worked on this project for three years but what we saw was that even though these women started to work, rent a room and start a life, those women with children that were younger than 4 years old had a lot of problems. Most people would not hire them if they had to take their children to work with them. So, when we renewed our license, we started a day-care for children younger than 4 years old. (From 4 years old, Ethiopian law states children must be in school.) The day-care has been running for one year and has capacity to take care of 15 children.
We need your help
We have witnessed a lot of good changes in the life of the mothers and in the health and growth of the children. Our founders Tom and Rachel Duke, have been financing Meseret for Women. Three years ago Tom passed away leaving Rachel with seven children and this charity. She has done a great thing for us for the past four years but now because of the coronavirus pandemic it has been very hard for her to do fundraising and our costs are rising. We are, therefore, running very low on money.
To those of you with experience of seeing first-hand what it means for a child to be abandoned in Ethiopia, I ask you to help us keep this charity going because I believe you will understand more than anyone how important it is to support mothers to keep their children.
Please visit our website to see ways to support us: https://meseretforwomen.org/.
I hope that you can help us – and perhaps also spread the word to others who might also be able to support us.
I wish you and your family the best. Thank you.
Weinab Seyfu (Addis Ababa, Nov 2021)