Monday, December 5, 2011

Mission Ethiopia

Our guest home, Ethiopian Guest Home, has a mission called Mission Ethiopia. At four locations, women gather to handcraft jewelry, handbags and clay ornaments.  They are sold at the guest homes, and the income generated allows 56 widows, single mothers, HIV positive mothers, and lepers to stay off the street and keep their children sheltered.

We visited one of the mission locations, Korah, saw these women hard at work, met a couple of their children and talked with the pastor.  From him we learned this location was near the city dump, where many of the women lived prior to working at the mission.  We were told this is one of the most poverty stricken areas in Ethiopia, and the place where HIV spreads most rampantly.

We saw the effect of these facts on our drive to the site.  People everywhere.  Leading donkeys, hobbling, holding children, holding hands, sleeping, selling wares, begging, laughing.  But everywhere.  People with disability.  People sitting street side surrounded by all they own in burlap bags.  All within the stench of the city dump.

The door led to the room where the women worked.
Son of one of the women.  LOVED having his picture taken.

Land owned by the Mission.

School & church for the children who live at the Mission.

Boys' dorm

Siblings.  Little girl loved to shake our hand and bow to us.

Waving good bye.

The jewelry these women make is beautiful, and it gives women who otherwise would be unemployable sustainable employment and dignity.  It enables them the means to provide shelter for their children at the mission. 56 doesn't sound like a large number when considering the millions of homeless people in Africa.  But, as it was explained to us by their loving pastor, each of those women has a story, a life.    Abandonment, rape, disease, outcasts, and finally hope.  Each woman had a smile that hid a lifetime of heartache and struggle.

We left Korah with both heavy hearts and awe. We then visited the site of fashionABLE, a non-profit agency.  Though not a mission that provides housing, this agency provides sustainable business for women in Africa also.

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