Annual Yard Sale raises funds for WEEMA

Left to right: Board member Denise Faneuff, Executive Director Liz McGovern, and Board member Gina DaCruz soak up the sunshine at the 7th annual WEEMA Yard Sale

Left to right: Board member Denise Faneuff, Executive Director Liz McGovern, and Board member Gina DaCruz soak up the sunshine at the 7th annual WEEMA Yard Sale

Are you looking for a fun and family-friendly way to support WEEMA? There are many creative fundraisers that engage your community and WEEMA Board members Gina DaCruz and Denise Faneuff have done just that!

Each year Gina and Denise host a yard sale with all proceeds benefiting WEEMA. The whole family gets involved; their husbands help with set up and clean up and their children host a snack and drink table. This year they also sold their artwork!

The WEEMA Yard Sale is now a neighborhood tradition and many people return every year, knowing that the money they spend on treasures supports children, women, and families in Ethiopia. This is the seventh year of the yard sale, and they raised over $1,000 this year to support WEEMA.

We are very grateful to Gina, Denise, their families, and to their friends who gather to make this event such a success each year.

If you are interested in creating your own fundraiser to support WEEMA, click below. We are happy to help make your fundraising dream a reality.


WEEMA-supported Disability Union receives certificate

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A certificate can make all the difference.

In Ethiopia, people living with disabilities encounter many disadvantages in society and are often subject to stigma and discrimination. They are disproportionately poorer, and particularly vulnerable to crises.  They remain largely excluded from political and civil processes and are voiceless on crucial issues that affect them and their society. People with disabilities are mostly considered burdens, live in poverty, and lack access to basic services such as education, health care, vocational training, and employment.

In 2016 WEEMA started a project in the Tembaro District to empower people with disabilities and build positive attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs to bring long lasting change in the community. WEEMA provided training to help community members with disabilities form associations that are open for membership to people with disability from anywhere in the district. The associations have now joined efforts to form a union at the district level.  

Great news - the Disability Union that WEEMA supports has secured its legal registration certificate.  What does that mean? Many people in the US hear the word certificate and think of it as something we receive upon completion of a seminar or a course.  Or one of our children receives a certificate for being a member of the youth softball team - something that all team members receive. Receiving the certificate is rewarding, but it is not much more than that.

In the Ethiopian context, receiving a certificate for the union is so much more important. It is like a birth certificate for a person - it is possible to exist and function without the document, but obtaining certification opens many more doors. With legal status, the union members have more recognition,  access to the government resources, and more lobbying power. The members of the associations have the ability to operate a businesses and hold bank accounts as an entity instead of informally. And, there is less risk if they take legal action if they are taken advantage of or wronged.

This year WEEMA’s work with the union and four associations in the Tembaro District includes continued capacity building trainings; diversification of income generating activities, the purchase of wheelchairs and walking aids, and start-up capital for selected associations who are forming their own businesses.

For more information about WEEMA’s work focused on people with disabilities, or you can support our work here.

The Ambassador's Visit

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Last week Girma Birru Geda, the former Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S., visited the WEEMA office in Addis Ababa.  While this was the Ambassador’s first visit to the Ethiopia office, WEEMA leadership has had the opportunity to meet with him two times in Washington, D.C.  WEEMA Country Director Tewodros (Teddy) Belachew and the staff shared a coffee ceremony with the visitors and presented the Ambassador with an update on our work including current strategy and future plans.

Initiatives discussed included:

  • Expanding access to clean water and sanitation facilities

  • Improving access to quality education

  • Establishing a comprehensive public library network

  • Strengthening women’s self-help groups

  • Building beekeeping capacity and cooperatives

  • Empowering people with disabilities

  • Developing and implementing digital health

  • Strengthening reproductive maternal newborn and child health

  • Treating curable blindness

The Ambassador had a number of comments and questions and asked the WEEMA team to continue to focus on women and girls as change agents, urging them not to let go of this goal and to make everything we do women-centered.

He was curious to know which WEEMA projects the community is most interested in - is it water? health? economic empowerment?  It was rewarding to be able to clarify that the focus of WEEMA’s work is driven by the community’s interests which means that all of WEEMA’s work is valued by the community.

The Ambassador left with very positive feelings about the visit, plans to continue to support WEEMA’s work, and offered to connect our team with new government officials for potential partnerships.

It was a great honor to host the Ambassador.

To learn more about these initiatives, click here. Or to support WEEMA’s work, click on the donate button below.

Better beekeeping changes lives! 

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Yeshiwas Desta is a farmer and the proud father of six children. His land is rocky and rugged and doesn’t produce enough to provide food for his family. Yeshi worked hard to change the fertility of the land by terracing, planting forage grass, and diversifying his crops by adding banana, mango, avocado, coffee, soybean, and ginger. In spite of this good work, his income was not meeting his financial needs.
To provide some additional income Yeshi also harvested honey from his hives - three traditional and two modern beehives - and earned ETB 300-500 per month or $10 - $17 USD. In 2017 Yeshi joined the Belela Kololo Cooperative - a WEEMA supported cooperative - where he learned how to build different types of beehives with local materials and benefitted from the experience of the other beekeepers and trainers.
Today the lion's share of Yeshi’s monthly income comes from beekeeping. He now has 15 transitional hives, 2 modern hives, and 18 traditional hives and his monthly income has quadrupled!
Yeshi now earns income sufficient to meet the needs of his family, including the materials for all of his children to attend school. And, he has a vision for the future. His long term goals include buying cattle and oxen, constructing a shelter for those animals, building additional modern beehives, and ensuring and even improving his livelihood.

To learn more about other work WEEMA does in the area of economic empowerment work, please click here. To support WEEMA’s beekeeping work please click on the Donate button above.

WEEMA’s Self Help Group team takes on a new leadership role

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In 2014 WEEMA started its first Self Help Groups (SHG). We were fortunate enough to benefit from the experience of other organizations who had already established SHGs in neighboring communities and in other parts of Ethiopia. Today we have 112 SHGs in two districts – and 2,033 women participating. 
This week the WEEMA team is playing a new leadership role and is hosting a team affiliated with the Maji Development Coalition in the Bench Maji Zone for three days of learning. Together they will visit some of WEEMA’s Self Help Groups to hear stories of successes and challenges, talk about lessons learned, and share action plans and documents to help the Bench Maji team get off on solid footing and start them off on a path to success.
The WEEMA team is proud to be able to share their expertise to help launch new Self Help Groups and support women's empowerment.
To learn a bit more about Self Help Groups visit our Women’s Economic Empowerment Groups.