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.

How library & computer access can change everything

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The Degale Public LIbrary and Computer Center has made a world of difference for Betelihem who ranked second in her 9th grade class last year at the Mudula Secondary and Preparatory School. 
 
Moving up to the top of her class is a huge improvement from the previous year when she described herself as a very average student who didn’t score well at all on the tests.
 
The difference? Taking advantage of the resources of the Degale Public LIbrary and Computer Center.  She learned about the library from classmates and started to visit frequently to study, take advantage of the reference materials, and to use the computer center to access recent materials from the internet. 

Betelihem is one of ten children whose mother is a merchant and father is a government worker. Her dream is to be a medical doctor. The way to make that a reality is scoring well on national exams and that’s exactly what Betelihem plans to do.
 
Visit weema.org/education to learn more about WEEMA’s work in Southwestern Ethiopia.

Raising Menstrual Health and Hygiene Awareness

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For the Saruma Primary and Middle School, March brought more activity thanks to WEEMA’s Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management project. As you read in our last blog post about this project, providing girls with reusable pads keeps girls in school and raises menstrual health and hygiene awareness in the whole community.

This month, midwives who completed their education at Hamlin College of Midwives thanks to WEEMA sponsorship provided additional training on menstrual health and hygiene and sexual reproductive health to 405 students in the school. The training sessions were held for three days between morning and afternoon class sessions so students could attend without interrupting their regular class schedules. The students all welcomed the training and agree that it is important to learn more. They asked WEEMA to continue delivering training and suggested helping other schools as well. We are delighted to tell you that we have taken their advice and are planning to expand to other schools in the next academic year!

A week earlier, WEEMA supported an International Women’s Day Celebration – “Balance for Better” – focused on building a gender-balanced world. Girls and boys performed skits, poems, and songs for the students, teachers, community leaders, PTA members, and district government representatives who attended. Their performances advocated for girls and women as agents of change in the community and addressed topics such as violence against girls/women, the rights of girls/women, and the importance of girls and women’s participation in all community activities.