How library & computer access can change everything


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 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.

Meet Lisa, our new Director of Development & Communications!

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WEEMA is thrilled to welcome Lisa to the team as our Director of Development and Communications! Lisa brings a wealth of experience and a passion for international development and we asked her to share some of her background and interests; get to know her by reading her response below!

"My journey in the world of international development started with a group of incredibly inspiring women who were asked to start a middle school in Rwanda, the Maranyundo Girls School.  Today it is a thriving and fully-enrolled middle and high school whose students consistently receive top scores in national exams.

The next step on my journey was Oxfam - an incredible organization working in over 90 countries to tackle the root causes of poverty. It was an honor to work with a brilliant and committed group of people - and a privilege to be able to make a difference in people’s lives. With WEEMA, my focus will turn to communities and people in Ethiopia and expanding WEEMA’s financial resources to deepen the impact of our programs.

My favorite thing about working in international development is that it is an extraordinary learning experience.  Through my work I have the opportunity to learn about other parts of the world, governments, different cultures, and the challenges as well as the hopes and dreams and joys of people who live in those places.

During initial conversations with the WEEMA team I was struck by each person’s commitment and passion for the organization. I love making connections and building relationships and am looking forward to introducing WEEMA’s work to new people, and increasing financial resources to support WEEMA’s mission.  There is nothing more rewarding than being able to support great ideas and witness positive change."

To learn more about Lisa, check out her feature on our Instagram and Facebook!

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: WEEMA's 2019 Staff Retreat

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WEEMA's Field Office staff, Addis Office staff, and U.S. Office staff gathered in Ziway, Ethiopia for the 2019 Annual Staff Retreat. The weekend was full of presentations, team building activities and plenty of coffee! 

This retreat was a great opportunity to share insights and data from the full range of WEEMA's programs with all of our staff! Presentations were followed by robust discussion and experience-sharing.


The highlight of WEEMA team bonding was the annual soccer match which was an intense face-off between the U.S./Addis Office team and Mudula Field Office team. Although the U.S./Addis team walked away with the victory after a final score of 4-2, the Field Office team fought a valiant fight!

To watch video from the match and see more photos from the retreat, follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

Bringing WEEMA's Stories Into Focus

Mary Olive filming at one of WEEMA’S Beekeeping Cooperative programs.

Mary Olive filming at one of WEEMA’S Beekeeping Cooperative programs.

As we announced earlier this summer, we've engaged Emmy award-winning director, producer, and cinematographer, Mary Olive Smith, to create a series of videos about WEEMA's programs and their impact within communities.

In October, Mary Olive traveled with the WEEMA team to Kembata-Tembaro to film stories highlighting some of WEEMA’s core values: inclusion of women and marginalized individuals, holistic development, and sustainable programs in partnership with local government.

We're looking forward to sharing these videos with you soon, but in the meantime, we've asked Mary Olive to share some of her reflections on her trip: 

"This trip was my 13th time filming in Africa, but in all my travels I’ve never witnessed such an impactful program, lifting up an entire community on so many levels. What stood out to me most is how WEEMA gives people the resources they need to find their own solutions to the challenges of poverty."

Mary Olive filming WEEMA's mHealth project

Mary Olive filming WEEMA's mHealth project

“Part of the excitement of making documentaries is not knowing exactly what to expect, but my trip to film WEEMA’s work was incredibly satisfying. Our plans to capture the experiences and voices of people in ten different WEEMA initiatives seemed ambitious. But from our first day of filming to our last, every person we interviewed and every scene we captured told the story of how people’s lives were improving -- not by what they were receiving but instead through the active role they were playing to bring about change.

My favorite shoot took place with the Masino women’s self-help group. After filming the dancing and group meeting, we followed the women to the hillsides and watched as they worked together weeding their crops. They were self-empowered, proud and hopeful. The cool air and lush and verdant landscapes added to the sense of hope I felt. I could envision returning in 30 years and smiling at the transformation I would see."