After several tragic and traumatic experiences, Birhane tells us that she had lost hope, holding on only for her children - then she joined our program. Read about how Birhane is turning her life around.
Content warning: this story contains mentions of rape and suicide. Please stop reading here if you are likely to find these triggering.
My true name is not Birhane, but I wish to change it to tell you my story.
I am 35 years old in Ethiopia. I am widowed because my husband died unexpectedly. I have one boy and one daughter. Before I found this program that helped me I was a daily laborer, but after I lost my husband, my health became complicated and I could not do my work as usual.
Then, I could not provide food for my children or afford the house rent. I struggled too much and finally I became bedridden. With my children, we started depending on neighbors for food, for drink and other basic needs. My children were also forced to drop out of their formal education.
We became homeless and in our time on the streets, all of us were abused physically and mentally. One day, a stranger raped me in the middle of the night. At that time, I couldn’t tolerate life and what was happening with me and my children. I felt hopelessness and wanted to try suicide repeatedly. But I suffered on because I had to carry my children into their future life and so I felt selfish. I thought about handing over my children to the government authorities.
But then I went to the local Women and Children's Affairs Office, and they referred me to Agar Ethiopia Charitable Society.
Agar Ethiopia provided me with psychosocial support, including medical care, counseling, therapies, meal services and other support. Instantly, my health situation became better and after time I was feeling better. My children and I are growing again and now they look healthy.
After three months of staying in the safe house, I was mentally ready to reintegrate into normal life and start training. I chose to attend basic business skill training.
I developed a business plan with the help of the trainers and now I am certified.
I also improved my communication skills, negotiation, customer handling skills and planning. The training showed me how to save credit and do bookkeeping with simple financial management. They taught me life skills and after completing all of the training and rehabilitation processes, I received seed funding to start petty trading based on my business plan. Now, I have opened a mini shop.
Now, I am able to lead an independent life.
I am working in my mini shop, and I have a vision to open a supermarket within four years. My children have also enrolled in school again - they are Grade 4 and Grade 12 students.
*Header Photo Credit: Gift Habeshaw
Disclaimer: Birhane's real name and photo have not been used in this blog post to protect her identity and ensure her safety.