Alula’s husband took all her money and left her alone with two small children to raise. She lives in the city of Me’Kele in the region of Tigray. She speaks to us through an interpreter in her native Tigrinya. "I was depressed with no hope. I went to the government for help and they sent me to the Daughters of Charity."
The Daughters of Charity are a religious order of nuns who have been in Tigray since the great famine in 1973. They work with the CST, a partner of Development and Peace, to improve livelihoods of women in the Tigray region. With our help, a livelihood training centre was built next to the coordinating office. At the coordinating office they run every type of social program you can imagine, from feeding children to a community library. Our work as D&P with them is focused on women like Alula.
The nuns gave her access to a loan of 8000ETB (493CAD) which she would pay back at only 2% interest. They also made arrangements for her to set up a small cafeteria for the staff at a local boarding school. Together this support is known an IGA (Income Generating Activity). She rents the space at the school for 200ETB (12CAD) per month. We are visiting her there as she closes for the day. She used the original loan allowed her to get set-up and going, including renting a Coffee Machine that she rented for 400ETB a month. The coffee she prepares for us though is done according to the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Another young woman with a black headscarf is there serving us as she speaks. "I am the only cafeteria here. I have no competition so I have to ensure that I do not overcharge my customers and that my prices are fair."
Alula works hard. She gets up early in the morning and prepares the injera in her home, that she then brings her shop. She works every day except public holidays. Her two daughters, now in Grades 9 and 6, help out at home. The hardwork paid off. She eventually was able to by the Coffee Machine outright for 23,000ETB, over 1418CAD.
Her next purchase will be to buy a fridge, "probably by September," which she currently does not have. "Then I can serve cold drinks, which people want when it is hot and store food more easily." You see, she has not only paid back the loan. Alula’s business now affords her monthly profits of 3000ETB (185CAD). “On a good day I gross 1500ETB (92CAD) in sales,” She tells us. And the young woman serving us the coffee? She is one of her two employees.
The name of Alula’s cafeteria is Kallamino, named for the small river that runs nearby. We try to pay her for the food and drink she has offered. After all, it is her business. She refuses. "Please, you are my guests," she tells us. We do not insist and instead offer our gratitude.
Oh and by the way, Alula’s loan is just one of over 80 that the DOC sisters have given out since the start of the year. We are proud that Development and Peace supports Alula and the Daughters of Charity in building a better world for Ethiopian women.
To learn more about the 2015 Solidarity Trip in Ethiopia, please visit : ccodp.blogspot.ca