“We’ll take a break now,” a loud voice penetrates the gloom of the workshop. It belongs to Yeshi Muheye. The 33-year-old is the speaker of the group and likewise an unmarried mother. She used to get up before sunrise to collect firewood on a nearby hillside for selling on the market. For a pitiful amount of money she could hardly feed herself and the children and made herself liable to prosecution and risked being arrested. Due to the threat of erosion on the slopes it is forbidden to cut wood on the hillside.
The job training of Menschen für Menschen gave Yeshi an alternative. During the one-month weaving course she and the other participants were paid the equivalent of 90 euros, because she was unable to earn a wage during this time. The money was even enough to buy a sheep and a few chickens. Through the sale of eggs, Yeshi was able to care for her children, and her 15-year-old daughter Kemila can at long last go to school on a regular basis.
Like Yeshi, all the members of the carpet group live from this kind of side-line job that she started with the help of Menschen für Menschen. Depending on their size, their carpets sell for between four and 15 euros. Most of the profits are invested in new wool, plastic or other materials from the market and they are able to save around 26,000 birr, about 800 euros. That money has already been paid into a bank account. “When we have enough money, we want to buy a delivery van,” says Yeshi. “It will enable us to take our products to the bigger markets, where we will also earn more.”
It’s an ambitious plan, but the carpet weavers are confident that they will succeed. The job training has given them confidence. “Earlier they would not even have dared to express an opinion. Today they feel confident and strong,” says social worker Zumra. She is particularly proud of Yeshi, who has assumed responsibility not only as speaker of the group. “I used to be plagued by concerns for the future,” says Yeshi. “Today I am no longer afraid, and I would like others who are in the same position as I was to have such an opportunity.”