Women all over the world fight every day for education, independence, and to lift themselves out of generational poverty. In 2014, I Pour Life Ethiopia established Global Women’s Economic Empowerment (GWE). This program helps women in Kore, Ethiopia use their innate strengths and talents to launch their own businesses. They are then able to sustainably lift themselves out of poverty. To date, almost 400 women have been through the program. In December 2019, 25 new women began the program. Recently, I Pour Life’s Development Director, Stephanie Anderson, traveled to Ethiopia and sat down with several of these women to hear their stories.
One of the inspiring women she got to meet was Mulunesh.
Growing up, Mulunesh desired to receive an education but there was nowhere to attend school in her rural town. Her mother decided to send her to the capital of Addis Abba to live with her uncle so she could go to school. Sadly, her uncle was unable to take care of her. She was then sent to live with a different family where she was forced to become a maid. Mulunesh was unable to do the one thing she dreamed of which was attending school.
Being a maid, Mulunesh had to travel to different houses and do difficult manual labor. This caused a lot of stress, and her mental health began to decline. Over time, she said her character changed completely, and she was fired. With no other options, she went back to live with her uncle in Kore. She stayed with him for some time to recover and eventually started a small business selling a local drink.
Not long after, Mulunesh got married and had her daughter, who was born with physical disabilities and unable to move parts of her body on her own. Mulunesh devoted herself to her daughter’s care. Within a few years, she and her husband divorced and Mulunesh was forced to raise her daughter alone.
Her daughter is now 13 years old and can go to school but is unable to walk the distance from their home to school. Mulunesh carries her daughter on her back every day. This is a long journey from their home, which is near the Koshe dump and very far from the main road and school. In order to make an income, Mulunesh had been selling wood, which she also carried on her back every day to the marketplace. All of this was very hard on her body. Mulunesh said, “I experienced a lot of terrible back pain each day” hauling wood and carrying her daughter to ensure she could attend school. The physical pain became so bad, she was no longer able to work at all. Mulunesh started to lose hope. This is when she learned about I Pour Life.
When we asked Mulunesh what she thought about I Pour Life, she instantly smiled. She told us “I found I Pour Life because there is a large sign on the wall outside the compound that says ‘I Love Kore’. I wondered who could love Kore.” She then stumbled inside to find out. The I Pour Life team told her about the GWE program, and she soon registered to begin her training. Her dream is to start a clothing business. She’s completed almost all her training to receive her startup capital to make that dream a reality.
“I Pour Life has helped me a lot. I tried my best to change my life on my own. The knowledge and training I’ve acquired since joining I Pour Life has helped me grow more than I could’ve imagined.” Using all she is learning, Mulunesh plans to start her clothing business and continue to make differences in her lifestyle.
Read more about I Pour Life Ethiopia’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Program here.