Category Archives: Microfinance

An Unfinished Story

Numbers often convey to humans a story, but a story relying solely on numbers often fails to convey the human impact.

Hope Arising was founded by 3 women nearly 10 years ago.

Our water project installed 19 miles of pipe and now serves approximately 60,000 people.

Over 9 years, 20 dental team have traveled to Dera and have served an estimated 4,000 patients.

Our eye doctors have delivered more than 500 pairs of glasses and, by treating patients for trachoma, have saved the vision of hundreds more.

Our educational support efforts have paid registration fees more than 400 students to attend multiple years of school, has built 1 school, and built hygienic bathrooms that allow hundreds of young women to remain in class.

Our micro loans have assisted more than 50 women and provided basic business training as they raised these families toward self reliance.

The numbers convey the incredible impact of our volunteers and friends, but the numbers don’t really tell our story. The real story can only be understood by knowing the individual.

Meet Tiruworek.

Tiruworek’s husband died several years ago – we don’t know exactly when. But time and years pass differently in rural Ethiopia. People worry for today. Yesterday is past and tomorrow’s arrival is uncertain.

Five years ago Tiruworek and her two daughters lives were defined by uncertainty. How will I eat today? Where will my child sleep tonight? When she could find work, cleaning homes in the village, she earned $2.65 month. One daughter left to live with Catholic missionaries. Tiruworek and her daughter ate less than one small meal each day.

About this time she learned of Hope Arising’s new microloan program. Each in a small group of women would receive funds and training to start a personal business. Tiruworek created a plan and asked to be part of our first group of recipients.

After securing a $100 microloan, she established a business weaving baskets, making injera (bread), and selling her wares at the local market. Her life immediately improved. She and her daughter began to eat regularly; her daughter returned to school. Within two years, Tiruworek repaid her loan, saved $242, and relocated her family to a safer home.

Tiruworek and Chantal
Today Tiruworek’s life continues to improve. This past month she invited Hope Arising’s cofounder, Chantal Carr, to her home. Tiruworek new, royal blue dress and head scarf paled only in comparison to the bright, hopeful smile adorning her face.

Several children and women accompanied her; most had benefitted from her generosity. As they toured her small, clean home, Chantal noted the almost complete injera basket -Tiruworek’s latest craft -almost ready for market – sitting on a small plastic table and asked if she could buy it.

“No, it is my gift to you. But first I must finish it,” came the generous reply.

Chantal resisted the Ethiopian hospitality. The basket represented more than Tiruworek’ success. It told a story broader than one woman’s journey to hope; it represented more than the market’s price for basket.

The unfinished basket, the creation of Tiruworek’s nimble fingers, told a story. Not a story of numbers; a number of real people. Just like the basket, an unfinished story.

Editor’s note: Tiruworek’s story is an update to the story we originally shared in a 2013 video. Her story is just one example of how microloans improve not only the recipient’s life, but also the many lives of the recipient’s family and neighbors.

If you would like to help other women like Tiruworek, please consider donating today.

Video of Dera woman improving her life

We fell in love with Tiruworek Kebed!  She has made dramatic improvements in her life, thanks to the micro-loan from Hope Arising.  We are so happy she is able to increase her monthly income and her savings.  Instead of cleaning houses, she now makes beautiful baskets and delicious injera (a traditional local bread) to sell.   We hope to help more people like her.

 

 

 

 

 

Dramatic changes in womens’ lives

We were greeted in Dera by 10 women who told us their stories of how the Thrive Together program has helped them.  They receive micro-loans and in return must attend classes and make commitments, such as keeping their kids in school (which Hope Arising helps to pay for) and have 2 meals a day.  One woman was making the equivalent of  $1 a month as a housekeeper.  With her micro-loan, she was able to buy equipment and supplies to start her own business making injera (a local bread) and weaving baskets.  She now has enough money to feed her family and has saved the equivalent of $263.  She is amazing!  The progress of these women is impressive!

HA Oct 2013 Trip_062smaller

woudneh

I arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia early evening July 18, 2009 after 28 hours of travel. Upon arrival, my greatest challenge was to hold back salty tears. Either from complete exhaustion, gratitude for three flawless connections and luggage that had made it, or from being filled with emotion that I had finally arrived in the country I had dreamed of visiting since my childhood! I failed. As I was greeted by a friend who had arrived earlier and an Ethiopian woman, Betty, the tears flowed. We drove to meet other members of the travel team and Betty’s husband.

“My name is Woudneh!” he says to me. I couldn’t understand what he said but I had caught the twinkle in his eye and his smile. One of those smiles that shined through his entire expression. “Woudneh. Woudneh. Woudneh” I rehearsed in my head. This is Woudneh!

He stopped the car at an open side road “shop” that looked more like a shabby lemonade stand to me. This shop was something I quickly discovered was very common throughout the city. Ethiopian Walgreens. He was buying candy: To welcome me to the country, but more importantly for his children. He hadn’t seen them all week…his three beautiful children. And oh how their lives differ from the life he knew as a child.

Woudneh grew up in a tiny village called Dera (southeast of Addis Ababa about 140 kilometers) the middle of 13 children. Born in the spring of 1970, he’s not really sure of the exact date. His parent’s met and fell in love, married and had a child. Her parents did not approve of the marriage and so they took her away and married her to another man, whom she had a child with. Her first husband (Woudneh’s father) searched for her and brought her back. They had eleven more children. Perhaps it was his employment that disappointed his in-laws; he was a school teacher, making the equivalent of about fifteen US dollars a month. Not enough to feed hungry mouths…at least not more than bad tasting lentils.

Perhaps it was these circumstances that led six year old Woudneh to live with his grandfather in Addis Ababa. It was just the two of them, as his grandmother had left to join a monastery to become a monk. Or maybe it was because his father had been illegally imprisoned for his activism and opposition against political leadership. Regardless, this was a time of hard work: wearing no shoes, he’d walk to school an hour each way, only after he’d prepared his grandfather’s meals. He’d return to plow the field and sell the crops of the small farm.

Two years later he returned to join his family. But he wouldn’t stay for long. At the age of ten, he was attacked by appendicitis. A Cuban doctor in a larger, neighboring village treated him and insisted he live nearby a hospital …just in case. This time he would live with a disturbed older sister and her gentle and patient husband. Again he would learn to work hard as he would now apply what he’d learned working for his grandfather.

This time he was a salesman of prepared food…working in a cafeteria. Early mornings were spent preparing food; afternoons were spent purchasing supplies and approaching people to sell it. “Today’s food is very good!” I’d tell them. “We purchase very good butter, onion!” I feel that all people are my friends. I ask questions, I have a sense of what to say, I was not afraid to talk to people. And thus he developed a keen sense of business and marketing.

The appendicitis never returned. His education continued. Important lessons of patience were learned as he watched his brother-in-law patiently live with an abusive, troubled wife. My brother-in-law is a patient person. I learned from him. I cannot judge other people. I know him well. Some of his friends would start businesses and lose lots of money. They would get so upset they would go “mad”. He was not like this. He knew he had to be patient. I learned that from him.

His positive attitude of learning from experience and from the circumstances of life was fostered and developed at a young age, with hard work and discipline being central themes to his story. Graduation came but didn’t open any doors for improved employment.

With a desire for independence, Woudneh joined the military. With it came training by North Koreans, malaria and a civil war. The war had actually begun in 1974 when Ethiopians begun fighting with Eriterea (a province of Ethiopia, located south of the Red Sea, east of Sudan and north of Addis Ababa.) Issues of severe drought, particularly in the northern regions of the country, government corruption, and better living conditions for the poor were all important factors in the fighting. (Granville, 2004)

meselesh

This beautiful young mother’s name is Meselesh. She has a daughter who is eight years old and a brother, Ephraim, who is sixteen. They live in a humble two-room mud house with a “kitchen” in the back that is covered only by a tarp. Meselesh lost the use of her right leg six years ago to unexpected paralysis. Her right arm is difficult to use, as well. Doctors cannot find a reason for the paralysis. Upon visiting their home, we learned Ephraim was recovering from typhoid fever. He was still very weak and had not been able to go to high school for a couple months, but was helpfully chopping vegetables for their family meal. He was planning to return to school this week to see how long he could stay before getting too fatigued. This brother/sister team makes injera to sell. Injera is a staple in every Ethiopian’s diet. It is equivalent to our bread. It is made from the tiny teff seed. Meselesh’s paralysis makes it difficult for her to get to the market to sell her injera. She has hired a couple of young girls to sell the injera for her. This blessing relieves her of the physical strain of dealing with the market; however, it also decreases her income. She must purchase wood for the outdoor stove to cook the injera. Meselesh has an idea to buy two electric injera ovens to increase her production and lower her overhead costs of buying firewood. Electricity is less expensive than kindling.  This production increase will allow her to sell injera to local hotels and restaurants. She lacks only the micro-loan in order to purchase two injera ovens to take her income-generating activity from dream to reality. Despite being handicapped, a single mom and taking care of her orphaned brother, Meselesh has the fierce desire to remain in her home and to be self-reliant. She lacks only the resources of a small loan to make this happen.