women with disabilities
Independence through wool
Bethelehem, Kedija and Ehitagegen grew up in an orphanage together and are lifelong friends. In 2017, they learned how to crochet through training sessions offered by Addis Guzo, which operates a centre for people with disabilities in Addis Ababa. This new skill enabled the women to start producing beautiful hand-crocheted stuffed cotton toys that they now sell at markets.
The toys were such a success that the women needed help to keep up with demand. They reached into their community, identified other women living with disabilities (many homebound), offering training and an opportunity to start earning an income through crocheting from their homes.
Often, the only option available for people with disabilities in Ethiopia is to beg on the streets to support themselves. But Bethelehem, Kedija and Ehitagegen want dignified and independent lives for themselves and other women living with disabilities.
However, although toy sales are helping, the toys has a limited market and the income that the production brings is still too modest to provide economic independence for the members of the cooperative.
In the cool highlands of Addis Ababa, there is a need for warm clothing, especially during rainy season. The product range that the women produce could be expanded to meet this need through knitwear. But because the breeds of sheep traditionally kept in Ethiopia are for eating, not for wool, knitting-wool is not readily available. This is why we need wool! We can give the women the skills required, but a steady supply of wool could further empower these women and others like them.
I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free
human being with an independent will.
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre