Habtam was a caring mother, but she was also very concerned about finding help for her children.
Life was very difficult where she lived with her children in Lay Gayint, Ethiopia. She had no money to pay for the most basic necessities for her household.
Feeding the children on a daily basis was a struggle. The educational materials and other items required to allow them to attend school were completely out of reach for her.
Hope was Elusive
She struggled to find ways to make a living but saw no hope for change. “There were many days that my children, when they could go to school, arrived with empty stomachs,” Habtam explains.
But it hadn’t always been like that. Life was better when her husband was alive.
“When my husband passed away, I tried to find work as a day laborer,” Habtam says. “But because of my health conditions, I was not physically able to perform the tasks required for the work that was available. So employers didn’t want me for their jobs.” She says she became completely hopeless.
A Terrible Solution
“Finally I decided that I would leave my children to anyone who would take care of them so at least they could find new lives,” she says.
But this caring mother instead found hope in the form of the Food for the Hungry (FH) Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) project. Her two children joined in 2008.
Hope Arrives for Children and Mother
The children began receiving food and medical care, and also educational materials that enabled them to attend classes.
And there was hope for Habtam, as well. She was encouraged by the project staff to join a savings group and began to engage in income-generating activities.
She became a member of a savings and credit cooperative. This made her eligible to receive a 5,000-birr loan ($116 US dollars) to purchased five sheep. She also was taught how to care for them.
“I began fattening and eventually selling them, and soon I was able to pay off that first loan,” Habtam says.
Multiplying her Success
She qualified for a new loan to expand her business, and this included purchasing a dairy cow, which not only provided nutrition for her household, but also produced more than they needed. So she began to sell the surplus.
“Now I can feed my children three times a day,” she says proudly, “and sometimes they may also have snacks after school.”
The children now receive health insurance, as well, and Habtam took part in discussion groups and qualified for counseling. Over time, as her success and self-worth became evident, she became a role model for other caring mothers who had also had believed they were not capable of supporting themselves.
Growing Self-Worth and Hope
“The counseling services I received from social workers have gradually changed my thoughts about myself. Before, I believed I was worthless. But now I am one of the voluntary caregiver mothers in the community dedicated to helping others,” Habtam says.
Today, her oldest son is 17 years old and enrolled in college. Her young daughter, Kalkida, is 10 and in the fourth grade.
“I feel I am in the right lane for change now, thanks to God and those supporters who make this project possible,” she says.
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