A woman I met today is a married mother of six who is currently enrolled in the BEZA Women's Empowerment program, here in Addis Ababa. She currently earns a living by selling fruits and vegetables in her neighborhood. To sell the items, she must first travel approximately 25 minutes by taxi every day, or every other day, to Merkato, the largest market in all of Africa. Here she buys the fruits and vegetables for a wholesale price. She then takes the items back to her neighborhood and sells them at a slightly marked up price in order to earn enough money to support her family. It costs at least 150 Birr (1 USD = ~21 Birr) to support her family of 8 every day. In her spare time, she makes coffee mats by hand while at her selling post. One of these beautifully hand-crafted mats can be sold for the 150 Birr, and made to completion in 2 days. (The one shown above is not yet complete, as a long fringed edge will be woven on around all four sides to secure the mat and complete the work).
Can you imagine only having about $7.50 to feed your ENTIRE family each day?! I certainly can't, and yet, even in the US, many homeless families and individuals have the same dire circumstances. Being here in Addis is not only showing me the need for global aid, but for me, as an American, it amplifies the need for me/us as a country to support our own citizens, as well. Thank God for the BEZA Women's Empowerment group, who has provided resources and long-term financial management education to women who already have the drive and skills to address their most vital needs to survive and support their families. Through BEZA they begin to flourish, and while it may not seem like much to us Americans, the same sense of pride, self-sufficiency, and internal strength through God is equally attainable here. I only hope that more American service organizations can provide and invest the same long-term support and education in the homeless and underserved, stateside.