Across Ethiopia, the role of head of the house goes to a man that will be responsible for the family's livelihood. Despite this tradition, the Southern Nation Nationalities People's Region, specifically the Gamo Gofa zone, has seen an alarming trend of single-parent households on the rise. Many husbands abandon their families as economic burdens become too much to handle. As a result, the women are forced to support their families without any assistance. This is the story of a woman in a similar position who was able to make a difference through determination and a strong spirit.
"My name is Bekelech and I live in the Gamo Gofa zone of the Arba Minch woreda. A few years ago my husband and I began to struggle with our finances. It became unbearable and one day my husband decided he could no longer support the family. He suggested we send our two sons to live with my parents in a rural community. As a person that cannot read or write, I knew the difficulties my sons would face without access to the city's better education system. Witnessing my sons' chances at a proper education slip away was unacceptable. I immediately rejected his offer and I was left alone to support my family.
After discussing the situation with a friend, she allowed my family to live in her room without pay until I could afford to rent a small apartment. It was during this time I was accepted into an E-FACE project where I joined a local VSLA group. During the first training session, I received a per diem fund that I used to purchase coffee cups and thermoses. I was able to start my business selling coffee and I also managed to save a portion of my income. Since then, I have been able to repay the loans taken out to expand my business and I have saved enough to pay my rent.
"At the moment life is going well for my boys and me. During the last semester, both of my sons were placed in the top 12 of their class rankings. I have raised very clever children and I hope to continue being a good example of determination and success."
Since her involvement in the E-FACE project, Bekelech has been able to save and invest in her growing coffee business. She has plans to buy her own property and invest in her sons' futures. Bekelech's strong spirit allowed her to continue moving forward despite the obstacles she faced. She has worked day and night to change her life and she expects nothing but good things to come.