Ayalew and Ashenafi: Training for Change (Ethiopia)

A story of two Business Owners who are ‘Modeling the way’

The working conditions for youth in the textile industry are often overlooked. Business owners are more focused on getting the money out of the youth. MEDA has been working with weavers for more than two years and now through the E-FACE project, it is focusing on youth who are exploited because of their poverty and their lack of awareness. MEDA’s intervention in the E-FACE project started first with addressing the work relations with the business owners (BOs) and their working youth to initiate behavioral & attitudinal changes. BOs were motivated to experiment creating a positive conducive environment for the working youth. This ultimately should, impact their profits as youth begin to eagerly work and learn the skills of weaving. Introducing a code of conduct is one of the methods used in this programming.

The following chronicles the experience of two BOs that are beginning to mode the way for others in compliance to codes of conduct.

Story of Ayalew and Ashenafi

After taking OSH trainings for BOs, both of them started to improve the workplace and the working conditions of their young working children. They fixed pedals in their traditional looms, painted the walls of their workplaces, made shelves for placing sharp blades, scissors and textile products. They also inserted a conduit to avoid exposure to loose electric wires. The tiny workplace they have has changed; they also took advantage of the project provision of transparent roof sheets to increase the lighting of the workplace. In this regard they have been chosen as the model group in applying what they learnt and other BOs visit their work place to also see how they can easily apply what they learnt.

In Woreda 1 of Guleli sub-city, Addis Ababa, two weaver brothers Ayalew Kelkile and Ashenafi Kelkile leave in the same house and each employ youth to help them in weaving and spinning. This is in addition to their children, who also work after school. They have been working in traditional textile weaving for more than fifteen years. So far, they have no idea about responsibilities when dealing with the young workers. They do whatever they think is right to treat the workers, and never regarded the work-place conditions.

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