ONE Mom Blogger and Parent Hacks founder Asha Dornfest is traveling in Ethiopia with ONE this October. This blog post is part of our ongoing coverage of the trip. This piece was originally published on her site.
Sometimes an idea seems so obvious, it’s a wonder no one’s ever thought to do it before. Such is the idea behind FashionABLE, an Addis Ababa-based non-profit.
A simple idea, but making it work is remarkably complicated. FashionABLE partners with Women At Risk, an organization that reaches out to and rehabilitates prostitutes by providing counseling, health care, job training, and a small stipend so they can support themselves during the year-long rehabilitation process. We met with the Director of Women At Risk, Cherry Teketel, who captivated us with her passion is to connect with and help these women build a new life.
FashionABLE fits into the picture as a source of employment once rehabilitation is well underway. Not only were we able to join the women as they dyed cotton, spun thread and wove the delicate scarves on large, twig-based looms, we were able to listen as they told us their stories.
Saba and Mulu (with Cherry translating from Amharic) each told us about the different, desperate paths that led them to the streets, and then, to FashionABLE. Each expressed great pride in their ability to not only to produce something of beauty and value, but to support themselves while doing it.
Photo: Saba (with Cherry) telling us her story.
As Saba said simply, “Here I have found peace.”
Each FashionABLE scarf is named after a women who works there, and each bears a hangtag with her handwritten note. This is Saba’s message:
Because of you, I am ABLE to feel pride in my work. Thank you, Saba
What can you do? Buy scarves! Soft, delicate FashionABLE scarves are an ideal gift — for you, someone you love, or your favorite teacher. Each purchase supports a job for a woman who needs it, and all the profits from the sale go straight back to Women At Risk, helping to reach out to even more women.
Photo credit: ONE/Karen Walrond
Tomorrow, we leave Addis for a two-day stop in Bahir Dar, a city in Northwest Ethiopia and the site of Lake Tana. We will be learning about agriculture and nutrition, and will get a glimpse of rural life. I hear the Internet connection can be spotty, so fingers crossed. Cell coverage seems fine, though, so keep an eye on the #ONEMoms hastag on Twitter and Instagram.