RPCV Legacy Program - an activity of E&E RPCVs

The Lives of the Trainees

E OFFER THESE STORIES to provide insights into the lives of specific young people involved in the project. To protect their privacy the trainees are referred to by initials that do not stand for their family or given names. 
     
These stories were gathered from the trainees by CHAD-ET staff. Translation is a joint effort of CHAD-ET staff and RPCVs Scott and Kay Morgan. Editorial notes and definitions are in italics.

AK, 18 years old, female
I was born in Tigray (the northern region of Ethiopia). When my mother became sick she brought my two brothers, my one sister and me here to Addis Ababa to live with her mother.  My mother died when I was small. I heard from my grandmother that my father is in Tigray. I quit school after first grade because my grandmother could not pay my school expenses. One of my legs is disabled because of an accident when I was 9 years old.
     My grandmother supports me. My brother works as a day laborer and my sister works in a "shisha bet." (A room or small house where people come to smoke shisha in a hookah and chew chat.) She sells and serves tea, coffee, and cigarettes. My grandmother gets some support from her brother and his children.
     CHAD-ET gave me the opportunity to learn hair dressing. I am now in an internship program. Finding employment is difficult. Even if we get a job, the salary is so small that it doesn’t cover house rent, food and clothing. If God is willing, the four of us in the internship program will start our own hair dressing shop together. This is possible because CHAD-ET helps to support us. The four of us meet once a week to discuss how to start a shop.

TE, 17 years old, female
I have two younger brothers. My mother and father are separated. We live with our uncle, my mother's brother. My father is an alcoholic and moved away. He used to tear up my exercise books. He does not love me. My mother and my uncle don’t agree on things, so she also moved out recently. Also my uncle doesn't like that my mother became a Muslim.
     I had a mental illness but now I am fine. My friends and my mother took me to "tsebel," the holy waters found around Orthodox Churches. I was there for about two months. I quit my schooling and the training at the beauty center during that time. Thanks to God, now I am fine.
     I went back to my school and completed my training in hair dressing. Now I am in an internship program. One of my brothers work as a day laborer after school and can pay for his schooling and food. I support my youngest brother. I do the traditional hair style called "shuruba" (plaits) in our neighborhood for 3-5 birr per person (about US $0.50).

MG, 18 years old, female
She is one of the second group of trainees in the legacy project. She completed her formal education at grade 10. She is the only daughter of her family. Her mother, about 50, has suffered from blindness for the past 7 years after an unsuccessful cataract operation. MG is responsible for household chores especially since her mother’s blindness. Household chores are the cultural role of females and she is the only child. Until he died recently, her father, about 55, worked as guard and earned small amount of income for the family. His death left MG and her blind mother helpless. At this time she lost hope in her life and attempted to take her own life. She was taken to hospital and was saved. She still suffers from the effects of the drug she took and still has stomach pain. 
     
MG’s dream was go to to the University but she did not pass the National Exam. After failing to pass the exam, she applied to Children Aid – Ethiopia (CHAD-ET ) for vocational training in cosmetology and was accepted.
     
Unfortunately she was unable to continue training due to a nerve problem. She was unable to grasp things and stand properly. She felt sick at training. She stopped going to training because she was afraid of collapsing in front of her friends. She went through treatment, but continued to stay at home because of fear and frustration.
     
MG’s first priority is to find a way to make money to sustain herself and her mother. She looks everywhere for employment opportunities. So far she has had no success.
     
MG has considered going to the Middle East to earn income as a housemaid but her mother is fiercely opposed to this idea. The mother wants her daughter to be close to her. MG does not want to go abroad against her mother’s will. In addition MG’s mother has emotional problems. She is committed to pleasing her mother.
     
As a last resort MG and her mother could live with an uncle and aunt in Tigray, but her uncle and aunt are poor and have their own family to support.

HL, 18 years old, female
I was born in Addis Ababa in 1987. When I was 7 years old, I went to Kelemeork School. I was a good student until I reached 8th grade. My father died when I was a little girl. When I was in 9th grade, my elder sister who supported the family died. My mother returned to selling “injera” to support the family. But soon she quit because the smoke from the fire made her sick. Then I started working in a “shisha bet”. When I worked there, I smoked shisha and chewed chat. I became addicted but I was never absent from school. I was not properly attentive and had fights with my teachers. I used to go to school in the morning and work in the afternoon and stay late. One day a guy raped me in the shisha bet. After that I continued to go out with different men. I always used a condom. After some time, I had enough business to support my family and myself. Then, I left home and started to live with other commercial sex workers. My family did not know what I was doing.
     
I completed grade 10 but my marks were not good enough to continue school. Then I found out about CHAD-ET. They offered me skills training. Now I am a graduate in food preparation from the New Millennium Hotel and Language Institute. I got an opportunity to work at the Hotel. I am no longer in the sex business and have even cured my addiction to shisha and chat.

WS, 18 years old, female
I was born in Gojam in 1985. I started school when I was a little girl. My parents were very poor and had more children than they could support. An aunt who lived in Addis Ababa took me with her to Addis. She had no children of her own. I was very glad when I came to Addis Ababa in 1992. Most of our neighbors either rented small rooms to sex workers or were sex workers themselves. When I was about 16 years old my aunt died and I had no money for food, clothing or rent. I completed 10th grade with the help of neighbors but life was very difficult. Then I became a sex worker like my aunt.
     
One day a friend took me to CHAD-ET. I benefited from the services they offer, like counseling and skills training. After the training I got employment in one of CHAD-ET’s offices. Now I have a decent job and I am happy.

ER, female
I was born in Addis Ababa in the Teklehymanot Kebele (district). When I was a baby my parents died and some relatives took me to Gondar. Then a relative of my father took me from Gondar back to Addis Ababa. He did not take care of me and gave me lots of work to do at his home. A friend of mine told me that I could be employed as a domestic worker and continue my education at a night program, instead of working for my relative for nothing. So I ran away with her. Once I was on my own she told me that I had to be a sex worker. I accepted because I had no place to go. I knew the business was dangerous.
     
CHAD-ET gave me the opportunity to get training in cosmetology. I will finish training in two months. I hope to find a job after I graduate. I see a bright future because of this training. I am sure I will manage to change.
     My mother sometimes gives us money. My uncle only provides us with shelter.

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Ethiopia & Eritrea RPCVs