Case Story of Meskerem Abay

Meskerem Abay is a 28-year-old lady. She completed her high school education 8 years ago. However, she was not able to continue her education since the point she scored at grade 10 was below the standard to continue her preparatory school or college level. Again, she was also unable to get a job neither in the government nor in the private sector.   Life was boring to her to live depending on her family. It was really boring to her to lead life sitting idle depending upon her parents. Then, she has started to dream to lead an independent life. She is good at communication skills compared to many persons with disabilities. She easily communicates and convinces people. She has good acceptance among her peers who are her age.

Seven years ago, the Disability Development Initiative (DDI), which is the local non-government organization working on the livelihood inclusion of persons with physical impairment, was recruiting persons with a physical impairment to engage them in different income generating activities including leather works, dairy farming, ‘injera’ preparation and provision for sale for the public, poultry farming, mobile apparatus sale and provision of electronics materials maintenance services for public, provision of secretarial services, etc. according to the interest and tendency of each individual. Then, Meskerem preferred joining leather workgroup to others.

In 2005, the leatherwork shareholder association was established.  Meskerem was elected as the chairperson of the association. The loan was facilitated and arranged by DDI through the partnership it had with the Finland National Association of Persons with Physical impairment. Then, Disability Development Initiative lent to the group ETB150,000 as a revolving fund to implement leather work activities. The money was used to implement different activities like procurement of 2 basic leatherwork machinery, house rent (it is a fair and reasonable rental cost) as the government gave them, for the registration process, procurement of simple tools, raw materials, transpiration for goods and for the members from work to home and from home to workplace. Meskerem has been efficient enough to manage the activities since then.

When the work started, her monthly income was ETB780. She left her family and started to lead her life independently. It was very challenging to lead a life with the amount of money she was getting. Then, she started to struggle to get a government house as it is almost free compared to the money privately rented houses. After many ups and downs, Meskerem was able to secure a government house. She is now leading a relatively relaxed life.   Fortunately, she had great hope that the workshop would develop quite soon. There was good progress from year to year. The good thing is that almost all the members are found at the same age. The loan taken as a revolving fund from DDI was paid back within 3 years. There was a salary increment every year. Currently, her salary reached ETB 4,000.  Meskerem needs to transfer the position to someone else with the association. However, the participants are comfortable with her management. The participants know that she can convince particularly the government stakeholders and also better heard than others. A year ago, Meskerem was married and she is now the mother of a baby.

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