Women can change the life of their family!
My name is Leke Tolera; I was born in the Western part of Ethiopia in a town called Wellega in the year 1979. I was the third child to a family of farmers. My mother passed away three months after giving birth to me and I grew up with my aunt who did not have children of her own and depended on a small business for survival.
I attended my regular class until the 8th grade and dropped out when my aunt’s health started deteriorating at which time running the business fall solely on my shoulders. When my aunt passed away, my cousin took me to a different town and promised me that she will put me back in school. However, I could not go back to school because of political instability and war that was going on in the new town that I moved in. After a while, I moved to another town to live with another cosine of mine and I started going back to school. the heavy domestic work load that I had to do in the house could not give me the time and space to concentrate on my studies.. Adding to this problem, my cousin was not willing to avail even the most basic educational materials I needed and so I reached to the point where I could no longer bear life with her.
In the year 1995, I run away from home with the brother of one of my friends and came to Addis Ababa (the capital of Ethiopia) to livewith his relatives. During my stay with them, I helped with household chores and four months later, I got a job to work as a waitress in a café for a monthly wage of 60 birr (around $7.5 at the time) eight months later, I fell in love and got married. My husband was working at the Internal Revenue Authority and earned a monthly income of birr 375 ($47) which we depended on. In the year 1997, I gave birth to our first child and we could only care for our subsistence with the income we had.
The message I want to pass on to my sisters is if we value work regardless of its kind and are committed enough, we can reach high stages in life. We need to have a vision and work hard to fulfill our vision. We also have to be strong to beat challenges that come our way.
Women in Self Employment (WISE) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Ethiopia Office.
For more on IIE , ACE or WISE please follow the links below.