A Positive Example and Role Model to the Elderly
Emahoy Alem Hawaz is a member of ‘Mulu Tesfa’ Saving and Credit Cooperative in ‘Akaki-Kaliti’ Sub-City in Addis Ababa. She serves as a member of the reconciliation/mediation committee and sells such items as embroidered church umbrellas, wax candles and incense. Emahoy recalls her previous life as follows. “After I married and had children, I left all my belongings behind due to a misunderstanding with the wife of my husband’s brother. I entered a nunnery so that my family would be unable to find me. On being alarmed by my leaving, my family stepped up their efforts to locate me but were unsuccessful. I went from one nunnery to another, trying to live my life. However, on being informed of my possible whereabouts, my son who now lives with me eventually found me at Ziquala Nunnery.
I was very happy to see him after such a long time. Therefore, with my son’s future in mind, I gave up my life as a nun and returned to Addis with him. At the time we lived off with little income my son obtained from his shoe shining work. However, the ever increasing house rent made our existence very difficult. I used to ask myself what business activities I should engage in and where I was going to find some money and a place to undertake these activities.
As I was planning to start work, I heard that an organization called WISE was promoting its aims and activities. This took place in 2000. Prior to undergoing training by the organization, I tried to save some money which my son gave me.
Before long, I undertook a 5-day training course at WISE, in developing basic skills in business activities. I learnt what types of activities I should be involved in, and how to become successful in these undertakings. I also obtained useful information on time management and on how to retain customers. I took out a first loan of 700 birr, bought some barley and began making ‘Kolo’ (a type of peanut) at home. My son went around in his spare time selling the Kolo. After paying back the loan, I took out a further loan to buy candles and incense and began selling these at church gates. As my son was going to school at the time, his Kolo-selling activity seemed a little too much for him, and since I did not want this to get in the way of his education, I stopped making Kolo and concentrated on my church related business activities on my own. During holidays, I sold butter obtained from the countryside. The profit I made from this contributed to an increase in my income, and easily helped pay my house rent which had previously been a problem for me. I also managed to purchase some important items I needed. I currently have savings of 22,000 birr in my
Saving and Credit Cooperative and have nearly returned the total amount of 15,000 birr loan. I had previously taken out for my activities. People in my community encourage me, which helps me to do much better. Recognizing my efforts, the ‘Woreda’ personnel helped me to obtain on lease, a piece of land on which to build a house. I have requested a modest sum of money from the WISE-SACCO -Union for this purpose.
I participate in various programs in my Kebele, sharing my experiences with the youth, among others. I have also become an example and role model to other elderly persons. Due to my responsibilities in my saving and credit cooperative,
I try to mediate between members and reconcile differences through dialogue. We members also visit each other during times of stress, sorrow and happiness, which contribute to strengthening our relationships, something that should be encouraged in all cooperative”.
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 Intenrational Education (IIE), Ethiopia Office
For more on IIE , ACE or WISE please follow the links below.