Women's Stories

When a woman has a job, it is statistically proven the impact she has on herself and those around her is profound. Behind those statistics, though, are real stories of pain and joy and overcoming. We invite you to read through some of the stories so that you might know them a bit, and that you might find that we all share in common a desire to be known and to be loved.

With ever-growing web accessibility to all corners of the globe, some names have been changed.

I AM ABLE

to send myself to school

Addis

Addis Alem is 20 years old. She works in the ‘sewing’ department at Modern Zege, and hope to become a professional sewer and start her own business some day. In her free time, Addis likes to watch movies in her free time.

She has gained respect and confidence as a working girl from her friends and family, and is proud for having a job. Addis was not able to pursue her studies after high school, but now she is ABLE to earn enough to start her college education at Abyssinia College and is studying Accounting.

Addis Leather Keychain

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I AM ABLE

to support my family

Agnes

I am now much more confident & proud to be working here. I live a much better life since joining the company and can now help to support my family and afford small luxuries for myself.

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I AM ABLE

to raise my family well.

Alem

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I AM ABLE

to have peace in my life.

Anchinalu

When I was 20 years old I came to Addis to live with my aunt because she promised to send me to school, but she did not. Instead, I worked as a maid and I was not happy at all. A woman who lived in my neighborhood dressed well, and that interested me. So she showed me I could work at a bar and be a prostitute. I had a baby, but my family took her from me because they didn’t want her to repeat my life style. // When I joined fashionABLE I changed my life. When...

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I AM ABLE

to love my job.

Aster

I am 25 years old and have a nine year old child.  I married young and never had the opportunity to get an education.  I first got a job at Trio Craft as a cleaner, but I have become an expert weaver.  I am so grateful for this work and I love my job.

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I AM ABLE

to live up to my potential.

Eden

My name is Eden, and I was born and raised in Addis Ababa. I grew up in a family of 5 children. When I was 21 I got my first diploma in clinical nursing but after graduation it was hard to find a job so I worked as a counselor until my friends at fashionABLE saw a potential in me and gave me an offer to work with them.  // It was the best decision I’ve made. Because of fashionABLE and the business we have, I am able to see many women being a leader in their community and...

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I AM ABLE

to take care of my kids

Eyerusalem

Eyerusalem is married and a mother of two, aged 13 and 5. She works in the sewing department at Modern Zege and aspires to become a professional and earn a good income. She has gained respect and dependability in her family as a working mother and is proud and confident for having a job.

She is grateful that they employed her without any technical (certified) skill in sewing. Modern Zege has helped her practice and gain the necessary experience and gives her raises as her productivity gets better over time. Eyerusalem likes to spend her free time with her kids, and because of...

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I AM ABLE

to face new challenges.

Feleku

I had no happiness in my life before. I didn’t trust people and was very negative. My behavior was bad and I had a lot of problems and no boundaries. // Now, I can support myself, face challenges, and see the positive in people and situations. Being able to work has changed my life and brought me joy.

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I AM ABLE

to be a leader at work and in my family.

Fikire

I have been working for Modern Zege for 9 years now and started as a stitcher without any knowledge or training.  But I have been given training and helped with my education so that I can now be in a place of leadership.  I am currently the quality control manager at Modern Zege. My family is very important to me with 2 children, 1 daughter that is 3 years old and a 7 year old son.  Raising my family has been my greatest challenge but also my greatest joy.  Through my work opportunity I am able to provide not only...

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I AM ABLE

to provide for my family

Frehiwot

In 2006 I got a divorce then I started facing the challenges alone and didn’t have any option to raise my children well. One day one of my “friends” gave me advice to start a prostitution business and I was convinced by her idea. I rented a small room in Addis and started. Some days I went to my house without getting any money and wasn’t even able to feed my children. I would then beg for food that I would bring home to my children. This was the biggest challenge in my life. // The happiest day...

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I AM ABLE

to embrace my role as mother.

Genet

I don’t remember my birth mother, and I was brought from the countryside into the city of Addis at age 3 by an aunt who promised my family I would have a “better life .” Instead, I was groomed to be a housemaid and given so many responsibilities that the load of work became impossible. By age 12, I ran away and began living on the street. I felt lost and I was continually raped . Eventually, I became pregnant. With a baby at 15, I learned to have sex for money so I could support her. I...

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I AM ABLE

to be independent.

Helen

I was born in Addis Ababa and my family moved to Nazarette in Ethiopia when I was 5 years old. My father was a driver and my mom didn’t work…. we were a middle class family. I went to a public school to finish high school, and after that I took training class in sewing.  I used to live with my brother and I was dependent on him for everything. So I applied for a job to make scarves and Ellilta products gave me a chance. // Now I am able to  be independent and have since moved out from...

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I AM ABLE

to develop professional business skills.

Heta

I have developed professional business skills. Personally I am able to support my family (I have recently installed electricity to my parents’ home). And I am a respected member of the team.

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I AM ABLE

to have confidence + dreams for my future.

Irene

I am still young and have done a course for basic computer packages. I would like to pursue further studies in a business related course – either in administration or sales & marketing. After working here for a year, my eyes have been opened and one day I would like to have my own business.

My current work has given me self-esteem. I now have financial self-reliance, am able to contribute to my parents for household expenses, and have savings for emergencies and education. I have self-confidence. I love having progressed to the point where I can now...

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I AM ABLE

to make big goals for my life.

Kalkidan

When I was 13 I was orphaned as my mother and father passed away.  I was able to move in with my aunt and uncle however I found it very challenging living with them as they did not treat me well. //  Now I am 22 years old and work as a stitcher and samples maker. After getting training from the Ethiopian leather institution, I was able to find a job at Modern Zege.  I love to design and hope to continue my education and one day become a designer in the leather industry in Ethiopia.

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I AM ABLE

to work hard and get promoted, too.

Mamuye

I am 24 years old, and I support my husband. I’ve been working at Modern Zege for 4 1/2 years, since I graduated from the Leather Industry Dev’t Indstitute. // I have loved being trained and upgraded in my knowledge of stitching. I am working on increasing my productivity, with the goal of getting promoted to the position of quality control.

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I AM ABLE

to send my two children to school.

Mehari

I am a single mother to 2 kids: a 17 year old girl and an 11 year old boy. I’ve been working in the coloring department for 8 years at Trio Craft. Before this job, I did not have a sustainable income and couldn’t provide for my family. //  This job has changed my life, and Trio Craft is more like a family than an employer. My boy has special needs, and it is because of this job that I am able to support both him and my daughter, and send them to school.

...

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I AM ABLE

to send my son Eyob to school

Meselu

My husband and I got in bad disagreements. When I was 25, I left and took my son and started sleeping outside a church’s door. I met this woman who had a prostitute business, and she offered me money and a house to rent. This is how it began… // My neighbors said there was a company who helps women with situations like mine. Now I work here making scarves. My job has taught me how to love, have self-respect, and it has been a positive change in my life.

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I AM ABLE

to love others well.

Meseret

I have one older sister and one older brother. My dad passed away when I was a child. I started the prostitution work because I was worried about my family and wanted to support my mother. At the age of 15, I ran away from my family and worked in the prostitution business. I worked for 13 years on the streets. Over all these years I’ve seen a lot of challenges in my life, and I have been hurt so many times by many people. // I am so glad to join the team at FashionABLE. I have...

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I AM ABLE

to feel confident

Mulu

I was 22 years old when I started as a prostitute. My husband told me to go to the city and continue my education, and he would come join me later. But he never came, and I got into prostitution in order to forget him. I felt like sleeping with different men would help me move on. It’s the most horrible, cheap, and disgusting life. // I have nothing to be ashamed of anymore. I have peace and rest, and I am very happy. I want my daughter to be in a good place and have the best...

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I AM ABLE

to learn new skills.

Niguse

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I AM ABLE

to independence + confidence

Rekik

Rekik is 21 years old. She comes from a poor family, and is finishing up her high school education. In her free time, Rekik likes to watch movies.  Working at Modern Zege has given her independence and self confidence. She even restarted her school during the night because she is now able to pay for her education. Rekik says her current job has inspired her so much that she wants to be a designer of leather products in the future and would like to own her own shop one day!

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I AM ABLE

to provide for my family.

Rita

My name is Rita, and I was born and raised in Addis Ababa. My family sent me to school, and afterwards I went to college and got my diploma in accounting. I was a stay at home mom until I was able to work with fashionABLE. // Now I am able to see other women becoming providers for their families as well.

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I AM ABLE

to be a leader in my workplace.

Seble

My name is Seble I was born in Addis and grew up in Ethiopia with my family in the capital city of Addis Ababa. I was the middle child in my family. Growing up, I had a great role model in my mom. She was a single mother and a strong woman. My siblings and I went to a public school and after high school I went to college and got my diploma in IT. // I have worked in different companies but I now have a job that I am passionate about. I manage my coworkers and am...

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I AM ABLE

to see that my children are proud of me.

Selam

I grew up in a big family, but fled to the city when I was 15 because I didn’t want an arranged marriage. I started as a housekeeper, and worked for 3 years. When I was 18, I was introduced to the life of prostitution. I had two children, whose father I will never know. I never got to see them because of working at night and sleeping during the day.// But now, the change and opportunity I’ve experienced through a “real” job gives me a joy that cannot be expressed. I am confident now, and my children...

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I AM ABLE

to have dignity + respect.

Sewunet

Sewunet is 21 years old and lives with her family. She worked in the Middle East for a short period as a housemaid, trying to support her parents, until she was deported back to Ethiopia. She felt bad when she came back, but is happy to have found a new job. With this work she feels more respected and dignified. She’s grateful to no longer be a burden to her family, and to now be able to support them. She dreams of specifically being a pro in leather seaming and stitching.

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I AM ABLE

to save for my future.

Susan

I love that I’m not dependent on a boyfriend, but I can be self-sufficient. I am able to support my little sister through her college, and to save for my future needs.

I want to develop more skills in the leather manufacturing business and advance to become a designer.

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I AM ABLE

to support my little sisters.

Teshome

I live with my family and support my little sisters. I’ve been working at Modern Zege for 5 years, ever since I graduated from the Leather Industry Dev’t Institute. // I came in with no experience, but they trained me well. I am always looking to improve my skills at work and to be a more valuable employee.

 

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I AM ABLE

to achieve my dreams.

Tizita

Like all fashionABLE products, these bracelets are named after one of the heroic women we work with. Tizita, who works at Entoto, is ABLE to achieve her dreams. Read on for more of her story...

 

"I was born in the country and came to Addis when I was 17. I got married and we had a healthy son. A few years later, my husband got very sick. As his situation worsened, we found out I was pregnant. We moved to live with my husband’s parents and they suggested that I...

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