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Africa Journal: FashionABLE


8 October 2012

The factory we visited was in the heart of Addis Ababa (which everyone shortens to just one word, Addis) and employs women whose live are transformed. I heard some of their stories and they have a similar theme: I needed money; money to sustain myself and keep a roof over my head and food in my stomach; a friend told me to turn to prostitution, I made money. Over half to three-fourths of the women who work there are mothers whose stories were powerful. The only criteria to be able to work at FashionABLE is the desperation of a life change. No one is recruited or forced to leave the life of a sex worker, but they are given an opportunity to be trained in a myriad of skills that lead to making scarves.

There is the usual influence and support from NGOs and places like Women First, but it was truly their life stories that make this work. Dying the fabric and weaving them are a part of the program, certainly, but it's the rehabilitation of the women that make this holistic program work. For instance, one of the first things they teach the women is to sleep during the night since they are used to being awake at night and asleep during the day.

There is brokenness, abuse, and trauma but it's the fact that they address it and aren't satisfied with just saying, "Here. Have a skill. Good luck." The children are cared for as well with school funding and uniforms. But, as a family unit they are offered parenting skills, counseling, and health checkups. That's the part I didn't know about or understand prior to visiting. The part about being a mother and feeling desperate and wanting to change your life resonates deeply with me. I think a lot of mothers feel that way.

I think a mother's heart is pretty radical. It is capable of just about anything.

It is an amazing thing to watch what this transformation does.
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Reader Comments (12)

I know where I am buying all of my Christmas presents from now on.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

And that's a beautiful swift and ball winder that the woman in blue is using! Love fiber arts!

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterV's Herbie

Is there a website I can use from the UK? I would love to shop there too

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlisonC

[...] Kelly Wickham is traveling in Ethiopia with ONE this week. This piece, originally published on Mocha Momma, is part of our ongoing coverage of the [...]

You are on an amazing journey!

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrandeMocha

Wow. Fantastic.

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl_Pal

This is fascinating. I would love to know more about everything here. The children, how they are doing, the women and how long they stay, where they go--who started it...

I went to a place somewhat like this in Guatemala and learned a lot about how little groups and NGOs make such a difference all over the world--but how they sometimes work or don't work due to the complexity of poverty and life struggles and how well people overcome it. Running a Fortune 500 company is probably nothing compared to running one of these organizations in terms of interpersonal complexity and financial complexity and political complexity.

Anyway, keep 'em coming. So fascinating and great photos!!!

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersnozma

Wasn't it just amazing Kelly, so fabulous to have travelled with you. Mich x

October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Twin Mum

I am loving all of the posts from the group of moms who are in ET right now! I am bouncing from site to site, soaking in the gorgeous photos, warm stories. My son is from Sidama in the south and we took a 2 week trip there through the Omo Valley, and then spent 2 weeks in Addis. I loved every minute and can't wait to go back! I'm looking forward to all of your posts!!!! :)

October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

I am so happy I discovered this post. I am trying to make it a point to purchase hand-made gift items. It has such a greater purpose.

October 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaro

[...] Kelly Wickham is traveling in Ethiopia with ONE this week. This piece, originally published on Mocha Momma, is part of our ongoing coverage of the [...]

[...] is a great organization that I learned about from the wonderful ONE Moms who went to Ethiopia (whose blogs I read and/or follow on twitter).  You’ll notice if you click on the links to the [...]

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