Early each Sunday morning as most citizens in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia are waking up, Sister Yeweinshet is boarding public transportation and traveling a considerable distance to serve as the Relief Society president of her branch. This is no small task, since she is also blind.
Her desire to care for others goes beyond the members of her branch. She also works for a non-government organization whose aim is to help women with disabilities become self-supporting, self-reliant, productive members of their communities.
Recently Sister Yeweinshet was instrumental in helping Latter-day Saint Charities (LDSC) in Ethiopia partner with the Finote Rehabilitation for Women with Disabilities Association. The Association’s three-year project is designed to help 315 women by offering training in five general areas: basic computer usage, Braille literacy, tailoring, hair dressing, and entrepreneurship/income generation.
Braille literacy and computer usage are ongoing. To assist these programs, LDSC donated five tables, 20 chairs, a Braille typewriter, 30 styluses, 20 reams of paper, 20 canes for the blind, 100 bars of body soap and 100 pars of laundry soap. These two programs last for about three months, are offered four times a year, and can each accommodate seven to ten women at a time.
As they expand their programs to include tailoring, hair dressing, and entrepreneurship, LDSC will look at helping with those programs as well.
According to the LDSC, “In order for a woman to qualify for the Braille literacy program, she must be homeless, be a mother, be blind or partially blind, and with no formal education.”
According to the Global World Report, in sub-Saharan Africa there is a 15-20% disability prevalence. It is estimated that in Ethiopia there are 10 million people with disabilities, and one half of these are women. Along with the skills programs, as well as psychosocial counselling, HIV/AIDS and reproductive health education, these women can lead healthier and more productive lives.