Driving through the streets of Addis is a bright blur of colorful fruit stands, fragrant coffee shops and hardworking people selling every imaginable good. Roughly 7 million residents call the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, their home. All of the trash from the city’s hustling gets dumped in one spot, the Kore trash heap. Many people in Addis do not know that the Kore community exists. Kore is home to single moms and dads struggling to make ends meet, shunned HIV positive women, lepers, and undernourished children. Abandoned street boys as young as four years old can be seen gambling or selling goods in the street.
While Kore may reside forgotten or unknown by the rest of the city, the nonprofit Adera Foundation comes alongside a community of people who are no stranger to difficulty. The local poverty provides few options that bestow dignity yet there is a continued commitment to provide for oneself, one’s family, and one’s community.
Adera calls these people worthy of love and opportunity. Adera offers community development opportunities ranging from healthcare, job training, education, and guitar and soccer clubs for local children. Among these community-oriented opportunities is a social enterprise called Adera Designs, providing 20 mothers with a living wage and meaningful community. These 20 women are not faced with harsh alternatives of scavenging in the dump or selling wares on the street to provide for their children.
Instead, each day Adera moms gather around a table, making jewelry, conversation, and bearing one another burdens while intermittently giggling and sassing one another. They too discuss challenges and celebrations, reminding each other to take their HIV medication, celebrating a child leaving for college. Each woman has experienced difficulty and attack against her beauty and self worth. They have experienced a society that makes them feel less beautiful because of the missing fingers that leprosy stole. They have experienced men who abuse them rather than affirm their worth. They too have struggled to ease the difficulty their children experience and instead offer them the opportunity they hoped for themselves. Amidst the difficulty there is human triumph by capable women.
This is a room of women who are learning their worth, affirmed in their value and experiencing their immense capability. They are working women dropping their children off at daycare or beading with a sleeping child nestled in their lap. They are mothers, wives, widows, sisters and friends. They have heavy days and others are filled with joy. The chattery gathering of women looks similar to any room of close women you have walked into.