Map of Ethiopia

Transforming Lives

So that she could stay in school, 13-year-old Fiker Tenaw refused a marriage planned for her by her parents.

Like many developing countries, the practice is widespread in Ethiopia, even though it is unlawful and punishable. This is particularly so in the Amhara Region where the prevalence is among the highest in the world as reflected in a 2010 Population Council study showing that almost 50 percent of girls were married before the age of 15 and some married as early as age 7.

Melesse Yohannes uses his “Rough Rider” wheelchair to go out and buy supplies for his shoe-making and repair shop.

Living with a disability often means facing discrimination, exclusion from mainstream society, and a formidable range of physical obstacles. For most of the more than 7 million Ethiopians living with disabilities, simply getting around usually requires assistance from family or friends, while earning a real income and having financial independence remain unattainable dreams.

Nurse aids who work at Hamlin Fistula Center in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.

In 1988, Mesaye*, a 15-year-old girl from North Gondor, Ethiopia, began to have contractions and knew that the birth of her first child was near. Unfortunately, like so many other young mothers whose bodies have not matured enough to safely give birth, Mesaye experienced an excruciating four days of labor that ended in a stillbirth.

Nefisa and her husband with their 2-week-old daughter.

Five years ago, Nefisa Hassen, a 24-year-old farmer from Ethiopia, had her first child at home. The labor and birth were prolonged and difficult. She prayed that, when her time came to deliver, she wouldn’t have complications forcing her to go to the health center. She could not handle the pity of her neighbors if she was unable to have a normal birth, and she wasn’t certain her husband could cover the cost of transportation to the facility.

Ethiopia Clean Water

You are thirsty. Now imagine walking six hours round trip, only to reach dirty water at your destination. That’s what Semegn Mikir did every day just to acquire water for her family in Ethiopia. Mikir is the mother of a 2-year-old daughter and lives in the rural Lay Gayint district in Taria Georgies village.


Last updated: November 23, 2015

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