by Tenagne Mekonnen, Regional Communications Manager, ChildFund Africa
“My financial status has increased. I can support my family with the income I get. My children and family have the benefit of drinking milk. Food is on the table all the time,” Genet tells me with a big smile when I stop by her house for a visit.
The mother of three children, Genet lives about 130 km (81 miles) from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. Genet is the beneficiary of the ChildFund-Semen Shoa Tesfa Berhan Child and Development Family Association (CDFA). One of her children now has a ChildFund sponsor.
Genet joined the credit and savings cooperative organized by CDFA and the Ethiopian government to alleviate her poverty. She was able to take a loan and buy a cow to start a milk-selling business in her village. But prior to the purchase of the cow, Genet explains that she received ChildFund-supported training to help her run her business successfully.
“I purchased this beautiful cow and I get 15 liters (4 gallons) per day from this cow,” Genet tells me. Her children and family are happy to now have a steady supply of milk at home. Selling the extra milk has also improved the financial status of the family, enabling them to buy other necessities and send their children to school.
I ask Genet how she sells all of the milk and who are her customers. She replies that the family association has organized the Women’s Milk Cooperative with support from ChildFund Australia. Village women bring their milk to the co-op every day. The association then sells milk, butter, cream and cheese to the local community. “Though we give our milk to the cooperative on a daily basis, we collect the money twice a week, which helps us to use the money wisely,” Genet explains.
In addition to her dairy business, Genet points to other assistance gained through ChildFund. “The organization provided us apple seeds. I planted the apple seeds. I had not seen an apple before in my life; it was the first time last year I was able to see and taste apple,” she says.
“Now I have the information about apples,” Genet exclaims. “The apple is good for health and can make good money. Therefore, this year I have apple fruits on my trees and I am sure that too is going to increase my finances.”
ChildFund gives sustainable and life-changing support to the community on a long-term basis, Genet reflects. “But if for some reason ChildFund decides to leave this town, we are able to stand by ourselves. Our status is changed because of the training and the support we have received from the organization,” she says.
“What can I say? I have no words to express what ChildFund is doing. We can only say we are different now. Our children go to school, they are healthy, they are fed well and they have uniforms and school materials. We know there will always be challenge but we have learned how to tackle,” she says.
Now, I understand the big smile of Genet.