Telling their story

A story from our Ethiopia office: “THIS IS A PALACE FOR ME” – BEYENECH’S STORY 

With a lot of gratitude, we are proud to share with you the story ofBeyenech Seids’. This is the first successful house repair for ROTOM Ethiopia. Despite years of hardship, Beyenech shows great hopefulness as she tells her story. Beyenech is one of our seniors who joined ROTOM Ethiopia in 2017. She was born in a rural area which is called Ataye, located in North West Ethiopia in the region of Amahara. It is almost 600 km from Addis Ababa. Like many elders, she does not remember when she was born. She has brothers and sisters. Her family were farmers, and they were poor. As she told us, the abduction of girls was a pretty common practice in her community. Sending girls to schools was considered making them rude. Early marriage counted as a blessing for the family. Like many rural elders, she is illiterate, and she does not have a formal marriage. She had moved to Addis Ababa for work. While she was working in Addis Ababa, she married a man who worked there and they had children. Unfortunately, her marriage was not official, and her husband left her. All the burdens to take care of her children then fell on her.

To take care of her children, she had to work hard. She has been a maidservant until she retired. She lost her daughter and then came to Debrezeit with her son. She made injera (a local bread made out of Teff grain) with fire-wood for thirty years for one household, but when she got sick, they told her to stop working for them. Her eyes do not function well; the smoke damaged her eyes. Since she does not have money to pay for house rent, she lived on the street with her son. Because of the stress, she developed a mental disorder. Fortunately, she met a woman who let her live in her old kitchen, which was leaky and had a collapsed wall. Life is bitter and despairing but she does not like complaining. Because the roof leaked during the rainy season, she put a bucket on her bed when she slept. Then the walls collapsed on two sides; which made her feel cold and insecure. Except for the ROTOM Ethiopia staff, no one had offered to help fix her home.                                                                                                      Before

These are her words – “Since I joined ROTOM Ethiopia, a place where I found true care, love, support, and family, I feel good about living. I have not dreamed that I will have a clean and well-organized home. I feel like a queen. Now my house is a palace. You make my old age full of joy. You make me equal with other people. My neighbors’ came into my house to have coffee with me. You have changed my terrible memory into joy. I will not regret if I die now. I do not have anything to give you back, but I will bless you forever. May God bless you and yours.” Thanks to Janet & Ken Kowalski’s extra donation, her life has changed.

In September of 2020, Beyenech house was renovated and furnished by ROTOM Ethiopia with the generosity of her sponsor Janet & Ken Kowalski’s extra donation. With the donation, her home was repaired and made safe and secure for living. We bought her a mattress, cupboard, cabinet, and kitchen utensils. We are a witness to Beyenech’s big smile and tears of happiness. Indeed she is living a dignified and fulfilled life. Thank you for your selfless generosity, which makes this happen.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude for your valuable support and faithfulness. We could not do any of it without you. Your sponsorship is not only helping seniors and their households but also a community at large. Thank you so much for being part of Beyenech’s smile and joy. May God bless you abundantly for all your contributions towards seniors in Ethiopia living dignified and fulfilled lives.

After repair

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Mat. 25:35-36

The role of a Grandmother should never be despised!

Grandmothers of today can be described as a new generation of “Superwomen”. We are inspired by the determination, the desire and courage of our widowed Grandma Jariat. At over 75 years of age, she proves to us over and over again that age should never stop you from doing what you love.

After losing her husband to war many years ago, Jariat struggled to raise her 9 children. Unfortunately, 8 of them died along the way and has only 1 surviving child. Throughout her life, Jariat has always been enterprising and resourceful. For years, she sold sugarcane and whatever edible thing she could grow in her garden. This helped provide her family’s every day needs. As she grew older, she became overwhelmed and paused her business.

When Jariat joined the ROTOM Senior Friendship Program four years ago, her desire was to revive her business again. Fortunately, with support from her ROTOM Support Friend, Jariat was able to open up a small kiosk at her home where she now sells foodstuffs and firewood in her front yard.

Jariat says, “I have found a wonderful family through ROTOM. I appreciate ROTOM for helping me get back on my feet. My support friend helped me build a kiosk where I earn some income. I am now able to meet basic household needs for myself and my grandchildren”.

Grandma Jariat is an incredible inspiration and gives us a new appreciation for the roles that grandmothers play in our families and communities.

We hope that society can be more attentive and sensitive to the roles of older persons today.

You make us proud Jariat!

By Kenneth Mugayehwenkyi

Granny Safina’s story

Granny Safina shared her story with ROTOM staff during a Journey for Change trip to Uganda. A small woman, yet big in personality, she greets each member of the team with a big smile and a warm hug; dressed in a traditional, pale yellow dress with bold floral print, and cropped gray hair, this spirited grandmother reflects on how when first introduced to ROTOM she had just recently been thrown out of a rental with all her belongings. It was not the first time this had happened and too often her things would be stolen or lost before she could find another place to rent. Her hands gesture in frustration as she explains how her children grew up and moved far away, offering no support and leaving her to fend for herself. She firmly states that if it was not for ROTOM, no one would care what happened to her. She expressed deep gratitude for her relationship with ROTOM staff and sponsors and of how she has grown to believe she can really trust their concern for her.

Granny Safina also eagerly reports how being involved when ROTOM has allowed her to receive medical treatment when she is sick, and she is able to get well quicker. She says they even offer counseling so that the seniors have a chance to process their challenges.

On the day of the interview, Granny Safina is proud and excited to share her home with the ROTOM staff. She tells how ROTOM helped to build her a simple home and how just seeing the pile of bricks gave her so much hope. How wonderful it is, she says to sleep in peace, not worrying about being kicked out with her few personal possessions. “If it was not for ROTOM, I think I would be wandering or dead,” Granny Safina says frankly, but instead “I have a home and I am happy. I pray for them.”

Granny Safina was a recipient of funds donated to the ROTOM Home Safety and Security Impact Fund. These funds specifically help senior adults repair their homes, build new ones if needed, create safe cooking spaces and provide solar lights. For more information on how you can make a difference in the life of a senior adult in Uganda or Ethiopia or to donate to one of our special impact funds go to the  “Get Involved” tab in the menu bar.

By River Outlaw