Trash to cash

When it is said ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul,’ it is not just to say it; but with good reasons. Even though she did not express it in words, it is not difficult to understand the challenges she had experienced; and the toughest times she had gone through in life. Without words, but by just looking into her eyes, one can discern the backbreaking weight she used to carry each day to backing her own and children’s daily life. Her calm tone voice, eyes as well as her reactions are full of expressions and speak out a lot about her status.

Likenesh Getu, being the sole breadwinner of the family, used to labor indefatigably to improve the lives of her own three children and a grandchild; whose mother passed away some years ago. She will do what she can to generate income and meet their needs. She washes peoples’ clothes, cleans houses and carries out similar tiring tasks.

Sadly enough, no matter how hard she tried, she could not earn what she had wanted; and meet the needs of the family. Her life was always in a precarious situation.

More than once, Likenesh had experienced the most distressing and painful moments; especially when she had nothing to feed the family.

However, thanks to ‘Ande Mamma Manufacturing Company’, a local NGO, organized to empower women; her arduous tasks have lessened to some extent. The income she is receiving from the Company on a monthly basis has minimized the burden she was overloaded for long; and has given her some relief.

Pleasing with this, and anticipating the positive impact the job may bring about on the lives of her family in the future, she is engaged in collecting paper waste that would be used as input to produce handmade paper items from different offices. As luck would have it, one of her sons has also gotten the opportunity to work on the organization.

“Ande Mamma is an organization established by five visionary young Ethiopians with the aim of improving the livelihoods of poor women through building their skills and capabilities and engaging them in income generating activities,” said Mekdes Teshome, one of the founders of the organization.

The project known as “Mother’s Love”, works targeting on supporting poor mothers through creating job opportunities and enabling them earn a living that would help their children to live a better life.

Simultaneously, the women could reduce the environmental impacts associated with paper wastes; and preserve soil fertility by collecting paper wastes that would be thrown out into garbage recklessly or burned irresponsibly.

According to Mekdes, paper waste is one of the severe problems in many workplaces. Most institutions throw papers without considering the possible consequences the wastes could bring about in the environment.

However, if it is possible to reduce paper waste in the workplace – by collecting responsibly and reusing it as raw material for different purposes instead of dumping or burning simply – we can reduce the undesirable impacts the wastes may cause on the environment.

In view of this, the organization works targeting two important undertakings – to solve the challenges of those mothers living in poverty; and to protect the environment. By collecting paper wastes and reusing them, they assist mothers to generate their own income, and ward off the harm the wastes may cause on humans and the environment.

As she stated; the project has created jobs for 63 mothers. And, when it comes fully operational and boosts up its capacity, it intends to collect 20 thousand tons of paper and newspaper wastes and embrace 1050 mothers. In addition, it aims to hire 500 unemployed youths; and 100 additional cleaners who would collect paper wastes.

If mothers are supported; they have the ability to influence and bring about substantial change within a society aside from improving the lives of a single family. The project has also a firm stand in women’s potential in bringing change. Hence, it works on focusing on poor segments of the society, and to scale up their exemplariness, she remarked.

While talking about the criteria how those women currently working in the project were selected, Mekdes said that the project aims at supporting employment and income-generation programs for low-income women, lessening their economic burden and promoting pro-poor growth. In view of this, mothers who are appeared to be poor and their economic deprivation is confirmed by authorities of their respective sub cities plus institutions would be employed.

Some of the mothers collect paper wastes from different organizations and others produce a variety of items commonly used for office and house purposes such as laundry baskets, paper trays, office pen and pencil cases, and handbags among others. The job, aside from generating income, builds mothers’ self-confidence and self-acceptance.

The other way around, mothers who cannot involve in the aforementioned activities due to health or age related challenges simply assisted by the organization, she added.

Mentioning some of government and nongovernmental organizations that are working in partner with Ande Mamma, she called on other institutions to support the project by simply handing over the paper wastes which they throw off; burn out or accumulate in their stores.

“If institutions collaborate and give us the paper wastes which are kept in bulk; and cause severe health risks, it will be possible to create more jobs and encompass added mothers.”

‘Mother’s Love’ is a project that allows mothers to work from their home; build on their potential and earn their living. It is also a project that envisions adding some impetus to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and striving to move the country forward; said Efratus Adane the other founder and President of the Organization.

As to him, most of SDGs targets, such as poverty reduction, job creation and economic growth, sustaining gender equality and creating regional integration among others are incorporated in organization’s missions. Thus, the project can add energy to the desired change.

Efratus, technology and Innovation Expert, said that in an effort exerted to reduce the level of poverty, supporting low-income segment of the people is very decisive. To this effect, the organization is working to support low-income mothers through engaging them in income generating activities. This, in one way or another, supports the job creation targets of the SDGs.

Pointing out that the project has an aspiration of backing country’s development ambitions; he urged institutions to stand by the side of them and support them, especially through backing them with scrap papers.

Messay Zewdu is the other mother who came from Yeka Sub City and supported by Ande Mamma project. As a single mom, she had been doing what she can to meet her own and her child basic necessities. And even if she is suffering from a Herniated Disc (slipped disk in the spine), as a single mom, struggling from dusk till dawn and fulfilling their daily needs was a thing she cannot put it off. Struggling with her intractable pain, she had been exerting every effort to put food on their table.

However, these days because her illness is getting worse and paining her severely, she could not execute her daily activities.

It was at this time she joined the project, Mother’s Love; and she is happy for that.

Bertukan Admasu is the other beneficiary of the project. As she uttered expecting to have decent job and improving her life, she had travelled to Beirut. However, as she arrived there, all her dreams turned out to be a nightmare. Nothing was as simple as she had hopped. Finally, she got arrested; jailed and repatriated to homeland.

As the saying goes tough times never last; even after she returned home, she had encountered number of pressing challenges. However, currently, ‘Ande Mamma’ has wiped away her tears.

“Truly, “Ande Mamma’ is like a mother. Aside from building up my capacity, it has shown me the necessary potential I have, and given me the strength to become a successful entrepreneur in the future.

“I am producing various products made from my home in my free time and I am raising my children joining hands with my soul mate. I also perform additional activities in my spare time,” she added.

She also advises other women to seize any opportunity that may come to their way and improve their lives instead of aspiring to travel to Middle East countries.



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