I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the chance to change our lives

I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the chance to change our lives

I wanted to give my two young boys the best life I could, but I felt I was failing them. We struggled to pay the rent, moved from place to place. My older son had to leave school. We were so poor. When I felt there was no way out, I was selected for a grant. I couldn’t believe it. I’m not only taking care of the present -- now I can plan for the future. - Sebele, mother of 2 boys, Ethiopia

"Where are we going to keep that sheep?"

I felt like there was no way out
My husband works hard as a labourer but rising rents meant we could not afford water and electricity, and were forced to move from place to place. My older son even had to leave school because I could not pay for his uniform or books. Our neighbours were reluctant to help us, because we were so poor, and because they knew I was HIV+. I wanted to give my two young boys the best life I could, but I felt I was failing them. I would try to get loans to improve our situation, but creditors wanted collateral such as a home, and we were only renters. It felt like there was no way out. Sometimes I would cry.

I couldn’t believe I had been selected
I was at my wit's end. I had gone to the local government before for support and had been turned away. So when I was asked for an interview by JeCCDO and given a small loan and some business training, I was overjoyed. I couldn't believe I had been selected. With the loan, I was able to buy clothes for my sons and sent them to school. It also means that if they got sick, they could visit the doctor.

Where are we going to keep that sheep?
At the same time, the loan allowed me to save up enough over a year to buy a sheep to fatten and sell. At first my husband was sceptical. "Where are we going to keep it?" he asked. "The landlord might be angry and throw us out." But everything turned out well in the end. I sold the sheep for an almost 100% profit. Now my husband is excited about my sheep project and wants to be involved. He has even bought a second sheep for us. Now we hope to buy more, and are looking for a place outside of town to keep our flock.

Now I can plan for the future
I feel so good because now I am independent. After only one year, I am paying back the loan and running my own business. I'm not only taking care of the present -- now I can plan for the future. My youngest who is 3 years old, will start private kindergarten this September. My older son, who is almost 10, is back in school and wants to become a pilot. Before, this seemed like an impossible dream, but now I am saving for them both to attend university. I would also one day like to own my own house. Today, when I see my husband smile as he looks at our sheep, or my son reading his math books in the evening, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the chance to change our lives. A little help makes a big difference. I think everyone should explore opportunities and take risks, instead of living in poverty.

HIV and Livelihoods project
JeCCDO is one of the 9 organisations participating in the Linking and Learning project on HIV and Livelihoods in Ethiopia (2013-2016), initiated by STOP AIDS NOW! (now Aidsfonds). Overall goal of this partnership was to improve the livelihoods of HIV affected and infected people and at-risk groups through improving the quality of HIV and livelihood programmes of the participating organisations.

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