Shop the Mothers Cooperative and Feed a Family.

Shop the Mothers Cooperative and Feed a Family.

The Fresh and Green Mothers Cooperative has been expanding and the quality of their items is top notch!

Eighty-one women in the neighborhood of Kotebe in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, have changed their lives by joining the Mothers Cooperative. The women not only create beautiful hand made items at Fresh and Green Academy’s onsite crafting area, help cook the meals for the children and help out at the school, but they have established true friendships and help each other through the tough times.

The women of the cooperative used to spend their days begging and prostituting themselves just to eat and feed their families, but now, thanks to your purchases and donations, they have hope for the future and have become empowered beyond belief.

The scarfs made by the women are available now through our Etsy page

Order before December 19th and have a beautiful scarf in time for Christmas!

Fair Trade Tuesday Brings Hope To Our Mothers!

Fair Trade Tuesday Brings Hope To Our Mothers!

Help the mothers of Fresh and Green by buying an item made at the school!

Shop our online store here!

The students’ mothers come to Fresh and Green Academy at least once per week to work in the Mothers Cooperative. You’ll find them working in the newly created looming area weaving colorful scarfs. They can weave four scarfs in a day, knowing every item sold helps them provide food for their families.

You might imagine the moms to be in their late thirties with their solemn, lined faces talking softly among themselves. Looks can be deceiving: most are in their twenties and early 30s, which is middle-aged in Ethiopia. Life expectancy is only 45.Sit and talk with them and you’ll learn some of their stories: most grew up in small villages. In the 1980s, when most of them were children, it was a time of

You might imagine the moms to be in their late thirties with their solemn, lined faces talking softly among themselves. Looks can be deceiving: most are in their twenties and early 30s, which is middle-aged in Ethiopia. Life expectancy is only 45.Sit and talk with them and you’ll learn some of their stories: most grew up in small villages. In the 1980s, when most of them were children, it was a time of

Sit and talk with them and you’ll learn some of their stories: most grew up in small villages. In the 1980s, when most of them were children, it was a time of great famine in Ethiopia. And so they moved to Addis Ababa as soon as they got into their teens, thinking it would be the land of opportunity. But there was no work, or food to be found. Some of them turned to prostitution as the only way of staying alive. Most got pregnant, and most got HIV.

That is one common thread that runs through their lives. But the other commonality is this: Through Fresh and Green they have been given back their dignity: through the weaving and craft sales, they are able to afford food for themselves and their children. Most importantly, the meals they are now able to afford help them qualify for the life-saving anti-retroviral medicine that has turned AIDS from a fatal to a manageable disease.

Muday has held classes in health and hygiene and they have learned how to keep themselves and their families healthy and strong. They have formed a sisterhood of trust and friendship in a city where life can be very unforgiving; in short, they are thriving.

Through Muday’s vision, the entire neighborhood of Kotebe has been transformed. With your help, not just the students, but their mothers have been given this one invaluable thing called hope.

Online Shop Announcement of F&G Mother’s Cooperative

Online Shop Announcement of F&G Mother’s Cooperative

The Friends of Fresh and Green Academy, announces the launch of its brand new online shop called; “Mothers Cooperative”.

This new shop, headed under the brand title “Fashion Feeds Ethiopia” offers its’ visitors the opportunity to buy hand woven items made by members of the “Mothers Cooperative” at the Fresh and Green Academy, (a school for impoverished children in Ethiopia).

Every item sold helps the women provide food for their families.

The women grew up in small villages, in the 1980’s, a time of great famine in Ethiopia. Seeking a better life, most moved to Addis Ababa in their early teens. But there was no work, no food and faced with limited choices, some turned to prostitution as a way of survival. Most got pregnant, and most got HIV.

Through the Fresh and Green Academy they have been given back their dignity via the sales of jewelry and craft items. The money enables the mothers to afford food for themselves and their children. Most importantly, they are now able to qualify for life-saving anti-retro viral medicine that has turned AIDS from a fatal to a manageable disease.

To find out more about Fresh and Greens’ “Mothers Cooperative Shop” be sure go to: http://friendsoffreshandgreen.com/clone/store

Help Us Prevent Human Trafficking

Help Us Prevent Human Trafficking

Re posted from the Friends of Fresh and Green blog  http://friendsoffreshandgreen.blogspot.com/

Since this was written we lost another very bright young student. Goday (pictured here) is the mother of one of our students, who recently went to Beirut to work.  Her daughter, Kalkidan, has gone to the countryside to live with her Grandmother and is no longer attending school.

We work hard to help the mothers earn a livable income by selling their crafts but sometimes do fall short.

With your help we can prevent more children from having to leave the school and deter their mothers from falling prey to the allure of a better life that 8 times out of 10 turns out to be a life of slavery and abuse.

You can help by making a donation directly to the mothers cooperative today.

Thank you.


DonateNow

 

Kalkidan

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2011

Human Trafficking Hits Home
Being an international flight attendant brings me many opportunities. One being my calling in Ethiopia. Another perk of my job is the exposure I have to a multitude of hotel rooms around the world and in those rooms I often watch CNN International. Currently CNN is running a campaign on stopping human trafficking. I have to admit, I was not aware of the many means humans are trafficked. I was under the impression it was mainly women and children being kidnapped and forced into the sex trade. I have learned that it is so much more than that and that some of our mothers in the “Friends of Fresh and Green Mothers Cooperative” have fallen prey to trafficking.We work very hard to sell the Mother’s goods and we send the group, which consists of fifty women, 100% of the money

We work very hard to sell the Mother’s goods and we send the group, which consists of fifty women, 100% of the money made, but it is still not enough for them to feed their children who do not attend Fresh and Green and themselves and pay the $20-$25 a month rent. So a few of them have gone to work in Yemen and other Gulf countries to work as live-in domestic help. They feel this is the only way to provide a better life for their children, who are left behind in Ethiopia.Unfortunately, four such children have had to leave Fresh and Green to stay with family outside the area of the school. These children may not be attending school or eating regularly the way they were while with us.

Unfortunately, four such children have had to leave Fresh and Green to stay with family outside the area of the school. These children may not be attending school or eating regularly the way they were while with us.
The other major issue with these women leaving is the abuse many suffer.

While I was told stories of abuse I thought they were isolated situations, I did not understand how wide spread and severe the situation really is. Human trafficking is hitting very close to home!

If you would like to donate to the Mothers Cooperative visit our website. We will also be featuring some of the items the mothers create on our site very soon.

www.friendsoffreshandgreen.org

Below is an excerpt from a story by Marina de Regt of the Netherlands, that explains the situation well.

Ethiopian women increasingly trafficked to Yemen
by Marina de Regt

Few know about the large numbers of Ethiopian women who migrate to the Middle East to take up domestic work.

“May what happened to me not happen to you,” begins a letter sent to Gebetta, a magazine for Ethiopians in Yemen. Many women have written to Gebetta with testimony of how they were trafficked to Yemen to be employed as domestic workers.They speak of deception, isolation, maltreatment, heavy workloads, unpaid salaries, confiscated passports and physical and psychological abuse. Many regret ever deciding to leave and advise other women not to follow in their footsteps. But the flow of young Ethiopian women desperate to improve their lives and those of their families continues to grow.

They speak of deception, isolation, maltreatment, heavy workloads, unpaid salaries, confiscated passports and physical and psychological abuse. Many regret ever deciding to leave and advise other women not to follow in their footsteps. But the flow of young Ethiopian women desperate to improve their lives and those of their families continues to grow.

Until the early 1990s few Ethiopians – except those of Muslim/Arab origin – were interested in going to the Middle East. After the overthrow of the authoritarian regime of Mengistu Haile Meriam in 1991, Ethiopians were given the right to free movement. Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States have subsequently become major destinations for Ethiopian women in search of a better future.

Even a relatively poor country such as Yemen attracts many female Ethiopian migrants who take up paid domestic work. Changing family structures, the increased educational levels of Yemeni women, the growing number of employed women and changing attitudes towards domestic work explain the increased demand for domestic labour in Yemen.

Socio-cultural constraints prevent Yemeni women from working as domestics – so migrant women meet the demand. Wealthier Yemenis prefer to employ Asian women but middle-class families predominantly employ Ethiopians because they are available and seen as good domestic workers. Somali refugee women also work as domestics but, unlike Ethiopians, do not generally ‘live in’.

Many Ethiopian women come to Yemen on tourist visas and find work via relatives and friends. Those illegally recruited by agents and employed on a contract basis are particularly vulnerable. All of the many recruitment agencies that arrange Ethiopian women’s employment as domestic workers to the Middle East are non-registered, they can be considered traffickers.

Women are approached by the traffickers themselves or are introduced to traffickers through friends, neighbours and relatives. Trafficked women themselves are sometimes even involved in recruiting other migrants. Traffickers are often either of mixed descent – having a Yemeni father and an Ethiopian mother ­– or areYemenis born or brought up in Ethiopia. The Yemeni authorities lack the capacity to control the activities of illegal recruitment agents and it is often the case that traffickers are able to use influence with people in power to ensure that any legal actions against them are halted.

Women who have borrowed money from the agent or broker may end up in debt bondage, required to work long periods before they are able to pay off their debts. Many women have great difficulty leaving their employers and agents and physical abuse is common. Employers and agents often confiscate the women’s passports and forbid them to leave their place of employment unaccompanied.

This makes it impossible for women to look for better jobs, to escape or to have contact with other Ethiopians. Trafficked women may, however, become aware of their rights and decide to run away and find better jobs. Some families therefore prefer to employ young rural Ethiopian women as they are thought to be more malleable and less likely to leave. As a result, traffickers in Ethiopia are purposely recruiting young uneducated women from poor families in rural areas, convincing them with stories about high salaries and educational opportunities.

Please spread the word, tweet and post to your Face Book page. We can not ignore what happens to our fellow humans, we are more connected than we realize.

Almaz’s Story of Hope, Fate and Personal Independence

Almaz’s Story of Hope, Fate and Personal Independence

Like many of the mothers in the Cooperative, Almaz left her small village of Zebich for a better life in Addis. She was only 16 years old and grateful for her luck when she found work as a housekeeper for a wealthy man and his family.

However, being hired as a housekeeper did not afford Almaz the independence and opportunity she had hoped, and unfortunately there are many women who still share Almaz’s fate: there are households in Addis where “employee” equals “slave.” Life is lived at the whim of the man who owns you.

For three years Almaz’s employer raped her whenever he wanted. And Almaz became pregnant. When she told him, he fired her.

That was eight years ago. When her daughter Tehetena was born, she kept them both alive by begging on the streets. And the neighborhood grapevine brought them to Fresh and Green, where Muday took them in.

Almaz works at the Mother’s Cooperative and Tehetena is a third grader with a beautiful spirit and a smile that is both shy and frequent. Tehetena and Workay’s daughter Bezewit are best friends, and so the friendship developed between their mothers.

When Workay became too ill to work, Almaz took over the task of feeding her. In the Mother’s Cooperative, they are true sisters and one more example of the miracle that is Fresh and Green.

The Mothers’ Cooperative is not funded through the student sponsorship program. We are able to fund it only through the sales of the crafts the mother’s make, and things that are donated to us that we bring to Africa for them to sell at their store.

We have also opened an online shop if you would like to purchase some of their items, with all the proceeds going to the coop.  If you are interested in finding out more about donation opportunities for the mothers, please drop us an email or contact Trish Hack-Rubinstein at  1.646.567.7672.

Workay’s Story Of Her Life In The “City Of Opportunity”

Workay’s Story Of Her Life In The “City Of Opportunity”

Workay was born 35 years ago in the village of Gatu, about 260 km from Addis Ababa. She only has use of one of her legs, the other was crippled in childhood, most likely by polio. There’s no way to know, of course. Workay can’t remember a life where she could walk.

The Great Famine of 1984-1985 would have swept through Gatu when Workay was nine or ten years old. Eight million Ethiopians were affected, one million died. Workay had a daughter named Adist sometime in her middle teens.

Although the famine passed, life in Gatu became more and more difficult. Workay came to Addis, the “city of opportunity” when she was 24 years old to earn a living for them both by the only means she felt she could: as a prostitute. And so she became sick with the illness that, at the time, had only one name: aminmina, the “slim disease.” Later on it would come to be known as human immunodeficiency virus, HIV.

Six years ago she had another daughter, Bazawit. She doesn’t know who Bazawit’s father was, but she does know that Bazawit does not have HIV. That’s one blessing she’s thankful for every day.

The other is Fresh and Green. Muday heard about Workay and Bazawit from neighborhood friends and invited them into the Fresh and Green “family.” Bazawit started school and is now a thriving first-grader.

Workay joined the Mothers’ Cooperative, and crocheted shawls that were sold at the store. She earned enough to feed herself and afford rent in a small apartment in the neighborhood. Most importantly, her guaranteed nutrition ensured she could receive the antiretroviral (ARV) medication that saved her life.

Unfortunately, Workay’s HIV was fairly advanced before she started on the ARVs. During our visit, Muday took us to visit her. When volunteers are in town, Muday will “suggest” a vist when someone is in need. In December 2009, Workay became too ill to continue to work at the Mothers’ Cooperative. During the first week of April 2010, Workay went blind.

We walked, thorugh a torrential downpour, about half a mile from the school to Workay’s and Bazawit’s apartment. It’s a very small room painted a cheery lime green, with one electric lightbulb, a bed and a chair. A large poster of the Blessed Mother watches over Workay’s bed.

There were eleven of us that day: six volunteers, Muday, Workay and Bazawit, and Workay’s friend Alamsai, and her daughter Titthena. Alamsai has been keeping Workay alive, bringing food every day – an almost unimaginable sacrifice in a city where food is so scarce. Such is the sisterhood that exists between the mothers in the cooperative.

Between the six Americans, we had several hundred bir that we were able to give Workay. One hundred bir is around seven dollars. And yet, it was enough to buy food for the next several months.

Between the six Americans, we had several hundred bir that we were able to give Workay. One hundred bir is around seven dollars. And yet, it was enough to buy food for the next several months.

Workay shed tears of joy. Not for herself, but for her daughters and her friend Alamsai. All she wants is for her daughters to have a better life than she had. And there is some good news: vision has returned to one of her eyes.

Although she is bed-ridden, she no longer has to work as a prostitute. And Alamsai has money to bring her food, at least for the time being.

The Mothers’ Cooperative is not funded through the student sponsorship program. We are able to fund it only through the sales of the crafts the mothers make, and things that are donated to us that we bring to Africa for them to sell at their store.

We hope someday to be able to sell their wonderful jewelry online, but in the meantime, if you are interested in finding out more about donation opportunities for the mothers, please drop us an email or contact Trish Hack-Rubinstein at (01) 646.567.7672.