The girls are responsible for gathering firewood in the Ethiopian villages, either for use at home or to sell at market. It’s backbreaking labor, and each time we passed a young woman hauling wood there’d be audible gasps of sympathy from all of us.
So I was thrilled when Marijke–who has been to Ethiopia six or seven times–told us about The Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers Association. It’s a cooperative of women who have damaged their hips from years of carrying heavy loads. They live together and weave scarves and baskets to sell. It was heartwarming to enter the room filled with looms where each woman was creating varied and unique scarves.
Other women were outside in the compound weaving baskets, and yet another was washing dishes. When we stopped to chat with the women weaving baskets, one of them was delighted when she recognized a scarf she had woven that Marijke had purchased. Her face lit up! I’m glad these women have this association so they can lead happy, productive lives.
There’s another consequence from the girls bearing heavy loads at such a young age. Their bodies don’t fully develop, which creates complications during childbirth. An award-winning documentary, “A Walk to Beautiful“, deals with this subject.