Since 2017, Shegitu has travelled to Ethiopia to launch a center where women in poverty receive vocational training in sewing and baking to get on their feet. Leading a team of women from the U.S., Kebede and her team bring a valuable range of skillsets, partnerships, and a message of hope in order to best meet the needs of these Ethiopian women.
Since opening, Kebede has accomplished raising funds to purchase tables, chairs, sewing machines, irons, cutting boards and additional supplies needed for sewing. For those interested in baking, all ingredients and materials are provided. With electricity being unreliable, backup generators have been purchased. Additionally several clean water filters were supplied. All items distributed come with training and tools to troubleshoot problems along with the encouragement to share the resources with their neighbors. Hundreds of reusable sanitary pads have been allotted to the women as we were fortunate to have a nurse on our team who trained women about heath.
During the first phase of this project, our aim was to determine which of the women had an interest to start a small business. In the summer of 2019, the micro-loaning program in women’s entrepreneurship was launched. Those who submitted an independent business idea received a micro-loan to grow their own business and provide for themselves and their families. Updates on this project will posted.
In addition to the center, Shegitu had a vision of helping kids, like her, who are orphaned. By 2019, four kids have been sponsored with provisions made for their financial needs, education, and temporary housing. The next goal is to raise money to build a home for them and give them a future.
WOMEN AT THE WELL, INT
In 2012, Kebede founded Women at the Well International, a humanitarian organization aiming to improve the livelihood of refugees and bring awareness of the plight of the refugees around the world. Recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Kebede’s dedicated work created compassion in the heart of many and helped sparked real change.
Knowing first hand what it means to be a refugee and orphan, Kebede has dedicated her life to the betterment of the marginalized. Kebede raised funds to support education for refugee children and adults in order to add a renewed hope and confidence in their future.
Providing beds, new sanitary lavatories, constructing separate male and female living quarters, securing safe recreational space for youth, designating land for families to cultivate vegetables, training artisans to produce and sell various leather items, supporting women entrepreneurs in coffee, and goat herding to name a few.
Phase 1: 2012-2013 Stabilize the children's living conditions by providing personal hygiene items, clothing, shoes, bunk beds, bed sheets, and school materials.
Phase 2: 2014-2017 Built a school, gender specified dormitories, and a multipurpose room. Expanded our work from one refugee camp to four. In including refugee camps with adults and families, we are created opportunities for hands-on work. Whether young or old, our mission was to utilize the years spent in camps to equip refugees with the skills necessary to support themselves so that, no matter the context, they have a smoother transition after resettlement.
Phase 3: 2017-2018 Pass the baton onto on-the-ground organizations sustain programming and assess needs on a continual basis.