In Ethiopia, like many other areas of the world, there is a prominent stigma around HIV. Women who test positive are shunned from their communities and sent to a lake district; they are told that swimming in a lake will cure them. When it doesn’t, they are left to beg on the streets.
Many of the artisans we partner with in Ethiopia have suffered this exact fate. Luckily, they found a cooperative that provides them opportunity to change their lives and the lives of their children. Artisans in Ethiopia work with metal that has been melted and turned into beautiful beads. Much of this metal is from old bullet casings from former wars.
Amleset’s Story is best told in her own words:
“My family and I used to live in the city. We heard on TV about HIV. My husband was sick a lot so he decided to get tested. He found out he was positive, and so I got tested. I was positive as well. Our children were scared to go to school because of the stigma so we sold everything and moved to Entoto where there is no discrimination. Almost everyone hereis living with HIV/AIDS, which makes us feel less outcast. I used to beg on the mountain. I stayed there for the holy water. My life was very bad, begging is like being dead. My husband started to help at the cooperative and he introduced me to them. I am so thankful for the opportunity. In the beginning I was frustrated because it was very complicated making jewelry. Now I am happy when I come to work. My heart and eyes are open. My life has been changed because of this program. Now you can go to my home and there is food there. Thinking about this makes me want to cry. I know God helped you to help me and now I am changed.”