Bayush’s way towards her own boutique

Bayush Negussie’s fate seemed sealed:

She was married when she was 15 years old, it was not long before the first child was born and six more followed. Bayush led the exemplary life of a woman in rural Ethiopia. “I used to sell spices and take care of the household and children. We didn’t have our own land, but fortunately my husband found work in a Menschen für Menschen nursery.”

 

Widow, seven children, no land

But in 2001 her husband dies. Bayush is a widow now, responsible for seven children, and without land, with little prospect of a satisfactory income. “But I’m a fighter, and I have always been interested in trade,” Bayush talks about the most important decision in her life.

 

A new beginning thanks to Menschen für Menschen

Only one year after her husband’s death she completed a Menschen für Menschen sewing course. “I was one of the first women to attend the course. In this area it’s unusual for women to sew, it’s always been men’s work.“ Bayush remembers the difficult start: “it was very helpful that we set up a cooperative following the course. All of us were very talented women, and together we could put our business into operation much better and motivate and support each other.” When they started their small business in Alem Katema 13 years ago they were six women. In the beginning, they sewed clothes for themselves, then for friends and family. Step by step their customer base grew because, and of this Bayush is certain, quality always wins. “We had the best training. Customers noticed this of course, which is why our business is doing better than that of the men.”

 

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From widow to teacher and business woman

In the meantime, only one of the six original members of the cooperative has left. But Bayush does not need to worry about trainees. Ejigayehu Ayele has been working with the pioneers for four years. The 30-year-old was trained by Bayush herself, and is just as good as the master craftswoman when it comes to quality. Bayush, in turn, has made a dream come true two years ago and opened a small boutique in the town where she also sells her own creations: “Someday I want to put my main focus on the boutique,” says Bayush about her plans for the future.

 

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Despite all of this personal success Bayush has had as a seamstress, one experience stands out. The energetic woman could give all of her children access to education, and more than that: most of them went to university and are successful in their fields. One can sense the mother’s pride when she talks about her son who even got a scholarship in London. “I only attended school up to grade 7. But my training as a seamstress is as good as a university education.” This is how Bayush describes the continuing influence the sewing course has had on her and her children.

 

A success story made in Merhabete

The project work in Merhabete was completed in 2009. In early 2015 the consulting organisation FAKT performed an evaluation to find out how sustainable the work of Menschen für Menschen is. Find the result of the study here.