A few months ago I read my amazing friend Liz’s recount over at Mom-101 of what it was like to watch her mother run a small clothing label out of her attic when she was growing up. She connected the story (beautifully) to a group of women that she met at the non-profit, FashionABLE while visiting Ethiopia. It’s a place where all the proceeds on the scarves that they create go towards helping the artisans, not only through wages but with medical care, medicine for TB or HIV, counseling, a housing stipend, educational tools and daycare for their children.
She described meeting these women in person and her descriptions were so vivid about these women doing what they need to do to escape poverty. She said that there are 150,000 prostitutes in Adis. And just under 75% of them are HIV positive.
She said, “Can you imagine feeling like that’s the most reasonable choice for your survival? Selling your body for 25 cents? Well now it’s not. When you buy a Saba scarf, you are giving her a better choice.”
Then she told the stories of some of the women she met at the factory. Saba. Mulu. Women who have stayed out of commercial sex work by working at FashionABLE.
And then she showed pictures of the women she met at work producing these very beautiful scarves. Smiling. Laughing. Living free of fear.
My heart fell to the floor and I ran to their web site and purchased three scarves. When they arrived, they each had a personally signed note that reminded me that my support was allowing them to be free. That was an empowering feeling, one that I have carried with my every time I wear the scarves, which is just about daily.
That’s why I’m thrilled to tell you about the creation of a new ONE fashionABLE scarf produced for Mother’s Day. It’s pictured above and it’s beautiful.
It was created by fashionABLE designer Genet who describes her connection and need for her work: “I don’t remember my birth mother, and I don’t know my birthday or actual age, so the timeline of my story is based on my best guess . I was brought from the countryside into the city of Addis at age 3 by an aunt who promised my family I would be sent to school and have a “better life .” Instead, I was groomed to be a housemaid and given so many responsibilities that the load of work become impossible and overwhelming . By age 12, I ran away and began living on thestreet . I felt lost and I was continually raped . Eventually, I became pregnant . With a baby at 15, I learned to have sex for money so I could support her. I coped with life through drinking, drugs and smoking . I recently learned about this program and am enrolled in counseling to work through my addictions, my childhood trauma, and learn ways to reconnect with my now 6-year-old daughter. I am also working at fashionABLE and grateful to have a job that provides dignity.”
Here she is with her daughter.
Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this post and I purchased the 3 scarves with my own money.