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Birtukan's story

Birtukan's story

From begging to saving 

Birtukan lives in Southern Ethiopia. She’s from a very poor family, and was working as a beggar to feed her children. So when she heard that Tearfund’s local partner Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (EKHC) was helping people financially, she wanted to be part of it. ‘I heard the church was giving out money,’ she says, ‘so I ran to be one of the first in the queue!’

However, the church wasn’t handing out money – they were forming Self-Help Groups. ‘They [the staff] said they would teach us to save, and manage what we have.’

Birtukan joined a group and started by saving some of her begging money each week. After a while her group saw her commitment, and offered her a loan from their savings money. She bought onions and charcoal to sell in the market. Slowly, her business grew.

Birtukan now runs a successful market stall, and has taken and paid back several loans from her group. Her husband used to work far away, but is now able to live with his family and help with the business.

Not only is this family now united and financially stable, their dignity has been restored. ‘People have stopped insulting me,’ says Birtukan. ‘They now respect me, and will touch me, like a proper person.’