Selam! Your Summer Newsletter 2023

1 February 2023

Ethiopiaid Australia latest news divider

Hear from a 65-year-old Traditional Birth Attendant, find out how your Christmas gifts are addressing the surge in child marriage, see how veggie seeds can change the lives of single mothers... and much more!

In this newsletter:

  • The difference you're making: Introducing Toba
  • Your impact starts now! How your Christmas gifts are addressing the child marriage surges
  • From Valerie Browning: What works and why in Afar
  • A tale of five veggie seeds
  • Your greatest hits from 2022

To continue your incredible impact and help more people in need, click here to give a gift >


Selam! Ethiopiaid Australia summer newsletter 2023


The difference you’re making

Introducing Toba. Once a practitioner of female genital mutilation (FGM), now a fierce advocate against it – this is the difference you’re making.

For 28 years, Toba performed female circumcision on baby girls. She believed she was serving the interest of God.

When our project partners, the Afar Pastoralist Development Association (APDA) came to Toba’s remote hometown in Afar, she decided to train as a Traditional Birth Attendant in their 7-day course.  

Initially, she just wanted to learn how to deliver babies safely. But, after hearing that FGM was not required by God and that it posed lifelong dangers to women and girls, she was totally and utterly against it.

At 65 years old, Toba continues her work as a Traditional Birth Attendant. Not only does she help women to deliver their baby safely, but she also protects the newborn from circumcision and fiercely advocates for its end in her community.

Here’s to women like Toba who have the strength to stand up for what’s right – and here’s to you for standing alongside them.

65-year-old Traditional Birth Attendant from rural Afar, Ethiopia
Once a practitioner of FGM, 65-year-old Toba is now a fierce advocate against this - this is the difference you're making.


Your impact this New Year – starts now!

Following back-to-back drought, floods and conflict, cases of child marriage had increased by 239% between 2021 and 2022.

We needed to act fast to stop the surge and prevent more girls from experiencing this horror in 2023. To all the big-hearted people across Australia who heard our plea and pitched in to stop the surge in child marriage – thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Here’s how your Christmas gifts are being put to work:

  • Training x50 Women Extension Workers in a 20-day course to protect & advance women’s rights & wellbeing
  • Pay a living wage to x50 existing Women Extension Workers so they can keep doing their work in rural communities
  • Training x100 youth in a 5-day young leader workshop
  • Training x250 Traditional Birth Attendants to help rural women give birth safely & protect newborns from female genital mutilation
  • Training x10 literacy teachers in a 45-day course & equip them with basic supplies (blackboard, stationery, register book)
  • Sending x100 clan leaders to conferences about the dangers of traditions like female genital & child marriage and how to identify & prevent this in their communities
Group of Afar women training as Traditional Birth Attendants through project partners the Afar Pastoralist Development Association
Group of women training Traditional Birth Attendants to help women give birth safely & protect newborns from dangerous traditions.


From Valerie Browning: What works and why

Long-time project partner, Valerie Browning (Co-Founder of the Afar Pastoralist Development Association) explains the scope of work that’s needed to create positive, lasting change in the region of Afar where she operates:

“What seems to work in Afar is the combination of using all possible stakeholders, each with their instrument to support change...
...The literacy teacher opening up the illiterate brain,
...the Traditional Birth Attendant who sees that harmful traditions are literally killing the mother,
...the religious leader who is supported to stop these practices knowing they’re not required in the Qur’an,
...Women Extension Workers being the service providers in all aspects of female need (reproductive, stopping harmful practices, counselling, safe marriage and pregnancy),
...and finally the youth with the directive for their future.”

It’s only by involving the community at multiple touchpoints that we can put an end to traditions that are as ingrained and far-reaching as female genital mutilation and child marriage.

Every time you make the generous decision to donate, you make this possible. Thank you.

Valerie Browning, Co-Founder of the Afar Pastoralist Development Association
Project partner Valerie Browning.


A tale of five veggie seeds

You may not think that cabbage, carrot, lettuce, beetroot and spinach have the power to change someone’s life – but they do and they did, thanks to you.

You see, these were the five veggie seeds that single mother Habtam received as part of her agricultural training with our women's empowerment project partners, Yenege Tesfa.

A few years earlier, when Habtam's husband passed away, she and her children were left in strife. Habtam wasn't able to tend the farm and look after their two children on her own.

That's when our project partners stepped in. They invited Habtam to their "women's livelihood training" where she learnt how to tend her land, how to grow and harvest vegetables, and how to sell her surplus at market to earn income. 

Within three months, Habtam had harvested her first crop. Most went to feeding her family but, with the remaining, she earned 1,102 Ethiopian Birr (AUD $30) from the local markets. Even after taking care of school supplies and household items, Habtam was able to open her first bank account and put 400 Birr into savings (AUD $11).

Habtam was so inspired with her progress. She said this was the start of better things to come: 

“Our lives have been getting better and better since the start of producing vegetables. My children and I are very happy. We always enjoy visiting our vegetable garden and remembering the good things it brings us."

So, as you go about your day today, please remember how much good can come out of something as simple as veggie seeds, and how much of a difference you're making for women and children in need in our world.

Women undertaking livelihood training through partners Yenege Tesfa
Group of single or widowed mothers undertaking "women's livelihood training" so they can support their families.


Your greatest hits

With 2022 done and dusted, here are the top 10 highlights you’ve helped make possible this past year.


360 Safe Motherhood Ambassadors

trained to prevent fistula in rural communities


917 safe births

facilitated at home or in hospital in rural Afar


101 fistula surgeries

or pelvic floor surgeries performed at Gondar Fistula Hospital


178 fistula survivors

learnt new skills to generate income & re-enter their communities


613 rural students

undertook literacy lessons in Afar


24 doctors & nurses trained

in palliative care – the first ever in the southern region of Hawassa


72 terminally ill patients

provided palliative care in Hawassa


18 Women Extension Workers & 85 Traditional Birth Attendants

undertook refresher training to stop female genital mutilation & child marriage in Afar


15 single mothers trained

in how to grow, harvest and sell their own crops


10 local market cooperatives, 5 riverside farming sites & 7 hectares

for horticultural training set up or supported to help disaster-stricken communities in Afar



Would you like to continue your impact and reach more people in need?

Give a gift today >


THANK YOU from Ethiopiaid Australia