When I was a young single mom, the month of August was always a struggle. That’s when I had to get my kid school supplies. I couldn’t afford to get her a whole new wardrobe like some of her schoolmates got because my salary hovered around the U.S. poverty line at the time. But somehow we managed. She always (well, usually) started school with everything she needed.
The truth is my income, though low by American standards, was exponentially higher than that of most families in the developing world. And those families usually have more than one child! So my heart goes out to truly impoverished parents, especially struggling single moms, who desperately want their children to go to school but literally cannot afford the shoes for them to get there—much less the supplies, fees, or uniforms required to attend.
By raising sheep, marginalized women not only produce wool to sell at the market, but they have a steady supply of nutritious milk for their children, and they can afford to enroll their children in school.
That’s why I appreciate the project in Ethiopia that helps poor, marginalized women learn new ways to generate income. With the help of the Daughters of Charity, single moms learn to raise sheep for wool and milk, farm food to sell in the market, or run a small enterprise such as shoemaking. The sisters teach them business know-how that incorporates HIV-awareness training as well as counseling to address abuse and other issues that keep them emotionally bound in poverty. In less than a year these women are able to experience a rise in their income. And the first thing these moms do with their ‘extra’ earnings is enroll their children in school!