"At 15, I ran away from home after all of my siblings died from chickenpox and my mother committed suicide. Life was unbearable. I tried to support myself as a housemaid but was unable. Feeling left with no choice, I went with someone, who was a sex worker, to a club where I was put up for auction, and the highest bidder raped me. That was the moment I became trapped in the sex industry. When I heard about Women at Risk, I immediately joined the program." Fekerete's tragic story is, disturbingly, a common one in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – one in nine women here are in the sex industry due to a lack of economic opportunity. These women are sisters, mothers, and often young girls, forced to make a difficult decision simply for the survival of themselves and their families. It takes courage to make such a decision. It also takes courage to make the decision to leave this life and enter rehabilitation programs like Women at Risk.
How can we, an ocean away, help? After hearing this story last summer, Blair, an African Leadership supporter, wondered just that. How can she stand beside the brave women who choose to begin the process of holistic rehabilitation? Such bravery struck a chord with Blair, who had always wanted a pixie haircut but lacked the motivation and commitment to go through with it. So she made a decision: if she could raise $1,200 in one month to support Women at Risk, she’d follow through with the drastic haircut. She called it her “Pixie Project.” One month later, Blair had raised double the amount of her goal and was sitting in a hair salon making good on her promise.
Purpose Projects, like Blair’s Pixie Project, provide a way for us to make a personal connection and be involved, from helping women rediscover their dignity through a new identity in Christ to supporting education fees for orphans. They are also a way for us to find some common ground, challenging our communities to raise funds for something we care about by committing to do something ourselves when the goal is reached – something we’ve always wanted to do but felt fearful, hesitant, or in need of a little push to get started. We’ve seen someone commit to dye their hair pink if they raised enough money to support four women at Women at Risk, someone commit to get a large tattoo if they raised enough money to support four orphans, and a group commit to living on $1.50 a day, the poverty line, for a week if they raised enough money to support the education of four students. While Purpose Projects empower individuals in the States to take a step towards things they’ve always wanted to do, it similarly empowers Africans like Fekerete to begin living the life they always wanted. For Fekerete, that includes opening her own small restaurant, a longtime goal she previously never had a way to put into motion.
"I am so excited to graduate from the Women at Risk program and food preparation training. My dream is to open my own cafe. My son has been so happy during his time in the program, and he is in much better health. God willing, he will begin a new nursery class after I graduate. I give thanks to God for blessing me and giving me new vision for my own cafe."
To put a purpose behind your goal, check out blog.themochaclub.org/purpose-project for ideas, support, and more information on getting started.