Cross Cultural Journeys is a travel company passionate about understanding indigenous cultures around the world. Through their foundation, they have partnered with GTLI to empower the women of Minogelti kebele 1, Hamer Woreda 2, South Omo Zone (home of 16 ethnic groups) in the SW corner of Ethiopia.
Cross Cultural Journeys became acquainted with our initiatives when their group of adventurers visited GTLI’s remote field camp in February 2014. Several of the explorers became immediate supporters of GTLI’s orphan program and others decided to combine their resources to strengthen and increase the capacity of the Minogelti’s women cooperative – one of the most effective and sustainable methods to build the resiliency of an indigenous community.
Cross Cultural Journeys Foundation and GTLI partnership began in February of 2015 with three goals for the Minogelti Women’s Cooperative:
- increase the productive time of women
- begin changing the cultural norms in favor of female education
- empower the women to advocate for themselves and their community
This project has been transformative for the women and the entire Minogelti community.
A grinding mill that had been installed a few years earlier–to relieve the women of several hours a day grinding grain by hand–had fallen into disrepair and was no longer functional. The Cooperative was unable to locate and engage a mechanic to maintain the mill.
Cross Cultural Journeys Foundation in collaboration with a generous private donor provided the funds to refurbish the mill and train the women to perform preventative maintenance, make minor repairs, and maintain an inventory of spare parts. The women have also learned how to weigh grain properly and record income and expenses daily. The women are now empowered to operate and maintain their grinding mill.
A second significant investment by Cross Cultural Journeys Foundation was facilitating Integrated Functional Vocational Literacy classes (IFVL) for the community. Ten women enrolled and regularly attended, alongside men, to learn basic literacy and numeracy skills. Our IFVL schools include activities that reinforce healthy hygiene and sanitation, reproductive health, and nutrition behaviors. By including exercises that talk about diversifying diets and other skills, IFVL is able to positively influence a family’s nutrition at the same time women are gaining the skills to earn money to purchase food. And when men and women practice joint problem-solving in these activities, their respect for each other increases.
Through their successes in IFVL, cooperative members and their families are now eating eggs daily and earning income by selling them. One cooperative member sold enough eggs to buy a goat! The community is eager to have another IFVL program. This is a shift in favor of gender equality and a concrete demonstration of the benefits of education—the women are directly contributing to family food and household assets.
Another significant outcome for the community is the Cooperative management team is now able to communicate in Amharic, the national language. Coop Chairwoman Gulo Bola is able to use her mobile phone to communicate with government officials and the South Omo Zone Cooperative Union. Since limited officials speak the tribal language, or have the confidence to use a mobile phone, Gulo is able to facilitate logistics for the cooperative and advocate for the entire community. Women Cooperative members are now treated as important community decision makers and advocates.
Cross Cultural Journeys Foundation’s investment in the Minogeti Women’s Cooperative has resulted in recognition nationally, regionally, and locally:
- The government paid for Minogelti Women’s Coop Chair Gulo Bola to participate in the 2015 National Pastoralist Day in Afar (remote NE region of Ethiopia) where she was presented a trophy cup by Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalgn
- The Southern Nations & Nationalities Peoples Region awarded the Cooperative a flat screen TV in appreciation of their accomplishments. Unfortunately, Minogelti does not have electricity so they will auction off the TV in the future!
- South Omo Zone Women Affairs Office acknowledged their pioneering accomplishments with a large trophy cup.
By the numbers
|The number of Women Cooperative members who earned their first profit sharing distribution in August 2016.|
|The number of goats the Cooperative has accumulated to trade for maize and sorghum|
|The coop paid Cooperative Union dues of $225 (5,000 birr) which gives them access to bulk purchasing and transportation, providing them an overall savings of $4,450 (98,000 birr) for products they sell: oil, soap, batteries, tea, biscuits, beads, razor blades, sorghum and maize.|