Rotary District 5580 Conference in Duluth
Our wonderful Duluth 25 Rotary friends helped two of our star Hamar women, Dobi Oyita and Gulo Bola, travel to Minnesota be surprise guest speakers at the District 5580 Duluth Conference in May. Gulo and Dobi shared stories of their lives and thanked the Rotarians for refurbishing five water wells in BenaTsemay and for supporting the orphans currently under GTLI’s care.
Meeting With Old Friends…
It was a special treat for Gulo and Dobi to meet GTLI’s Minnesota and Wisconsin supporters. We had a lovely gathering at Lori Pappas’ house where the women shared their reflections on the things they had observed during their U.S. travels. They now truly understand the importance of learning and have pledged to become Ambassadors of Education. Dobi amazed the group of friends when she stated, “Before I met you, I only felt responsible for my family and community. Now, I realize that you also are my community, and I return home holding your well-being in my thoughts and in my heart!”
…And New Friends
Minnesota women, eager to learn how to support women on the other side of the world in their quest to feed their families and help their communities, gathered at the Kitchen in the Market in Minneapolis to meet Gulo and Dobe, Hamar women in transition to leadership. Gulo described the determination to learn of the members of the Minogelti Women’s Cooperative and how that has enabled them to sustainably operate their grinding mill and operate their rural trading center.
Gulo reported that, “because we now are the ones who are making life easier for our entire kebele of 4,000 people, the men respect us. I am often asked to participate in decision-making that affects everyone. Previously, no women was ever asked for her opinion.”
Dakota County Technical College
Gulo and Dobi were invited to speak with students and faculty of Dakota County Technical College, hosted by the Multicultural Student Leadership Association. As the women shared their experiences and talked about the GTLI literacy initiatives, the students realized how similar Gulo and Dobi’s goals are to their own despite the differences in their respective environments. Gulo and Dobi shared how learning Amharic, the national language, and gaining basic arithmetic skills instantly elevates the status of a woman. A Hamar woman able to communicate in Amharic and perform basic record-keeping earns the respect of her community.
Lori shared that GTLI initiatives are successful because we pay very close attention to the way people think and the influences of their culture. We make sure that our programming reinforces the desires of the people. During February – April, 2015, 154 adults (83 women and 71 men) graduated from our Integrated Functional Vocational Literacy schools, conducted in eight communities, exceeding expectations.
The sentiment expressed frequently by female IFVL participants: “We are gaining confidence now that we are equal to men because in the former time, men and women never sit together but in the IFVL class, we are all treated as equals. This is making it much easier for us to participate as equals in other community meetings. Plus, we have increased knowledge of different things, which gives us more respect.”