SOSENA DEMISSIE - ETHIOPIA
In rural Ethiopia, girls must leave home and move to nearby towns to attend high school. Most of the girls rent rooms with friends. Their gender and status often make them vulnerable to different types of violence, forcing them to return home and end their education. In the worst cases, because of economic problems and lack of counseling, they experience prostitution and unwanted pregnancies.
To provide a safe and supportive environment where girls can pursue their education and training, Sosena Demissie envisions low-cost hostels that can be run by local women’s associations in these rural towns. The hostels can also provide counseling services for health and reproductive issues, including HIV/AIDS, as well as income-generating activities to help pay the girls’ expenses while they are there and to help prepare them for employment when their education is complete. Sosena has no doubt that providing such services in a safe, supportive environment “will change the girls forever by enabling them to continue their education and empowering them to attain better lives.”
Sosena speaks from experience. She has served as a board member of the YWCA of Ethiopia, which strives “to improve the status of women and girls through skills and leadership training, promoting income-generating activities, and advocating for the fundamental freedom and rights of women.” In addition, she spearheaded establishment of the Goh Library and Information Center, where women and girls can read and study. Sosena also consults with rural communities about appropriate programs for their children.
Vision: Building Youth Hostels as a Portal to Education and Training to Improve Women’s Health and Livelihood