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We follow in their footsteps- Ethiopia

Mrs. Berhane Daba courtesy of www.gates.org

Mrs. Berhane Daba courtesy of www.gates.org

Each week in our follow in their footsteps series, we are featuring a strong woman from one of the Strong Women, Strong World countries.  Today we are focusing on Ethiopia.

Berhane Daba was a young girl living in an Ethiopian village without electricity or water when she was diagnosed with polio at approximately the age of four.  Without the ability to walk, her parents saw her as a loss of income.  Her grandmother saw her as cursed.  Her village saw her as different- she did not attend school or play with the other children.

While Berhane was still young, her mother passed away.  It was difficult for her father to care for her and her two brothers so she was sent to a rehabilitation center.  She learned how to walk with the use of aids and missionaries sponsored her education.  Even though she did well in school, people still looked at her differently and even her family members thought that she would not be able to go far with her education.  This made her even more determined.

After completing an education in Secretarial Sciences, she began to look for work.  One of the first things she realized was that even with exceptional grades and doing well on exams, people at interviews still looked at her as if she could not do the job.

Realizing the strong stereotypes about people with disabilities, especially women and girls, Berhane Daba formed the Ethiopian Women with Disability National Association (EWDNA).  Through this organization she has been able to shine a light on people with disabilities.  “Though everyone gave up on her when she was a child, she has been able to achieve more than her older brothers.”

Berhane’s advice to young women growing up in Ethiopia:

Develop the habit of reading and keep yourselves updated with advances in technology.  As girls, you need to become independent and you need to educate yourself through reading.  Reading books is very important.   Set your priorities straight and focus on self-development rather than trivial things that are not lasting. Develop self-confidence and set your own goals.  Lead a purposeful life and be willing to make sacrifices to reach your goal.

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