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Working Together to Empower Women in Ethiopia

A shared interest in sustainable livelihoods and climate-smart interventions led two Integral Members to collaborate in Ethiopia. Although based on opposite sides of the world, CEDAR Fund (Hong Kong) and Tearfund Ireland are sharing capacity and resources to support real change in local communities in Ethiopia. Rebecca Lee, a Senior Programme Officer with CEDAR Fund, tells us more …

Members of the Boditi Self Help Group in Ethiopia
© Tearfund Ireland / Gavin Leane

Please tell us about the project

This project seeks to address chronic poverty and food insecurity made worse by climate change, and the lack of local capacity to support vulnerable groups and households in communities. The main goals are to see communities thrive through women’s economic empowerment, improved climate resilient livelihoods and the engagement of Civil Society Organisations. We also want to enable the local church to mobilise their own resources to engage in identifying and meeting the needs of those who are vulnerable within their community.

What support do you receive from Tearfund Ireland?

CEDAR Fund, based in Hong Kong, benefits from the support provided by the Tearfund Ireland team based in Addis Ababa. This includes regular monitoring visits and identifying and meeting capacity building needs of local Partners. Tearfund Ireland also coordinates communication and reporting between local Partners and CEDAR Fund.

Tearfund Ireland also benefitted from this collaboration. With the support from CEDAR Fund, Tearfund Ireland reached the co-funding amount required to obtain a grant from the Irish Government for this project.

Do you have any stories of hope connected to the project?

On a recent visit to our local Partner, I learned how two local churches have changed their ministry. Before practicing skills introduced by Tearfund Ireland (Umoja, a church and community mobilisation model) and CEDAR Fund (SALT, which promotes effective engagement with vulnerable households), these two churches only supported the needs of their congregations. Now they believe that a church should be opened to all in their community and so have formed a committee to coordinate their support. They have developed an annual plan to identify and meet the needs of vulnerable households regardless of church membership and religious background of the household.

Also, during the visit, I was impressed by one of the cases that I learned about from one of the participating churches. Potters and blacksmiths are often socially excluded, even by people of their own ethnic groups. A potter, who lives in the community, had a piece of land taken by her neighbour. The church talked to the neighbour and helped the potter claim back her land. This case vividly shows that the church is practicing the Bible’s teaching – reaching out and befriending people who are socially excluded, challenging unjust behaviours, voicing and seeking justice for the oppressed.

What do you find inspiring about Integral?

We work better when we are connected to a wider Christian community! CEDAR Fund is a small organisation based in Asia with limited resources and reach (it’s more difficult for us to reach areas outside Asia). Gaps can be bridged when we work with peers a wider Christian community.

It was through the Integral meetings and communications that CEDAR Fund identified a common interest with Tearfund Ireland in Ethiopia. We are both committed to facilitate sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable groups, especially women, in Ethiopia through climate-smart interventions.

It is very much our experience that through Integral better mutual understanding promotes collaboration and better results. Being fellow Integral Members both Tearfund Ireland and CEDAR Fund are confident that collaboration, mutual learning and sharing of resources are encouraged and welcomed. When we do this (like introducing Umoja and SALT and encouraging local Partners to adopt them), we and our shared Partner see how these models complement each other and make an impact to local churches and communities. It is a wonderful example of achieving more by working together!