What’s the Hardest Job You’ve Had?
If you have ever had to answer this question as an ice breaker, then you’ve probably got a ready answer. Chances are that you have a job in your history somewhere that you aren’t necessarily proud of. You probably have at least one job that you had to take in a pinch in order to provide for yourself or for your family. I’ve had those kind of jobs in the past that I hated going to because they seemed to suck life out of me or that were in unhealthy conditions. Yet when it came to the end of the day I needed to do what I needed to do in order to provide for my family. I imagine that you’ve found yourself there, too.
However, when I think of even the hardest jobs I have had, none even come close to the job that Serikalelm does in order to provide for herself and her son Sintayehu. As an illiterate young woman whose husband left her alone with a young child, what is one to do? There are no job prospects for someone in this position. There is no welfare system or social services. Moms facing this scenario are left in desperation – and there are thousands of moms here who are faced with this scenario. These are the moms who are in danger of relinquishing their parental rights as they sit on the edge…very vulnerable, exposed and with very little hope of how to make things work for their child.
So, Serikalem started to work. She has a job that not many of us could imagine. Early every morning she walks from Kore down a steep hill following a “goat path” and across a stick bridge and then up the other side of the valley on a quest. Her quest is for rotting bananas that are unable to be sold in other parts of Addis Ababa at fruit stands. These are bananas that are discarded because they are too overripe for customers in most neighborhoods of Addis Ababa. Yet, here in Kore there is a market for them. The poor who live here need cheap bananas as a staple of their diet. Bananas are a super cheap food here because they are locally grown…and the overripe ones are even cheaper. So, Serikalem gets the overripe bananas and hauls them back to Kore where she sells them cheaply to the poor here. She provides an important link in the food chain for the residents of Kore.
But, here comes the interesting part. Until recently she had to make this trip which covers numerous kilometers each day with her 1 1/2 year old son Sintayehu strapped to her back while carrying kilos of bananas in a plastic tub on her head. Up and down the hills. And not to overdramatize this situation, but the flies love rotting bananas. (I’ve seen her empty tub with at least 200 flies I am not exaggerating swarming around it). This is life for Serikalem. This is the job she does to provide for herself and Sintayehu so that they can afford the $6USD per month rent on their one room mud and tin “home.” This is a hard job beyond any that I have ever imagined. This is a mom who goes to the extreme to provide.
For the past month Sintayehu has been coming to the Day Care and Serikalem still makes this trek to gather bananas and sell them. While she is going around the city gathering her livelihood she does it without a 1 1/2 year old strapped to her back. In the meantime Sintayehu gets to socialize with other kids, gets to play, gets nutritious meals (as well as other basic needs), and along the way will receive early childhood education. At first Sintayehu wasn’t sure what to think about not having mom around, but he is adjusting to being around other children his age and is learning to play. He’s an amazing little boy who has an amazing mom. And, best of all he gets to spend each and every night with his Mom!
We dream of a day when Serikalem is able to provide a more sustainable living for herself and Sintayehu. We feel that there is a lot of drive in her that is going to help us to help her in the long run.
Serikalem and Sintayehu are still in need of family sponsors. There are 4 slots available for their family – or if someone is willing to step up and fully sponsor the family that’s awesome. The slots are $34 per month or $136 per month for a full sponsorship. You can follow this link to join in sponsoring them. https://www.embracinghopeethiopia.com/sponsorships/sponsorship-sign-up-form/
And, over this next week as you head off to work – whether its a job you love or you are stuck in that doing whatever it takes right now – would you please remember Serikalem and Sintayehu and pray for this young woman and her son? It means the world of difference in them embracing hope in all of life.