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Chinese funded basketry and stone carving project graduates 50 Ethiopian women


A basketry and stone carving project funded by China Geography Construction Overseas Company Limited (CGCOC) graduated 50 Ethiopian women on Tuesday after a one-year training.

The graduation ceremony held in Aksum, 965 kms north of Addis Ababa also showcased the basketry and stone carving products of the graduates to local and foreign dignitaries.

CGCOC provided 50,000 US dollars grant for the project, which was first identified by China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA), a Chinese non-governmental charitable organization.

The project was executed with the help of Center for Accelerated Women’s Economic Empowerment (CAWEE) a local association and the Office of the First Lady of Ethiopia (OFLE).

Speaking to Xinhua, Huyang Jun, representative for CGCOC, said the funding would help the Ethiopian women be competitive in the age of globalization.

“This isn’t about donating money, money can finish in one day, food will finish in one week, but skill is a lifelong insurance, and we’re partnering with CAWEE and CFPA to give the graduates a lifelong skill” he further said.

Fengwei Liu, Ethiopia Country Representative, CFPA, told Xinhua, her organization has been implementing with the help of various Chinese firms, various projects to help needy Ethiopians.

“With the help of CGCOC we’ll help 100 women in basketry and stone carving projects, 50 women for this just completed project and another 50 women for a similar project which will start in April” she said.

Fengwei also said CFPA has helped undertake 80 water cellar projects in drought prone parts of Oromia and Amhara regional and a school feeding program for 4,000 schoolchildren in Addis Ababa.

Nigest Haile, Executive Director, CAWEE, said with the assistance of CGCOC and CFPA, 50 poor Ethiopian women have gotten the chance to showcase their talents and earn income.

“With this project, 50 Ethiopian women most of whom are mothers have earned the skills to earn income for their family and introduce their products to Ethiopian and foreign customers” said Haile.

The basketry and stone carving products will be sold to gift shops based in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa who will in turn sell it to customers at various places including the Addis Bole International Airport duty free shop and other touristic sites.

While, the basketry and stone carving graduation ceremony were filled with talk of grand plans, for Meseret Yershaw, 45, a mother of one, a basketry graduate, it simply helped revive an income that was stopped because of Ethio-Eritrea border war of 1998-2000.

Aksum, a historical city of monuments and churches lies just few dozen kilometers from the Eritrean border, and its economy has been affected by the closure of the border since 1998.

“I used to sell my basketry products as far as Asmara, Eritrea, but after that I was largely jobless, with this project I hope I will earn enough money to change the life of me and my daughter” said Yershaw. (Xinhua)