Last week we sent the Yaya Girls off after five months in the Program with their graduation certificates, words of encouragement, materials for their new mushroom farm and their final salary for a months work in the Yaya Village Hotel. It was an emotional good bye, and few of the girls asked why they couldn’t keep living at Yaya indefinitely, but like with any kid eventually the parents (ie. our Program) have to cut them loose.
More so than with any other group of graduates, we really feel that this group is now equipped with the tools to succeed in life and create a better future for themselves.
In the final two weeks within the Program the girls were working hard to get government officials from the nearby Sululta area to come visit the Yaya Girls mushroom farm. The hope was that if they were impressed, the girls would be gifted a free piece of land to start their own mushrooms production. Amazingly, the girls were not only given land but were actually placed in an already built compound that just requires a bit of additional work to make it ready for growing oyster mushrooms. They’ll have the space for four years totally free of costs. The Program will help the recently graduated girls with some of the initial investment for the new oyster farm.
In wrapping up Yeshi, Meseret, Tihtena, Hana, Woorkanish B. and Woorkanish S.’s time with the Yaya Girls we wanted to share some of their answers to a set of exit interviews that Patryk carried out.
Patryk: Did the program change your view or opinion about being and woman, and how?
Yeshi: Before the GOAL program I always thought women are not equal with man. I always thought/believed that men are superior, but after GOAL that has completely changed and now I know women are equal with men and sometimes even better and wiser in decision making.
Hanna: Yes, before I came to Yaya I never thought that woman can be independent both financially and psychologically, but now this is all changed.
Woorkanish S.: Yes, before I came to Yaya I used to be ashamed to talk about the menstruation and I thought that its not even right to talk about it, but after GOAL program I learned that its okay to talk about it and she has every right to decide about her body and that nothing makes her less that men.
Patryk: What advice do you have for the new group of the Yaya Girls?
Woorkanish B.: I will tell them that they can do everything while they are running. Before I came to Yaya I thought that if I run I cannot do anything just focus on running, but now that has been changed.
Meseret: I will advise them not only to focus on the running. They have to work too, because I learn everyone can do their running training beside other things.
Patryk: What is your plan/what do you want to do after the program?
Woorkanish B.: Start mushroom farm with my friends and want to set an example for the next group of Yaya Girls
Hanna: I want to start a business.
Patryk: What is your dream for the future?
Woorkanish S.: To work hard on the mushroom farm and make it a big business.
Yeshi: I have this big dream to start my own business and help the disadvantaged women, especially those who work as housemaids.
Patryk: What has been your favorite part of the program?
Hanna: GOAL program was my favorite part of the program.
Yeshi: My running training was my favorite part, because it helps me improve my running.
Patryk: What are you going to miss after you leave?
Meseret: Our unity and living together with the girls.
Yeshi: I will miss everything, even our fights, but most of all dining together with the girls.
Seeing the development of this group of girls motivates all of us working on the Program to continue our work, while also proving the Yaya Girls worth and illustrating the great influence the Program can have on the girls. We are proud of these Yaya graduates and are confident that they will be able to stand on their own feet, showing the benefits of being a proud and confident woman to communities throughout Ethiopia.