Meet the New Yaya Girls!

After interviewing finishers from our recent cross-country race we are excited to introduce the new Yaya Girls. They have now been at Yaya a month and are settling in really well. They have been learning English, taking part in the Goal Program and of course running.



Meseret Debele

Age: 18

Running Distance: 1500m

Favourite Athlete: Tirunesh Dibaba

Favourite Food: Banana

She left her family four years ago so as not to be a burden to them. She has found out the hard way that life is not easy. For four years she worked as a housemaid earning 150 birr month but more recently she has been doing peoples laundry and earning 250 birr. After rent this left her with only 100 birr (5$) to buy food for a month. This was just enough to buy rice which she boiled using firewood and ate plain. Not a very nutritious food to support her running dream!

Almaz 2


Alemaz Tekule

Age: 20

Running Distance: 3km and 5km

Favourite Athlete: Kenenisa Bekele

Favourite Food: Banana

She also left her family as they couldn’t support her. She has worked as a housemaid earning 150 birr a month. Her employer only let her run every so often, not nearly as much as she would have liked. She first started running seven years ago as she saw it as a way out of poverty.

Eden 2


Eden Alemu

Age: 17

Running Distance: 3km

Favourite Athlete: Meseret Defar

Favourite Food:Injera

She left her family farm so pursue her running dream. After working as a low paid housemaid she changed job to work as a daily labourer. Work was not always guaranteed but if she had jobs four or five days a week she could earn 350 birr a month. On many occasions she has considered giving up what she loves, running, so that she can work full time to better support herself. Hopefully after graduating the Yaya Girls Program she’ll not only earn a well paying job but that she’ll continue running!

Bekelu 2


Bekelu Abebe

Age: 18

Running Distance: 3km

Favourite Athlete: Meseret Defar

Favourite Food: Bread

She too worked as a housemaid but unlike the others she was not paid. Hard to believe, I know. Her employer first gave her the option of running or education and as she chose running they decided not to pay her. If she stopped running and didn’t mention education she would have been paid 150 birr. But her love for running was too great to consider this.



Rahel Bekel

Age: 17

Running Distance: 3km and 5km

Favourite Athlete: Meseret Defar

Favourite Food: Porridge

Rahel moved to Addis Ababa seven years ago after her mum sadly passed away when she was only 10. She managed to get a job as a housemaid and then recently moved to Sululta where she worked as a waitress in a hotel three or four days a week. She made 320 a month and after rent that left her with170 birr a month to support herself. This was not nearly enough so she still focused on running to try and lift her out of poverty.

We are thrilled to welcome the girls to the Yaya Village and we hope that they will benefit hugely from the programme.


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