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Zalika’s hunger-beating sheep and a group of self-help

Self-help hope and a sheep-shaped solution for Zalika living with leprosy in Shashemene, Ethiopia: a Tearfund story.

Written by Tarryn Pegna | 18 Jan 2024

Zalika, wearing a headscarf, stands smiling outdoors with green vegetation in the background.

Zalika is one of the 200 elderly people living with disabilities who have received financial support through a project called Nothing About Us Without Us funded by Tearfund and our local partner. Credit: Adriaan Alridge/Ayaana

Zalika lives in Shashemene, Ethiopia, the capital of the West Arsi Zone of the Oromia Regional State. For a long time, Shashemene was a commercial centre with busy, bustling markets and a thriving hospitality industry. As well as being an economic hub, it was something of a cultural and religious melting pot.

Multiple challenges

Then, on 29 June of 2020, to add to the growing health and economic problems caused by Covid-19, the city faced a day of violence that left more than 100 people dead and many more with their businesses and homes destroyed.

For everyone in Shashemene, the effects of these tragedies have been hard and long-lasting, but for Zalika, there have been added challenges.

In Ethiopia, people who are diagnosed with leprosy have to live in segregated areas, away from the rest of the population. Zalika has had to live as part of a community that is separate from the rest of society in Shashemene since her diagnosis at 17 years old. That’s a long time ago, she tells us. Now, she is a widow and has three grandchildren she raised on her own.

Waiting for hope

‘As a result of Covid, we were told to be at home,’ she says, ‘sometimes my grandchildren and I went days without food.

‘I was eagerly waiting for my chance to be considered by someone – seeing others being supported and thriving for many years. Then, God’s appointed time came!’

Zalika is one of the 200 elderly people living with disabilities who have received financial support through a project called Nothing About Us Without Us funded by Tearfund and our local partner. The project gave Zalika enough money to provide for some of her family’s immediate needs and also to buy a pregnant ewe. The ewe gave birth to twin lambs a few days later.

A growing investment!

Now those lambs have grown up and Zalika has sold two of her sheep and bought another pregnant ewe, which means she’s already made a profit.

And Zalika has bigger goals. She told our team, ‘I have a dream to have cattle and to add milk into my diet before I die!’

Self-help group strength

As well as this, Zalika has joined a self-help group with other members of her community. Together, they save money to invest when they need it, and the group members look out and support each other with the health challenges that leprosy causes.

You can read another story about self-help groups here.

Zalika, wearing a long dress and a headscarf, stands in the shade of a large tree looking after three of her sheep.

Zalika has been able to sell two of her sheep and buy another pregnant ewe, which means she has already made a profit. Credit: Adriaan Alridge/Ayaana

Pray for self-help groups

    • Pray for Zalika and her self-help group. Thank God for the support and encouragement they have found in the group and ask God to bless and provide for them.
    • Lift up self-help groups, like Zalika’s, in all the places where Tearfund works in this way. Groups like these are often set up through local churches as part of a process called Church and Community Transformation. Pray for local churches to be at the centre of bringing practical change in their communities.
    • Pray for people who’ve been excluded from society – wherever they are and for whatever reason. Ask God to bring a sense of belonging and value so that, in every place, communities will take care of each other and look after people who face challenges that make them more vulnerable.

Written by

Written by  Tarryn Pegna

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