The Entoto Beth Artisans was started by the Beza International Ministries in response to the influx of people living with HIV/AIDS into Entoto, a region on the edge of Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa. Believing that developing income generation was a much better form of assistance than simply handing out aid, Beza Ministries established an income generation project. They chose jewelry making because it is not strenuous, and requires little equipment or other infrastructure.
An area with great historical and political significance, Entoto is also well known as a site of healing. The Entoto Mariam, one of the area's oldest Ethiopian Orthodox churches is located on the mountain. Today, natural springs at the church are believed to have healing powers and have attracted thousands of people who believe these holy waters will cure HIV/Aids. The influx of population has stressed the region where there is no means of earning an income.
By far the largest proportion of "tsebeltegnas" (people seeking holy water) are those living with HIV/AIDS. Some come willingly, motivated by genuine belief in the healing properties of the water. Others come as a last resort, having been ostracized from their communities and families because of the stigma associated with the disease.
The Entoto Program has reached out to people seeking healing at the church, offering them a new opportunity to support themselves, and to live more healthfully. Many have few options for earning a living, and are vulnerable to all of the risks associated with a life of begging. In addition to income opportunities, the project provides adult literacy and math classes for artisans, as well as a parents' program focusing on nutrition and discipline, and a children's after-school tutoring program.
Ten Thousand Villages began purchasing from the Entoto Beth Artisans in 2009. Ten Thousand Villages purchases jewelry from the group.
- Artisan Products