Every Friday, our students prepare presentations to practice holding speeches, interview each other and recite poetry or prose what they find inspiring or wrote on their own. One of our bright, young students at the Hospitality Institute, Emebet, has inspired all of us with her passionate speech about finding strength in one’s disability so we asked a little bit further.We questioned her about the challenges she has faced in life so far and what she thinks about the impact of PROJECT-E on her life.
1. Which hardships do you have to overcome and what did you learn from them?
” Born and raised in the region of Gojam, I moved to Addis at the age of eight to live with my aunt, who has passed away recently. I’m from a low-income family of farmers, so they were never able to support me financially. Having lost sight in one eye at birth, I grew up slowly learning to overcome challenges. Society tends to think that people with disabilities can’t do or achieve certain things, but they can. I managed to get a scholarship for high school from the International Institute of Education. They invited a blind woman as a guest speaker, who came to talk in front of our class: Yetnebesh Negussies, who founded the Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development. She is also a lawyer and a poet. She is a good example of an empowered woman in Ethiopia. I learned a lot of things from her, and she has been my role model ever since. She showed me that having a disability doesn’t mean that I am not able to achieve my goals. I learned that I can overcome any challenge. ”
2. How do you think PROJECT-E has changed your life so far?
” Back in high school, I was shy and afraid. I put high expectations on myself and tended to be stressed out. I went home right after school and then straight to bed. I failed my final exams and had a period of depression afterwards. I heard from PROJECT-E for the first time through the IIE and ended up exactly where I should have. As a kid, I wanted to become a hotel manager and here I am now studying hotel operations. The life skill training at PROJECT-E has helped me to become more confident and fearless. The English classes have helped me to feel easier about speaking to foreigners. Now I am able to hold a conversation and express myself clearly in English. With PROJECT-E’s help, I can achieve my dream to one day become a hotel manager. ”
3. When you have reached your goals, how will you inspire other young women?
” I am really grateful for PROJECT-E because of its focus on women’s empowerment. I hope that PROJECT-E will continue to empower women in Ethiopia. As a hotel manager, I want to make lasting changes within the hotel industry to help empower women, especially those with disabilities. One day, I would like to start a project that empowers women with disabilities. ”
It requires a lot of confidence to stand in front of your whole school and tell them not to judge you based on something which society sees as a disability. Emebet didn’t need to tell us – everyday she shows us her strength through her determination and humility. As one of our most hard-working students, Emebet already has a positive and lasting impact on the other young women around her. She received plaudits from her classmates and the PROJECT-E team for her passionate speech. Each week, we see our students becoming increasingly confident speakers during their presentations. More importantly, they show themselves to be supportive, helping each other grow as they keep on inspiring each other. Emebet is just one of many students at PROJECT-E’s Hospitality Institute, who are realizing their potential over the course of our programme. We are excited to see our students inspire other young women as they are working towards achieving their goals!