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  • Sutton teacher’s gesture to support Ethiopian women Posted on 22 May 2015


    A NORTHSIDE schoolteacher carried a load of firewood to her school recently to raise awareness of the challenges facing Ethiopian mothers as they struggle to feed their families. 

    Susan Helen, a 2nd class teacher at Burrow National School, Sutton, made the symbolic gesture during Christian Aid Week which took place from May 10-16. 

    Ms Helen was supporting the ‘Share Loko’s burden’ campaign, named after 29-year-old mother Loko Jarso, who lives in Borena, a remote part of Ethiopia.  

    “I was moved by Loko’s story,” she said. “Four times a week Loko has to make a back-breaking eight-hour trip to find and gather wood.  

    “When she sells the firewood she earns just about €2 for it – barely enough to feed her children. 

    “I found it difficult to get these heavy sticks on my back; my upper arms hurt and I needed assistance to take the sticks off my back. 

    “I am told that Loko’s bundle of wood is about 30kg heavy – mine was barely half that. She also carries that bundle for hours. 

    “Unlike Loko, I have been lucky enough to have eaten three square meals for as long as I can remember and had comfortable footwear for carrying out this arduous task.”

    Ms Helen said she also only had to carry the load for no more than 10 minutes.

    “As a woman of similar age to Loko, I can only imagine going through the terrifying terrain, full of threat, in search of wood to ensure an income in order to feed a family and keep a home,” she added.

    Loko walks that eight-hour journey alone, carrying a load of up to 30kg on her back. It’s a task she dreads, but she steels herself to do it because if she doesn’t, her children will starve.

    Loko has a family of eight to feed. To earn enough money to feed her children one small meal a day, she needs wood to sell. When she is not collecting firewood, she is at the local market looking for buyers. She has no safety net, no one else to support her family if she falls ill or injures herself.

    In the Borena community, girls are expected to fetch and carry wood and water to provide for their family. Denied a good education and the respect of their community, women are trapped in a life of poverty.

    Ms Helen is appealing to people to raise funds to help women like Loko find a way out of poverty.

    Christian Aid is working to give women like Loko the means to earn a decent living. A cow, for example, will mean that Loko can sell the milk and butter and earn enough money to feed her children properly and send them to school.

    You can help to change the lives of women in places like Ethiopia by donating online at www.caweek.ie or calling 01-4967040.

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