The Lydia Center is a ministry of the Illubabor Bethel Synod, Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, and is located in Metu at the synod compound. It is a Women’s Ministry program of the Development and Social Services Commission of IBS.
Lydia Handicraft Home was begun in 2002 and initially trained more than 24 young women. All women in the program now make handicrafts. They can generate an income for themselves and the Women’s Work program.
The Lydia Center provides programs for women and girls:
1) Bible Study for women in surrounding villages
2) Classes on sanitation and AIDS prevention
3) Education about harmful issues such as female circumcision
4) Training women to provide literacy classes to children
Women’s Literacy Program
1) Active in more than 71 congregations
2) 73 literacy teachers trained between 1997-2007
3) 2,500 women involved in the program
4) 14 literacy groups functioning within the synod
Young Girls Program
1) Started in 2007
2) Active on eight congregations
3) 350 girls between ages of 10-15 participating as of 2007
4) Participating in anti-AIDS programs around synod
Income Generating Program
1)Making of textiles for congregational ministry
2) Includes stoles, alter cloths, offering bags
3) Table runners and bags
4) Greeting cards
5) Distributing vegetable seeds
6) Distributing books
Women Stories from Lydia Center
The following are stories about some of the women and girls who come to the Lydia Center. They represent how the ministry of the Center changes the lives of women and gives them hope for a better life.
Kondzit is still studying at high school, tenth grade. Her father has died and one of her sisters has been the only one who is earning a salary for the family. So Kondzit has taken a short course in the sewing machine and she is doing all of our sewing works every morning before she goes to school. This way she earns her own money and can support her family as well.
Taddelech also lives with her parents. Her father sells wood. Every day he goes outside of the town and brings wood with two donkeys. He is quite old already. Taddelech is working hard and earns quite nicely and can really help her family. Taddelech is also serving the Lord in her home-to-home programs and teaching in the Sunday School.
Merima comes from a Muslim family. Her story about how she became a Christian is very interesting. Because she is a Christian her family kicked her out. She got married and she has two sons, but for some reason they divorced some years ago. Merima has been working with us now more than two years. She works the whole day in Lydia Centre. She has also finished high school and taken extra studies in bookkeeping. She is serving in diakonia work, visiting AIDS patients at their homes.
Roza comes as well from a Muslim family. Her childhood has been very hard. Her father punished her many times, because she went to the church with her grandmother. When she was 16 years old one young man took her by force and kept her two weeks because he wanted to marry Roza. Finally Roza managed to send a letter to her father that she does not want to marry that man. So her father came to look for her and took her home. But Roza was pregnant. Now she is married and has another child. Her husband’s salary is very small, so Roza tries to earn money by doing handiworks. She is very talented. She has been taught to copy designs to the fabrics and she is really good at that. She will be taking on more responsibility soon at the Lydia Centre.
Melkam has been working with us more than one year. When she came, she did not have anything at all. She was also a little mentally ill. So she started to do handiworks and now she has rented a house for herself and is earning her own living. She has also started to go to church. again. She still needs a lot of our prayers.
Ilfenesh is the wife of Kes Tolesa, who is teaching in the Bible School. Ilfenesh is also very talented and her specialty is pastors stoles and altar clothes for the churches. She is a member of the Women’s Committee and is serving in the congregation women’s weekly program.
Biographies sent by Regina A Finnish Missionary working in the Women’s Ministry
Lydia Center Handicrafts Program
Lydia Center handicrafts are only one part in the women’s work. It belongs to our income generating program. At the same time as work is given to women so they can earn their own living, the Women’s Work program also receives a portion of what they earn.
Presently, 7 women work at the Center doing handwork. So when they sell some handiwork, we count the prize as follows: 30-35% goes to the woman who has made the work, about 30% goes toward the costs of the materials, and the rest – 25-30 % – will be income and support to Women’s Work.
A Director spends 3-4 half days a week with the Lydia Center women. The Lydia Center has a Bible study program for the women in the surrounding areas. It also has classes on sanitation and AIDS prevention. They address issues of traditional harmful practices such as female circumcision.
“The Lydia Centre is like a drop in the stream, but a drop is also important,” says Regina, former Director of the Lydia Center.
For more information, please contact Pat Burslem at [email protected] or call (540)667-0172.