Meryam -40-year-old-mother-of-10 stands tall on her crutches in Ethiopia
COVID-19 in Ethiopia

Lockdown halts business & income for mother of 10

Meryam is a 40-year-old mother of 10, living in Ethiopia. After being injured in a car accident, she now walks with crutches. Meryam runs her own peanut trade business in Fafan, in southeast Ethiopia. But the lockdown due to COVID-19 has put a stop to all trading activities. Our team recently checked in with Meryam to see how she was doing. Here’s what she told us:

Business has come to a halt

I use to sell peanuts for a living. Last month’s profit was approximately 500 Birr (15 USD) and that was rather good. My elder daughter sometimes tailors and sews which generates between 150 and 200 Birr. My husband is a daily labourer, but I bring in the main income for the family. We used to have just enough to cover household expenses like food.

Due to COVID-19, the transport of groundnuts from the production sites to my home has stopped due to a national ban on travel. I have no source of income apart from my daughter, who still has some sewing orders, and support from one of my sons. Mutual assistance is really the key to cope with such a crisis in order to survive.

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Hygiene kits & awareness from Humanity & Inclusion

Humanity & Inclusion has provided us with COVID-19 hygiene kits and awareness information. I have also received public awareness notifications via mobile and on our local TV about COVID’s origin, transmission and preventive measures. I have changed my habits. I used to wash my hands with water only but now I am now using soap, like the rest of my family.  

We have understood the main messages: frequently wash your hands with soap, no hand shaking when greeting and avoid public gatherings.

Education & health care

Like in most countries around the world, school teaching programs have ceased. Two of my children are still in primary school and one is in junior school. 

I need regular rehabilitation care for my legs, but it is currently impossible due to the limitation of movement. Plus, medical teams are mainly focusing on the COVID crisis. A few days ago, my daughter had a severe stomach ache and it took a long time to reach a professional because the few professional health physicians were already engaged in COVID prevention. 

Reduced social contact

I am a member of the local businesswoman’s group and I am used to participating in discussions on a weekly basis with other members about business and other social issues. But the group is smaller than usual. We are not allowed to gather all 25 members at once. For those that do come, we practice social distancing. 

I am really sad to see that traditions have been suspended. Last week we were informed that we would not be able to attend funerals. In this time of crisis, we really need strong social cohesion.

I want this crisis to pass as quickly as possible, so we can all be back to normal life.

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