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Fatuma dreams to start her own bus company

I have a dream… to have my own bus company

Lured by the promise of a better life overseas, Fatuma found herself ruthlessly exploited as a housemaid. She told us how the EYW program helped her get back on her feet – and how she now wants to help her community.

Fatuma's story

I am a 27-year-old mum with three daughters and a son, aged ten, eight, six and four. In 2013, a broker came to the village and promised me an excellent job with a wealthy family and a high salary. I went to Saudi Arabia to work as a housemaid.

Unfortunately, I was exploited for a whole year, working from dusk till dawn for two households. I did all kinds of heavy housework. When I told them that I wanted to go home, I had to pay a fine and leave all my personal belongings behind.

It was a lesson for me, and now that I have the strength of our group, I will make sure that it will never happen again to one of the girls in our community.

When I returned to Ethiopia I was thrilled to be back with my family, but I urgently needed to earn an income. RCWDO (Rift Valley Children and Women Development organization, Oxfam’s partner) approached the local administration to connect with unemployed young people, like me.

Now I am the chair of a group of five young women specializing in cattle fattening. RCWDO helped us to write a business plan so we could apply for microfinance. We succeeded in getting a loan 10 months ago, and we have already bought, fattened and sold our first batch of 10 oxen. We grow the feed for the cattle on a plot of land that we lease. We keep a detailed record of the costs and profits of our business start-up.

I am planning to save some money so I can buy a bus and start my own public transport business. Public transport is essential for the welfare of our community. We need to travel a long way for the nearest market, health care and higher education.

I don’t know yet if I have the courage to drive the bus myself, but I can always hire a driver!

I went to school up until the tenth grade, but I had to drop out to give birth to my first child. My plans for my own children are more ambitious. I want them to be able to become pilots because the flight to Saudi Arabia was the most exciting experience I have ever had!