sponsor a child

The mum battling HIV with a sewing machine

“God has changed my life for good.”

Sewing in Ethiopia

“I was shocked when the doctor informed me I was HIV-positive. Everything seemed so gloomy. I thought that I was going to die instantly. I felt so sorry for my kids. I cried and cried. I was in bed for many weeks.” 

Alemnesh had good reason to be frightened by her diagnosis. Only months earlier her husband had passed away due to a HIV-related illness. After his death, she’d struggled to pay school fees, feed her family and cover the rent for their tiny room.

At a point when Alemnesh was ready to give up hope, she received a visit from her local church in Akaki, Ethiopia. “[They] came to my home to pray and to release me from the strains of depression that I was immersed in. That moment was crucial in my life, as the burden inside of me was all gone for good,” she remembers.

It was that visit which led to the registration of Alemnesh’s two youngest sons into the Compassion project. An act that restored the family’s hope.

Through sponsorship, the boys received new uniforms, school supplies, books and help towards school fees. They were given nutritious food, health screenings and dental check-ups. Knowing her boys were being cared for lifted an emotional and financial burden, which had been weighing Alemnesh down.

The boys weren’t the only ones to receive support.

Thanks to a RESPOND initiative, the Compassion project identified 22 caregivers, including Alemnesh, who were in extreme poverty and also living with HIV. The project found that one of the biggest challenges for the group was income generation. In response, a basic business skills workshop was set up in. After training, each caregiver was given initial capital to start a business of their own.


Sewing machine


With hers, Alemnesh set up a clothing company, buying clothes from the biggest open market in Addis Ababa, and selling them in her community for a small profit margin. With her earnings, she obtained a small loan from the group, allowing her to grow the business. Within a year, she had paid back the loan and had opened her own shop. Alemnesh was able to buy a sewing machine allowing her to make and repair clothing as part of her business. 

“I thank God for Compassion. I am who I am because of Compassion. I am truly proud of the works that Compassion is doing in the lives of those who are affected by extreme poverty. It is a noble deed that delights God,” says Alemnesh.


Clothes shop in Ethiopia


Alemnesh aspires to open other shops in the town and has started to save money for a down payment on a house for her family.

“My eldest son is on the verge of joining university after scoring a satisfactory result in the national exams, and my younger son is studying accounting. I have opened bank accounts for my sons and save money for them on regular basis,” says Alemnesh. “If it weren’t for the life-saving intervention of Compassion, my family would have faced the danger of disintegration. I might have even been forced to give away my two beloved sons, and I would have definitely died. But God has changed my life for good.”


Discover more about RESPOND


Words by Nathnael Assefa and Emily Laramy
Photos by Nathnael Assefa

WORDS : Emily Laramy

PHOTOS : Nathnael Assefa

Article Comments


Leave a comment

Leave A Comment

Leave A Comment



Beyond Brave: Pray For Kauany As She Battles Cancer

“Don’t let your eyes grieve when you look at my bald head. My name is Kauany, and I’m a happy, smiling girl.”


If Poverty Could Speak to You, What Would it Say?

“Poverty began to speak to me as a child. I felt I was nothing … Nobody cared to know my name,” remembers Richmond from Uganda.


15 Fascinating Family Portraits From Around The World

We hope these beautiful photos make you think and bring a smile.


This 10-Year-Old Was Accused of Witchcraft But Rescued by Love

When Emmanuel was accused of witchcraft, Compassion staff made a daring rescue.


They Tried to Kill My Daughter Because She Was Different

Grace was born without legs and with only one fully developed arm. And yet, nothing can stop her.


The Boy Who Was Bullied Because of a Lack of Water

Imagine living without running water. Could you survive a day, a week, or even a month? How about 19 years?


How To Use Amazon Smile and Give As You Live

Did you know your everyday purchases could help end extreme poverty?

, ,


How Relentless Love Stopped a Family From Falling Apart

Victor’s Compassion folder kept his family together during a time of crisis.


30 Photos That Will Help You Appreciate Your Tap and Toilet

This World Water Day, we’re sharing 30 striking water photos that made us think twice about wasting water.


Leprosy forced this single mum to give birth alone and abandoned

Imagine lying on the ground in pain, delivering your baby boy alone.


The scars remain, but the pain is gone

One girl’s story of miraculous healing after a horrific burns accident.