Savings Groups

In June 2011, Discovering Light completed an agreement with Water is Life International and the Ethiopia Kale Hewot Church to sponsor the Savings Group (Self-Help Group) Program in West Arsi. The goal was for 300 SHG to be formed by July 2014. The people of West Arsi were obviously hungry for this program and what it represented: A message that they were made in God’s image, had tremendous potential, and countless untapped resources available to help develop themselves, their families, and communities. Nearly a year ahead of schedule, the program now boasts 326 groups with a collective capital of 730,000 Birr, an average of 2,239 per group. We’ve heard story upon story of how the groups have impacted individuals and families, providing much needed funds for emergencies and income generation. One member shared how previously, money-lenders charged 100% interest and now, not only are group members taking loans at 10%, the interest goes back into the group savings and is shared with the group. As groups expand and mature over the coming years, we anticipate they will play a vital role in addressing broader issues facing villages and the region such as infrastructure development, women’s rights, and environmental degradation.

Cooking School Graduates

Since 2012, Discovering Light has sponsored 9 young women in the Selam Awassa Vocational and Technical College program in International/National Cooking. We like to just call it “the cooking school”. Women are prepared to serve in key roles in the growing hospitality industry. Our first graduates completed the program in July 2012. In the following year, 3 of the 5 graduates opened up small cafes near their home village with a loan from Discovering Light. One of the graduates parlayed her experience into a job working as a government health worker. We are currently sponsoring 4 students in this program. Metal Fabrication and Electrical Installation for Upright Buildings: Discovering Light began sponsoring students in this program in 2010, training young men, and some women in metal-working and engineering. The school designs products for rural farmers, medical clinics, and builders. Our first four sponsored students completed this program in 2013 and are now employed using the skills developed during their studies.