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Survivor Stories
Aragew Bemerew - Ethiopia

Born in 1981, Aragew became a right leg, above-the-knee amputee at age 17. He went into the woods to gather some firewood near his home in Gondor (northern part of the country), and saw a strange metal object lying on the ground. He poked it with a stick and it blew up. He lost his leg in the explosion and was taken to the hospital. When his mother, who was his only family, was told of his accident, she suffered a heart attack and died. Aragew spent one year in the hospital recovering.

After he was released from the hospital he was persuaded to move to Addis, where there were more services available to him. He also had some distant relatives living there. Once in Addis he went back to school. He attended a vocational school through a local charity, and learned to be a cobbler.

When LSN Outreach Worker Ababu (BK amputee) met Aragew, he was unemployed. He had the skills to be a cobbler, but he was lacking materials. LSN provided him with shoe making equipment, leather, soles, glue, forms, and other materials. He makes high quality shoes, which are in demand with the local population.

Because there is no lock on his door, Aragew stores his materials at the home of a relative, where they are secure.

Aragew is very careful in managing his business, and reinvests his profits in the business.

For his community service, Aragew cleaned and swept his neighborhood once a week (30-45 minutes) for two months. He and the outreach worker decided on this project because Ethiopia had started a “Keep Ethiopia Beautiful” campaign, and they felt this work complimented that national effort.

Aragew is saving his money, and one day dreams of moving back to his home town of Gondor. He knows there is a market for people with his skills, and not much competition for his business. He wants to train other survivors to work in the shop with him.

View the next profile: Bekele Gonfa

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