Located in the outskirts Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Entoto Beth Artisan is an organization started in 2008 by Beza International Ministries in response to help women living with HIV/AIDS within the community of Entoto Mountain. The organization’s mission was to create income-generating opportunities via craft and teaching life skills instead of simply handing out aid.
Handicrafts, primarily jewelery, has been the major source of income for many of the 131 artisans who are employed within the organization. The unique pieces are created from used artillery shells and scrap metal found scattered throughout the former war zones of Ethiopia, recycled tires, but also Ethiopian coffee beans.
According to Bethlhem Tekeste, many of the designs are inspired by the master jewelry artists from Ethiopia and other parts of the world. These designers are invited to come to Entoto Mountain to teach various workshops focusing on technique and process.
The bead-making is a simple process explains Tekeste, “The beads [shell casings and coffee beans] are collected from the Northern Ethiopia countryside and then the first level artisans in our workshop string the beads, passing them along to the second level of artisans who puts the finishing touches to the jewelry. Afterwards, the finished products are checked for any quality problems and packed for shipping.”
Entoto Beth Artisans also provides a number of literacy and math classes to the women artisans, in addition to programs for parents that center on nutrition and discipline but also basic life skills like health and hygiene. For the children, the organization offers an after-school tutoring progam.
Entoto Beth Artisans will be exhibiting jewelry and a new line of leather goods in addition to colorful hand-woven baskets at Artisan Resource at NY NOW™ from February 1-5.
For more information, please visit Entoto Beth Artisan’s Facebook page.