Aliya Hawas Abomsa
“The first girl at the first ever Karayu school, the Dandi Gudina Primary in Dhebiti village of Fantalle District, Aliya Hawas was the only girl in a class of forty-four boys. The struggle was not easy at all, in a society where neither men nor women ever attended school, in a culture where the common belief is that school girls end up becoming prostitutes, taking such a bold step meant rising above all societal reproaches and shunning the constant condescending remarks. With unflinching resolve, she pursued her education and studied Law in college. After serving GTF as a coordinator for education and women empowerment projects she studied Gastronomic Sciences at Gastronomic University in Turin, Italy.
Currently, Aliya is serving as a Senior Communication Officer at the Office of the Oromia Regional State President, coordinating and leading all communication related activities. Prior to that Aliya worked in Oromia Tourism Commission where she traveled extensively and had the opportunity to exercise her unique talent in photography, capturing the stunning beauty of Oromia’s forests and wildlife. This, of course, is not an easy achievement for a rural girl from Fantalle who had to endure oppositions from every side; being the only girl among forty-four boys, while constantly being told that a girl’s place is out in the field tending goats and cattle, taking care of the home chores and of course preparing for the traditional arranged marriage.”
“Growing up in a patriarchal community, Yaya Jilo did not know any path to life existed other than tending cattle and eventually becoming a young a bride like every girl in her small nomadic village of Dhebiti. When Yaya turned thirteen, her father disclosed the arrangements he had made to give her away in marriage to an elderly man. This heartbreaking news shook little Yaya to her core. At age thirteen, she became a runaway child.
She sought refuge in the caves of the towering Mt. Fantalle. together with another shepherdess. Those two weeks, without any food, became a nightmare. Searches were made by the young men of the community for the two teenagers and no one could suspect they would hide for such a long time in such a cave, and thinking that the girls were devoured by wild animals they gave up the hunt. Another girl by the name of Rado became the Harriot Tubman of runaway Karayu girls, searching for them and bringing them to the safe-haven GTF had prepared for those escaping arranged marriages. GTF negotiated with Yaya’s father and the entire clan by paying the ransom. Soon after Yaya joined the Fantalle Girls Hostel and started from first grade. With the help of GTF, Yaya successfully completed high school and joined a theological college. Today, she is working with a mission organization known as ‘Ilaamee’ where she is passionate about girls’ education and holistic empowerment. She aspires to follow in the footsteps of GTF’s women leaders to carry on the holistic development work they started three decades ago among the Karayu, her nomadic tribe! ”