My Sisters was not initiated with a huge budget and great plans.
It was a small group of Ethiopian women who wanted to help themselves and others. They were challenged to answer the question:
«How can we help those who have problems in our neighbourhood?»
Bigger donations came first after quite a long time, and this was surely positive.
Norwegian Church Aid donated a container filled with secondhand cloths. In our opinion much of it was too good just to give away so we begged to be given another container and from the containers we started a secondhand cloths shop. Through several years this shop provided good income that good be used to help others. It had sideeffects too, job opportunity for an Ethiopian woman and an OK outlet for foreigners who had an excess of good clothis.
We came into contact with some persons in Norway who planned to close down their bridal outfit shop. The outcome was that due to tremendous assistance from the Norwegian Church Aid conntainers were filled with dresses and suits and shipped to us. The containers were converted into the first official bridat outfit shop in the city. As long as the dresses etc. were up to date the shop provided jobs and income.
The news spread and we came into contact with visiting Norwegians and others from the Nordic countries. Quite a few of them came to Ethiopia for adoption. Such contacts gave good, longlasting and blessed results. Those who visited us seems to have enjoyed what they observed since they continued to support our work and enlisted a number of friends and relatives into the group of supporters. This has given us several hundreds of friends who support us some through a sponsorship arrangement, sending an amount each month for a needy family, or through contributions enabling us to run the many projects we have started over the years.
Companies and institutions are also among our supporters. We have received huge amounts for capital investment freeing us from an uncertain existence of renting facilities to a situation where we are the owner of four properties giving good location to our activities. These investments have freed our hands and made it possible for us to engage in projects of direct assistance. One of these donors, SIDA, the Swedish Development Agency, has provided funds for on job training of our staff. Funds from SIDA does also cover the running of support groups for HIV positive clients, youth clubs and education directed towards the local society. This programme is presently in its final year, but we do hope that SIDA continues its support since it has made it possible for us both to strengthen our own capacity and that of the local society as well.
Funds are important and our principle from the very beginning has been not to take a new step unless we know that our economy permits. We are therefore naturally on the outlook for persons who will join in our efforts to reach out a helping hand to those in need.
As a matter of information we may add that all our activities are supervised by the Ethiopian government through quarterly reports, yearly audit and evaluations. Those amounts placed in our back accounts in Scandinavia are accounted for, audited and reported to the appropriate Norwegian governmental agency. We believe we use the funds entrusted to us in a good and sensible way. Our salaries are according to common Ethiopian standard. More than 40 persons are presently employed by My Sisters in Ethiopia, they receive salaries comparable to what they would have received if they had been publicly employed, nothing more or less. The non-Ethiopians engaged in our work are all volunteers and receive no salary. Our buildings and equipment follow a good Ethiopian standard. Some might hve been in favour of more luxury but our aim has always been that we want to be available for those we want to help, those placed at the lower end of the social ladder.
How much did we actually spend in Ethiopia in 2008?
The audited accounts show that we spent a total of Norw.Cr. 1,037,636.36, equivalent to about US$ 153 000. About half of this amount was transfers from sponsors abroad to recipients in Ethiopia. The remaining half covered salaries and the running of the many projects we have started. Projects and activities covered by funds from SIDA is not included in these amounts.