(Xinhua) -- Tiru Alimayehu grew up on the outskirts
of Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa and has witnessed its stellar
transformation from a nondescript administration post to a
The 76-year-old mother of one has a
strong attachment to her country’s rich and authentic culture
that has defied foreign influences and onslaught linked to rapid
Alemayehu belongs to the growing army
of Ethiopia’s aging population that have enlisted in day care
centers across the country where they band together to share
experiences and perform centuries old tasks like weaving fabrics
as a means to beat loneliness and poverty.
The bubbly matriarch is a member of
Eneredada Elder People Association established in 1997 to
provide new lease of life to growing ranks of Ethiopia’s senior
citizens through psycho-social support and income generating
activities like weaving, baking and waste recycling.
Eneredada, an Amharic word meaning
helping each other, is currently the embodiment of novel and
home-grown solution to deprivation and loneliness that often
blights senior citizens in Ethiopia and Africa at large.
Alemayehu and close to 100 elderly
peers have found solace at the Eneredada care centre located on
the western suburbs of Addis Ababa where they heartily engage in
weaving as they share captivating stories.
“So far, I feel contented while at
this centre where we band together, share nice stories from
the past and spin the yarn to make cotton fabrics for sale
in the local market and overseas,” Alemayehu told Xinhua
during a recent visit to the elderly people’s care centre.
The former small business owner used
to live in a government house in Addis Ababa before relocating
to the care centre where her prowess in weaving has won her
“It feels good to rediscover your
passion in a timeless crafts like weaving that is an
integral part of our culture. This activity has strengthened
our bonds as old people while revitalizing our mental and
physical stamina,” said Alemayehu through a translator.
At the Eneredada Elder People’s
Association care centre in western parts of Addis Ababa, lasting
bonds of friendship are created and money churning crafts are
Senait Dinku, the centre’s General
Manager told Xinhua its 100 plus elderly residents have
rediscovered their passion for spinning, weaving and blending of
“These income generating activities
have sustained us while enabling us to reach out to
abandoned elderly people in our community. Our future plan
is to expand to other suburbs within Addis Ababa and if
possible to other growing cities in the country,” said Dinku.
She added the care centre has always
given preference to senior citizens taking care of HIV positive
grandchildren whose parents succumbed to the disease.
The weaving prowess among elderly
residents of Eneredada care centre has added luster to
Ethiopia’s fabrics industry that is unrivalled in the greater
horn of Africa region.
Werkye Adem, a 60-year-old mother of
one who joined the centre seven months ago was at ease as she
methodically turned the yarn to make a multi-colored fabric.
Adem used to operate a small business
in Addis Ababa but is currently an acclaimed weaver thanks to
the space provided at the Eneredada care centre.
“I feel energized while stitching
threads to make fabrics. This activity reminds me of the
halcyon days of my youth when putting on a multicolored
dress made a strong fashion statement,” said Adem.
She revealed that besides spinning the
yarn, she also engages in baking bread and other wheat products
that are a local staple.
“During my free time, I always bake
Ejara (local bread) and share it with my elderly
colleagues,” said Adem, adding that close relatives usually
visit her at the care centre.
Sustainable income generating
activities like weaving, baking and plastic waste recycling have
cushioned senior citizens at the Eneredada care centre from
abject poverty that blights their peers in other parts of
Eijgu Edosa, a 90-year-old father of
10, confessed he was still capable of spinning the yarn and make
a brightly colored fabric despite his advanced age.
The widowed ex-civil servant said that
weaving is mentally and physically stimulating to senior
citizens in their quest to escape loneliness and depression.
“(I) am unable to carry out menial
tasks except weaving which requires only mental agility.
This tradition was passed to us by our ancestors and
continue to be a hallmark of our culture,” Edosa told
He was in his element while narrating
historic episodes in Ethiopia whose relevance is still