Bench Blog

Getting Our Hands Dirty in Addis

Oct 06, 2015

Ahead of the recent Africa Hotel Investment Forum in Addis Ababa, the Bench Events team were invited to take part in a day of volunteering organised by Hilton.

Raiy is an NGO that was established 10 years ago to empower women who have been rehabilitated from leprosy and fistula. The objective is to empower them through economic and educational enrichment activities.

The lady behind the initiative is a truly inspirational character. She has been able to provide those afflicted with the disease with an opportunity to rebuild their lives and has brought hope, where there was once only despair.

Currently the work group has over 90 workers and 95% of them are women. It operates a weaving and embroidery business producing traditional Ethiopian woven cloth and accessories using 100% natural materials.

Hilton Addis Ababa currently partners with Raiy by buying products from them, and inviting them to display and sell their products during special events at the hotel

The volunteering team consisted of around 20 people and got straight to work painting walls, gardening and laying a new path. 

The centre is a hive of activity with the ladies delicately spinning cotton by hand before the men skilfully create scarves and bedding on the archaic looms.

Many of the volunteers brought gifts of crayons, books and toys for the children and these were gratefully accepted

It was an incredibly humbling experience meeting these women who had been removed from their communities. We shared coffee, learned some basic Ethiopian phrases and played with the kids in the yard.

Over the next 2 days, Raiy showcased their wares during the conference and many of the delegates took a piece of Ethiopia home with them.

Many thanks to our friends at Hilton for inviting us along to take part and we aim to continue to support local projects and charities at future events.