When Aynadis heard that her friends were forming a Yegna club at school, she wanted in. All five of the girls are orphans, and are very close. But at first, her aunt didn’t allow it as she felt anything seen on TV was too western in culture. But Aynadis pushed back: “Look at the girls – they’re all Ethiopian. Five of them!”
Her aunt couldn’t argue with that, and Aynadis joined the club with her friends, listening to the radio drama every week. Now, each of the girls takes on the role of one of the characters; they write skits and songs and put on shows for the other students. Just like the drama, their material tackles the heavy and real issues that Ethiopian girls face, such as child marriage.
The club has allowed the girls to grow confident and strong. They feel a sense of purpose they never felt before.
“I used to tremble, in life generally,” says Fasika. “Girls can suffer from this, and it’s linked to self-worth and how important you feel.”
Haymanot says she used to be very shy and lacked confidence. She says she had no sense of self-worth: “Everything that Yegna stands for – peace, support, friendship – has changed my outlook on life and made me feel proud to be a girl.”
Two years ago, when asked to introduce themselves, these girls couldn’t make eye contact and would whisper their names behind a hand or sleeve. Now they say they’re treated with respect. They’re known as the “Yegna girls”.
“Now, life is perfect. When we’re together, life is perfect.” - Haymanot, 15.