The Journey Of A Timeless Heroine

By Dawit Woldeyesus

At Merkato, the busiest market in Addis Ababa, so many people were wandering here and there for different kinds of activities. Buses, taxis,automobiles, motorcycles, and other types of vehicles are doing on their usual activities. Behind the market place, houses had been built together. Nobody could easily identify a single house. But the identified person is living in one house from the rest of those houses- Elisabeth Yimamu.

She has an oval face with a defined, slightly pointed chin. Her dark eyes are large and sitting below trim eyebrows that seemed to curve as a natural extension of her broad, rounded nose. Her hair was naturally brunette but powdered to brown color.

She had passed so many obstacles in her life.” Elizabeth is living with HIV virus for more than 17 years. She was not able to have a child till the age of 48. She feels sad when she remember her past life. Because she left her birthplace, family, village and friends without thinking wisely about the problem she would encounter.

Elisabeth came to earth 50 years ago. She was born in South Wollo zone, Borena woreda. When she was 13, she was forced to make marriage as per the tradition of her community. She lived with her husband only for two years. She was divorced because she was barren. “According to the tradition of our society, barrenness was considered a curse. The community gradually discriminated me labeling me a ‘mule.’ Consequently, I fled to Addis Ababa with only 250 birr, without the consent of my family,” she said.

But life in Addis was not a bed of roses for the fugitive. She had soon finished her money. Until then, she never knew what hunger meant. Everything became miserable for her. Thus, she decided to work in a nightclub. Her flash of experience in a local art club called Kebelle Kinet” to survive working in the nightclub. But her new job did not stay long as the hotel was closed six months later.

confident women

She left Addis Ababa and went to eastern Ethiopia, Dire Dawa town. In Dire Dawa she had an uncle and stayed there for a year. Stay in Dire Dawa didn’t make her happy. Because she had interest to develop her talent, she was looking for opportunity and she went to another town, Gode. Gode was a better place for her.

Elisabeth went to Gode with Derg troops to mobilize the army. There was an orchestra group that was mobilizing the army and a good opportunity came to her. There, she was also able to make some new friendships. After accomplishing the mission, she went to a western province then called Wollega.

Wollega was the place where Elisabeth stayed for long; she lived there for nine years. She married a man who was working in road construction. The couple built a residential house. In addition, they started running a local beer hall, ‘Tej Bet.’ It was well-known in the community. At that time she was very happy in life. Unfortunately, her barrenness launched a second strike against her marriage.

Her husband’s families were not happy because of her barrenness. “You see how our tradition is similar and becoming the cause of the problem of the pleasant family,” said Elisabeth. His families forced him to make divorce.

“Child is the gift of God; the womb will be opened and clothed by Him. So, why not people believe in God’s will? Why disturbed the lovely family?” she said angrily. I asked what she did at that time. “By the way, my husband loved me and I also loved him. But the only problem was his family. They planned to get him married to another woman and get a child. So, I wrote a letter for him to do his family’s wish and at night I came back to Addis Ababa,” she replied me.

When she arrived in Addis Ababa, everything was new. She amusingly says “The road constructions, different buildings, and the like made Addis Ababa look like New York City.” I asked her “Have you ever been to New York city?” She laughed and answered me “I don’t know but I am talking what I heard from peoples.”

 At Addis Ababa, she was hired in night club. Then, she started new life. Gradually, she became famous. “When peoples give you respect and appreciations, you will do more. The same thing happened to me,” she said with confidence. This condition was her turning point to be successful.
 She collected her own composition one by one. And she organized her finalized draft of the Album. But another problem also came from other direction. From the final draft of the Album, one of the melodies would be stolen by an individual. That maddened her too much. And she angrily decided to work on bar. But she didn’t work that for a long time.

I asked her “what did you do next?” “I was trained as a dressmaker. So, I got an opportunity to give training for people who were supported by UNICEF” replied Mrs. Elisabeth. She gave training for three years.

In 1993 E.C, Mrs. Elisabeth has got a chance to go to Sweden. But, because she was infected by HIV, she has lost the chance to go to Sweden.”I was very sad and I asked myself why those obstacles faced me? I prayed to God to avoid the problems,” she felt deep sadness. Finally, she decided to leave the past and became strong.

At that time there was an association which was known as ‘TesfaGoh.’ In ‘TesfaGoh’ peoples living with HIV virus were organized and actively used to teach the society. Their slogan was ‘Begnayibka Tiwlid Yidan.’ She said that “I prepared myself to fight against HIV/ AIDS. I forgot the past and stood up to teach the society.” After having psychological treatments, she decided to save the society from HIV virus. She became registered at TesfaGoh as a member.

 “Still so many peoples are negligent on the transmission of the virus. They don’t care of their future life. They only followed their emotion. It is not good. It should be stopped now. We are example for the rest of the people,” she said strongly.

Mrs. Elisabeth creates awareness about the dangers of HIV virus in different part of the country. In 1996 E.C there was a mission called ‘Guzo 96’, at that time she taught about HIV/ ADIS with her friends in different part of the country. Specially, in the cities like Jimma, Hawassa, Gore, Dessie and so on they had active involvement.

“Living with HIV is not an easy matter,” she said. “A person who lives with the virus faces so many problems. So, everyone should be protected from it. People, who know that the virus is in their blood, must be strong. What is important here is every one should under go HIV testing and counseling” Mrs. Elisabeth said.

Elisabeth applies smart mechanisms to create awareness on HIV like poems, songs, and dramas. These approaches paved the way for her involvement in the film industry and ushered in a bright future in her life.

She got an opportunity to act in “AMBASSADERU” film. In short time, she released single album. Surprisingly, at the age of 48, God opened her womb and she gave birth. Her daughter is free from the virus. “It is a miracle for me. I waited for the will of God and He gave me what I longed for” she said proudly.

No one could expect this blessing. Even Elisabeth didn’t expect it. She said that “this is the hand of God.” Now Elisabeth is the champion over many challenges. Different obstacles never stopped her. And fortunately after staying barren for long, she was blessed with an HIV free child at the age of 48. The two year old baby vows to accomplish the unfinished business of the heroic mom, to release an album.


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