Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Mary Help College in Zway, Ethiopia. Mihret Admasu has 7 siblings, she's 21 years old and she has a dream: to make it as a fashion designer so she doesn't have to rely on anyone.

×

Mary Help College in Zway, Ethiopia. Mihret Admasu has 7 siblings, she's 21 years old and she has a dream: to make it as a fashion designer so she doesn't have to rely on anyone.

×

Designing dreams Ethiopia


The Mary Help College is Ethiopia’s first fashion design school. Sixty-six women study to be fashion designers and to run their own businesses, enabling them to achieve independence in one of the world’s poorest countries.


Just 66 of a total of 40 million Ethiopian women. Born into families in extreme poverty, in a hostile environment where gender inequality is the norm, they’ve managed to do it. Sixty-six young women who have struggled and succeeded to make their dreams come true. Aged 18 to 25, their qualifications have given them access Mary Help College to Ethiopia's first school of fashion, a thriving sector in Africa. Three years of vocational training will release their creativity and qualify them for better paid jobs and a better quality of life.


A project supported by  Africa Directo and Manos Unidas, among other NGOs.

Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Dureti Kelilo wanted to be a doctor. Her grades weren't high enough for her to attend university and fashion was her second choice. Today she's one of the College’s most brilliant students and her dream is to be a great designer.

×

Dureti Kelilo wanted to be a doctor. Her grades weren't high enough for her to attend university and fashion was her second choice. Today she's one of the College’s most brilliant students and her dream is to be a great designer.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Each of these young women has to pay 600 Birr (about 30 euros) in fees every year to study at Mary Help College in Zway, Ethiopia. This amount only covers 10% of costs for each student, the rest is subsidised by private benefactors and NGOs.

×

Each of these young women has to pay 600 Birr (about 30 euros) in fees every year to study at Mary Help College in Zway, Ethiopia. This amount only covers 10% of costs for each student, the rest is subsidised by private benefactors and NGOs.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

All the teachers at Mary Help College were once students there. Today, this fashion academy has 147 students, 66 of whom are women.

×

All the teachers at Mary Help College were once students there. Today, this fashion academy has 147 students, 66 of whom are women.

×

Fashion designers


Very early, in the cool of the morning, the campus is already brimming with bicycles and young people running about with long rolls of pattern paper, rulers and fabrics under their arms. Monday to Friday until 5pm, almost 150 design students attend theory and practical which culminate in a final project in the third year, when they present a collection of 100 designs and four finished garments.


The Salesian Sisters manage the school. They keep going with contributions from a number of NGOS, among them Spanish organisations Fundación Olmos and África Directo, which keep the school afloat. They have kept annual tuition fees down to 600 Birr (approximately €25), a token figure, for each academic year. This covers only a tenth of the cost of educating each student, but higher fees would mean empty classrooms. Many of these students cannot even manage this small amount and they work in lieu of their fees by making uniforms for sale to nearby schools or maintaining the school gardens.


Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

During the three-year course, students at this professional training academy learn pattern drawing and design, as well as cutting, sewing and embroidery.

×

During the three-year course, students at this professional training academy learn pattern drawing and design, as well as cutting, sewing and embroidery.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Students at Mary Help College are aged between 18 and 25 and they must hold their secondary education certificate to be accepted there.

×

Students at Mary Help College are aged between 18 and 25 and they must hold their secondary education certificate to be accepted there.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Twice a year, students show their creations, with the usual rituals taking place beforehand, including choosing the clothes, make-up sessions, hairdressing, rehearsals and so on, in preparation for what has become a major event for the College.

×

Twice a year, students show their creations, with the usual rituals taking place beforehand, including choosing the clothes, make-up sessions, hairdressing, rehearsals and so on, in preparation for what has become a major event for the College.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Dressing up, making up… all getting ready for the big day at Mary Help College.

×

Dressing up, making up… all getting ready for the big day at Mary Help College.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

The College even has its own shop, Fashionet, that sells designs made by students.

×

The College even has its own shop, Fashionet, that sells designs made by students.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Tsion Tesfaye, a design student and aspiring model, walks the runway at the Mary Help College complex in Zway (Ethiopia). The professional training academy is run by the Salesian Sisters and funded by several NGOs based in different countries, including Spanish charity Africa Directo.

×

Tsion Tesfaye, a design student and aspiring model, walks the runway at the Mary Help College complex in Zway (Ethiopia). The professional training academy is run by the Salesian Sisters and funded by several NGOs based in different countries, including Spanish charity Africa Directo.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Students at Mary Help College, the first fashion design academy in Ethiopia, founded in 2001.

×

Students at Mary Help College, the first fashion design academy in Ethiopia, founded in 2001.

×

Trampled Rose


Thousands of Ethiopian girls escape from a life of poverty and submission with support from an American NGO that educates them at 26 schools.


“Five thousand girls who will not become prostitutes. Five thousand girls who will not become servants in Arab countries. Five thousand girls who will not become cargo labourers”.


That is how American Becky Kiser, founder of NGO Trampled Rose, sums up her ten years fighting for women’s rights in Ethiopia with great emotion. The organisation, which started out working with women with obstetric fistula, now all but eradicated, devotes all its energy to prevention, one of the most important aspects of which is education of girls. Trampled Rose subsidizes the schooling of these girls in the depressed rural area of the North Showa mountains. It finances their enrollment, their books, their uniform, their medical needs and even their daily meals. These five thousand girls now dream of going to university but without this aid, they would have continued living in extreme misery.


“The more girls we can get into school, the better their lives and the situation of the country”, says Becky. Education in general, and particularly education for girls, is a key to reducing poverty. With an education they are more likely to get a job and an income rather than just doing housework and it also improves their health by preventing contagious diseases, etc. Education has also been shown to benefit the health of their children and to promote sustainable population growth. In fact, women with a secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa have half as many children (three) than women with no education (six).


Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Trampled Rose’s Project: the purpose is to keep girls in school in the most loving way possible and to do it with respect and dignity believing that each life from all nationalities and races are created with a beautiful and special purpose and that education is a basic step towards that destiny.


Uniforms are mandatory in order for the girls to be able to attend government schools. Often this is the only piece of clothing the girls owns and she even sleeps in her uniform.
×

Trampled Rose’s Project: the purpose is to keep girls in school in the most loving way possible and to do it with respect and dignity believing that each life from all nationalities and races are created with a beautiful and special purpose and that education is a basic step towards that destiny.


Uniforms are mandatory in order for the girls to be able to attend government schools. Often this is the only piece of clothing the girls owns and she even sleeps in her uniform.
×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Hunger is the hardest of all the needs. Some of the girls are able to only eat once every two days. This makes concentration hard and much of their energy is focused on how to get their next meal. The girls helped by Trampled Rose grades have jumped because their focus is now school.


I asked Almaz what her dream was and she didn't understand my question. Her only aim is to study so she can go to university and be a doctor. She feels she's blessed just with being able to go to school, she doesn't understand how there could be any other kind of dream.
×

Hunger is the hardest of all the needs. Some of the girls are able to only eat once every two days. This makes concentration hard and much of their energy is focused on how to get their next meal. The girls helped by Trampled Rose grades have jumped because their focus is now school.


I asked Almaz what her dream was and she didn't understand my question. Her only aim is to study so she can go to university and be a doctor. She feels she's blessed just with being able to go to school, she doesn't understand how there could be any other kind of dream.
×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Female pupils at Aliyu Amba High School fight opposition from their own families to be able to go to school. Some parents would prefer them to go to Arab countries to work as maids cleaning in wealthy homes and sending money back to their families in Ethiopia.

×

Female pupils at Aliyu Amba High School fight opposition from their own families to be able to go to school. Some parents would prefer them to go to Arab countries to work as maids cleaning in wealthy homes and sending money back to their families in Ethiopia.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

According to the latest UNESCO Education For All monitoring report, the literacy rate for young people in Ethiopia rose from 34% in 2000 to 52% in 2014.

×

According to the latest UNESCO Education For All monitoring report, the literacy rate for young people in Ethiopia rose from 34% in 2000 to 52% in 2014.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Teaching resources room at Number Two School in Fitche. This room contains all the school's teaching material, from a windmill to pictures of parts of the human body painted on fabric, maps and worksheets for all subject areas.

×

Teaching resources room at Number Two School in Fitche. This room contains all the school's teaching material, from a windmill to pictures of parts of the human body painted on fabric, maps and worksheets for all subject areas.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Becky Kiser, founder of NGO Trampled Rose, with pupils at the Aliyu Amba School in Ankober, one of the 26 schools to which this organisation has sent more than 5,000 girls over ten years.

×

Becky Kiser, founder of NGO Trampled Rose, with pupils at the Aliyu Amba School in Ankober, one of the 26 schools to which this organisation has sent more than 5,000 girls over ten years.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

One of the most important tasks done by Trampled Rose is to work towards improving girls' self-esteem, so the organisation tries to combine the academic training that students get at school with extra-curricular activities that stimulate the development of their creativity and encourage self-confidence.

×

One of the most important tasks done by Trampled Rose is to work towards improving girls' self-esteem, so the organisation tries to combine the academic training that students get at school with extra-curricular activities that stimulate the development of their creativity and encourage self-confidence.

×

Family Act


“Almost 800 women die from preventable pregnancy and childbirth-related causes every day. According to the most recent report published by the United Nations on "Education for All", if all women finished their primary education, maternal mortality would fall by 66%, saving 189,000 lives every year”.


In 2006, the Ethiopian government revised the Family Act and raised the minimum marriage age to 18 years. This has made the NGO’s work to improve education for girls easier, helping to ensure enforcement of this law that prevents early marriage and premature births that frequently lead to tragedies such as obstetric fistula and the death of the child or the mother.


Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

One of the charity's jobs is to educate girls about health issues. In 2014, one of the new programmes is to hand out two reusable sanitary towels each to around 10,000 girls so they can use them when they have their periods. Girls in these rural schools don't know what a sanitary towel is. They normally use leaves picked from trees that they place between their legs to collect their menstrual blood, a practice that leads to frequent infections.

×

One of the charity's jobs is to educate girls about health issues. In 2014, one of the new programmes is to hand out two reusable sanitary towels each to around 10,000 girls so they can use them when they have their periods. Girls in these rural schools don't know what a sanitary towel is. They normally use leaves picked from trees that they place between their legs to collect their menstrual blood, a practice that leads to frequent infections.

×
Designing Dreams. Photography project in Ethiopia @ Ana Palacios Documentary Photographer
info

Asires is 16, she's an orphan and she used to work as a labourer so she could eat. Two years ago, the NGO Trampled Rose picked her for school and now she's studying in Grade 10 (2nd year Baccalaureate) at Abdisa Aga School in Fitche. The day I took this photo, she told us that she had hepatitis but that she couldn't afford to pay for treatment (356 Birr, about 18 dollars). Becky, founder of Trampled Rose, listened to her story and was able to give her that amount of money straight away. Asires literally ran off to the hospital. I wonder what would have become of her if we hadn't happened to have been there on that very day...

×

Asires is 16, she's an orphan and she used to work as a labourer so she could eat. Two years ago, the NGO Trampled Rose picked her for school and now she's studying in Grade 10 (2nd year Baccalaureate) at Abdisa Aga School in Fitche. The day I took this photo, she told us that she had hepatitis but that she couldn't afford to pay for treatment (356 Birr, about 18 dollars). Becky, founder of Trampled Rose, listened to her story and was able to give her that amount of money straight away. Asires literally ran off to the hospital. I wonder what would have become of her if we hadn't happened to have been there on that very day...

×
Using Format