Lemlem’s injera and the #FoodFrontline

I’m Lemlem Tesjay and I lost my husband 14 years ago. I have two children, a daughter and a son.

Lemlem #foodfrontline


I don’t know why he died. He dropped dead. Nine years after he died I got tested and I found out I was HIV positive.


I was feeling occasionally ill and I had attended so many training workshops about HIV that I saw the signs that people were talking about. Because of the training sessions I knew that I could live with HIV. HIV was something that I was ready for psychologically. So when I was tested and I knew, I decided to have my children tested too. I found out they were fine – and I decided to live for my kids.


The government was looking for people who are in a similar status as myself, as well as those who are single mums and guardians of orphaned children. They got us together and organised us and provided support. Then we started the job of making injera.

Lemlem's injera #foodfrontline

In this group we make injera and other traditional dry foods that we then sell in the shop. We also receive orders from hotels and sell to individuals too. We make a minimum of 200 to 300 birr (£7-£11) per day, but when we have an order it’s more.


I have a lot of roles to play here, because I am the chairperson of this group. I have to prepare injera, assist the other women who are making it and network with the government and other partners. I’m always looking out for new markets and connections.


We have received support from World Vision. They have provided some of the working materials, but it is they training and skills on how to run a small business that they’ve provided that have really benefited myself and the team.


They major objective of this group is to avoid dependency. We are now self-sufficient. I’m able to send my children to school and I’m paying for private school for one of my children. The other is in university and I’m covering his food expenses. I’m not dependent on anyone now.




Lemlem is guest posting today because she lives in Ethiopia. The word is synonymous with images of starving children and Bob Geldof from 30 years ago. I confess I don’t remember it. My perspective on Ethiopia comes from the Mothership, who was posted there for three years whilst I was busy building a family.

Her life there had such a profound effect on us that we sponsor a child- Tewabech- with World Vision.

That’s the thing about Ethiopia today: it relies on women as never before.

Women – mums – play a vital role in helping a nation overcome hunger. With their children at the heart of all they do, they act with sheer determination to see them well cared for, healthy and thriving. It’s women who have taken to their gardens in Ethiopia, who have started small businesses. It’s women who have banded together in solidarity to start thriving enterprises. The idea of ‘mumpreneur’ takes on a whole new meaning in the region – and it’s working.


World Vision is taking Jo from Slummy Single Mummy, Helen from Food Stories and Nick from Hunter Gather Cook to Ethiopia’s #FoodFrontline to meet these incredible women and discover their secrets. They’re also connecting seven of these mums with seven UK parenting bloggers- of which I am one – providing an intimate look into their daily life. While their challenges are quite different – from child marriage to living with HIV – what is eerily similar is their daily resolve to see their children flourish.


With Jo, Helen and Nick going as part of the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign, they will discover Ethiopian’s food lessons and bring these back to the UK – helping mend our own broken food system here and kick start the end of global hunger.


With one in eight people going to bed hungry each night – sadly many of them children – it’s time for a worldwide change. From mums on the frontline to politicians in the UK, everyone has a role to play. What’s yours?


What can you do to help?


Follow the trip online using #FoodFrontline and @SingleMum, @FoodStories and @HuntrGatherCook. We’ll have daily blogs and actions straight from Ethiopia.


Use your voice. Blog, tweet and share these stories with your friends, family and followers on social media. Make sure to use the hashtag #FoodFrontline and tweet us at @WorldVisionUK to let us know.


Email your MP (http://www.worldvision.org.uk/get-involved/campaigning/enough-food-for-everyone-if/email-your-mp/) and ask them to act on global hunger today. With the UK government soon to announce this year’s budget, we must urge leaders to prioritise ending the global food crisis.



  1. says

    Thanks Kelly for sharing Lemlem’s story, she’s an incredible woman. She really shows the strength and determination of women all over the world to care for their children. A beautiful post, thank you. And I’d love to hear more about Tewabech!

Go on! You know you want to tell me what you think!