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New Leadership at Women at Risk : meet Nebiyu!

It is our pleasure to introduce you to Nebiyu, the new Director of Ellilta Women at Risk. Started by Serawit “Cherry” Friedmeyer twenty years ago, Ellilta has helped over a thousand women break free from the sex trade. As Cherry began to contemplate retirement, Ellilta’s board of directors began a succession process that led them to someone who can carry on her legacy, someone with a deep understanding of the program, someone dedicated to ensuring Ellilta remains open to all those desperate to leave behind life on the streets. That someone was Nebiyu.

To help introduce himself, Nebiyu has written a letter to you…

Hey friends, I hope you all had a nice Christmas and New Years celebration!

I am Nebiyu Haile and I am serving as the Director of Ellilta Women at Risk. Though it has just been about two years since I started working here as a Program Manager, I have been in touch with EWAR for more than three years before joining. When I was working as a director of a faith-based organization, we had a project that aimed at helping women in prostitution and we approached EWAR to help us design and implement that project. Such contact helped me to know more about EWAR and the great work it has been doing to help women in prostitution get out of that business and start a new lifestyle. As a result, when I got the opportunity to join EWAR, it did not take me too much time to decide!

When I was a kid, I got the chance to join an assisted child development project which was being implemented in one of the local churches around our area. As I look back, being part of that project played a great role for the person I am today. It’s through this project that I came to know about Jesus Christ which led me to accept Him as my personal savior. And passing through this project also helped to develop an interest towards charitable and social works. Thus, I consider myself very lucky to have the chance to serve at EWAR!

Working with women who have a distorted self-image is very demanding and needs lots of effort. There are also other external factors which make our work difficult, but when I look at the vision of EWAR, the commitment of the staff and teamwork that is part of EWAR’s culture, it helps keep me going. Seeing the hope of the women we are serving be renewed and their lives brighten are some of the things that bring me great joy!!

Will you help welcome him to our community? Introduce yourself, send a quick “hello,” or share some encouragement with Nebiyu here!

Every day, Nebiyu helps women stuck in the sex trade build restored, healthy, and hopeful new lives. Every month, by giving up a few mochas, you too can give these women a chance to receive counseling, life skills, and job training.

Will you do your part and join the Mocha Club community today?


Women at Risk: Healing From the Inside Out

When thinking about organizations in Africa, you may be thinking, “How are people selected to be in these programs?”

The process of selecting women to be apart of the Women at Risk program is not a quick or easy process. The women are chosen based on their desire to leave the prostitution industry and their desire to leave it in the past. Here is a closer look into the process of how women’s lives are being changed.


First, social workers visit the women on the streets and in bars during the night, hoping to talk to them and build relationships with them. During the night visits, the social workers look for women who are desiring to leave prostitution and find a way out.

The beautiful thing about this is that the women are met right where they are. In the streets. In the bars. Just as they are. 

The social workers get to know them right where they are and invite them to come to the center for more relationship building. Finally, if the desire to get out of prostitution is authentic, they are invited for a final interview.









Next, twenty women are accepted into the program and begin structured counseling. Many of the women receive one-on-one counseling to make their rehabilitation a success!

During this counseling, the women are loved on and cared for not just physically, but mentally and spiritually.

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In the final phase of the program, skills training, the women choose a skill to pursue and grow in. Trades include designing and tailoring, food preparation, and hair styling. Eight of the women also chose to start their own businesses and employ themselves. Training in finance was provided for these women, so they can learn the necessary skills to be successful.

One of the most impactful parts of this program is that during the rehabilitation process childcare is provided! In the Nazareth Project in Nazareth Town, Ethiopia, there are 54 children and mothers being cared for. Out of the 54 children, 11 of them are under the age of 4. The children receive day care and participate in a summer camp.

Without the help and care for the children, the mothers would not be capable of going through the full process of the Women at Risk program.


Women at Risk is not only just for women, but it also helps children receive the loving care they need!

So when you participate in giving to The Mocha Club, you are not only helping women change their lives for the better, but you are helping families become whole again.

#MCJourney2016 Day Four : Women at Risk

The Mocha Club Journey team has landed back home safely in the States – back to the same work week but not back with the same heart posture. Each project partner we visited left us with a change in knowledge, perspective, & joy. One of our team members, Lizzie, shares about one such encounter…


From the Shadows into the Light: Renewing Hope for Women and Girls in Ethiopia


As we drive down the streets of one of Addis Ababa’s red light districts, dozens of young girls stand in the shadows against concrete walls, faintly illuminated by the cold glow of fluorescent streetlights. Girl after girl, with only a few feet separating one from the next, flash past us as we make our way down the rows of rundown shacks and dingy bars. Nebiyu, the program manager for Ellilta Women At Risk, takes us from one location to another, each street lined with dozens of sex workers waiting for their first customers of the night. I try to count how many there are, but quickly find it’s impossible – there are too many to count. In disbelief, I asked Nebiyu if there’s always this many girls out here. “No,” he explains, “it’s still early, and it’s a Sunday. There’s usually much more.”

This is life for thousands of women and girls in Addis Ababa. Figures estimate that there are as many as 150,000 prostitutes in the city alone, and the number is rapidly growing. Here, the price for sex runs as low as 10 birr, which is equivalent to less than 50 cents in US dollars. Women and girls who have entered into prostitution are marginalized, exploited, ignored; they are regularly victims of abuse, often living in poverty. So it’s a valid question to ask: Why would they do it?

In our culture, there is a common misconception that prostitution is a choice. However, I would argue that in most cases, prostitution actually arises from a lack of choice. In Ethiopia, many women come to Addis from rural areas across the country in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Over 80 percent of Ethiopia’s population lives in the countryside, where the average income is less than $1 per person per day. Desperate for work, girls will leave their rural homes and make the journey to Addis. However, without education or job training, many will eventually abandon hope in ever finding work and resign themselves to a life of prostitution with the belief that they have no other option.

For other women, sexual exploitation may be the only life they know. A vast majority of girls on the streets were victims of sexual abuse as children, with estimates ranging anywhere from 75 to 90 percent. Others are the product of intergenerational prostitution, where mothers involved in sex work will raise their daughters to follow in their footsteps. So the women we see standing on the street may not have been trafficked from another country, chained to a bed, and sold to strange men; but is there ultimately a difference between physical chains and psychological ones?

Regardless of how it begins, the outcome is often the same: frequent and often severe physical abuse, sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and addiction. One study found that 68 percent of prostituted women met the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which falls within the same range as combat veterans and victims of torture. Women who are in prostitution also have a significantly higher death rate than women who are not.

It is apparent that the dangers are incredibly real but many perceive them to be inescapable. In a study conducted across nine countries, 89 percent of women involved in the sex industry are desperate to escape, but feel they are unable to overcome their circumstances due to economic necessity, addiction, a lack of employment options, coercion, or access to basic human services such as a home, education, job training, counseling, or treatment. This is where organizations like Ellilta Women at Risk step in to break the cycle of exploitation and abuse. Through their programs, Ellilta Women at Risk has renewed hope for over a thousand women, giving them a life of freedom and restoration.


The Program:

Ellilta Women at Risk (EWAR) is a holistic 21-month program for women who want to escape the commercial sex industry. Throughout the entire program, women are given access to free childcare and a monthly stipend, which frees them from the financial pressure to return to the streets to support themselves and their children. The first six months are dedicated to counseling, nutrition, and treatment. The following six months provides the women with training in a marketable skill, job placement, and any assistance if they wish to start their own business. After 12 months, the women will have successfully graduated from the program but will continue to have monthly check-ins for an additional nine months as they begin to search for new jobs or start their own business.

Ellilta Women at Risk has a partnership with Ellilta Products, which is a company that provides additional job training and employment to women in the Women At Risk program (to learn more about their story, visit


To ensure that their children are cared for throughout the duration of the program, EWAR also covers any school fees and provides daycare services, after school tutoring, psychosocial and medical support, organized activities, and summer day camps. This provides children with a safe place to live, play, learn and grow.


During a field study conducted in local schools and churches, EWAR found that the average age that a person enters prostitution is age 12. At this age, children who have grown up in an atmosphere where sex work has been normalized begin to view their bodies as a source of income. To prevent and protect these children from sexual exploitation, EWAR meets with local schools and churches to educate the community on the risks and damaging effects of prostitution.

From victims to leaders:

90% of the women who graduate from the Women at Risk program never return to prostitution. These women transform themselves from victims into survivors, and from survivors into leaders. Many go on to start new businesses, and often return to support and train other graduates. Relationships are renewed, families are transformed, and hope is spread through the entire community. EWAR has been so successful in their work that grassroots ministries from over a dozen African countries have duplicated their model and are now transforming the lives of thousands of women all across Africa.

The morning after the night drive, Nebiyu drove with us to the Women At Risk program center in Nazareth, a city about 2 hours outside of Addis. Our van came to a stop in front of a colorful gate surrounded by high walls. The dark images in our minds of countless young girls hidden in the shadows melted away as the guard opened the gate and we walked into a bright courtyard filled with lush greenery, mango trees and orange hibiscus flowers. Several stations with sewing machines and vibrant fabrics were set up in the sunshine, and we were instantly met with warm smiles and the sounds of laughter. It was immediately obvious to all of us that this place was a safe haven; a world away from the life that these women once lived.

The transformative power of this program in the lives of these women, their families, and their communities cannot be overestimated. I will never forget these women, their stories, their strength or their bravery. I will never forget the smiles on their faces or their tears of joy. I will never forget the love they pour into their families and each other, or the love they have fought to pour back into themselves.

Partner with Mocha Club in supporting Women at Risk!

Mocha Club Journey Stop #3 : Women at Risk

Next summer we are headed out on a journey to Africa with visit Ethiopia and Kenya! Our trips provide an opportunity for Mocha Club members and their friends to visit Africa and witness firsthand what giving up a few mochas a month can do, while having a chance to serve the African people. 

We will take the next couple of weeks to introduce you each of the spots we will be visiting on our journey!

Last up: our partners at Women at Risk.

Sunday morning we will attend church with our Ethiopian country director, Asrat Gizaw. Attending church in Africa can be a powerful and moving experience. After the service, the team will spend some time talking with Asrat, and learning about the large pastor training programs that he facilitates in Ethiopia.

We will set out early for Nazaret, where one of our Women at Risk facilities is located. The location is outside of the city of Addis Ababa, and will present an opportunity to see a somewhat different side of Ethiopia. Upon arrival, the team will meet with Cherry Friedmeyer, the director of the Women at Risk program. Cherry will give the group a tour of the facility and talk about how the organization came to be. The story showcases how one small effort can turn into what is now a life-changing program.

We will take another day to visit more of the city of Addis Ababa with Asrat as our guide. We will also have the opportunity to visit with some of the teachers and students of the Common Ground Pastors Academy through our parent company, African Leadership.


(or download the application & mail in):

Mocha Club
P.O. Box 2888
Brentwood, TN 37024-2888

Before and After : Ellilta Women at Risk

Ellilta Women at Risk has been working to rescue, counsel, and support women coming out of the sex industry looking for a new way life.  Ellilta restores the dignity of these women and strive to bring about freedom and restoration to people and places that are marginalized, abused, and neglected. For more than two decades, hundreds of women have gone through the program and many of them have begun to work at Women at Risk to help more women find healing and safety.

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Original staff

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Current staff

Here is a story from one of these women…

Helen grew up with her family in Nazreth (Adama town). When she was a grade seven student she started relationship with a boy from her classmate and after they stayed in relationship for a year she got pregnant and Helen was very happy when she knew about it because her dream was to spend the rest of her life with the man she fell in love with. Then Helen told everything for her boyfriend but he responds he had nothing to do with the pregnancy she don’t not expect this could happen to her because she trusted him so much so Helen decided not to tell anyone about her pregnancy not even for her parents because she knew they are not able to support the coming baby. Then Helen thought that the only way she can survive is to drop out of school and start working by her own to make money. As Helen was searching for a job a friend of her informed her there is available job in a hotel so Helen decided to start working the next day.

Starting From that day, Helen started working as prostitute at the age of 19 but she was not happy by her life that she was isolated both from her family and the society. After working in the sex work for seven years one night Helen meets with counsellors from Ellilta women At risk in the night visit and they talked to her to come to the program if she want to change her life. Then Helen was very excited and willing to join the program so she was registered to start the program. Then she was accepted in the rehabilitation program and during her stay in Ellilta she was a very cleaver woman that can be a role model for others in prostitution.

Currently, Helen is working as a chef in Ellilta women At risk also she got married and a mother of 4 child. Helen claim that her world view has totally changed because of the teachings she took from Ellilta. Helen also learned the meaning of love, hope and happiness from the staff and she is able to reflect what she learned for others. Helen wants to say God bless you and thank you for those who were supporting her while she was in the program.

Due to the sensitive material in this content, we have changed the name of the woman.

Minimalist Parenting Helps Women at Risk!

Minimalist Parenting Women at Risk


In October 2012, our friends Asha Dornfest and Christine Koh traveled to Ethiopia with the ONE Campaign as members of the #ONEmoms delegation. Here are their posts about their time at Women at Risk: Asha: “Bridging Worlds With Handmade Scarves…” // Christine: “A Day of Hope”.

They had just finished writing Minimalist Parenting, in which they offer their prescription for the problem of wrestling with abundance in modern parenting…  “During this trip, the irony of witnessing Ethiopian families wrestling with scarcity did not escape us. We’ve been committed to spreading awareness about Ethiopian initiatives ever since.”  

These generous ladies have decided that proceeds from sales in October from their book are going to Women at Risk!  This is a HUGE deal guys… they’re donating 100% of royalties on copies sold through this special fundraising link to Mocha Club, and we’re giving 100% to Women At Risk! And even better, their publisher is matching their donation on the first 100 copies sold through this fundraiser.  [Read more]

In Minimalist Parenting, Christine & Asha offer a fresh approach to navigating all of the conflicting background noise of a parenting climate that feeds on more expert advice, more gear, more fear about competition and safety, and more choices to make about education, nutrition, even entertainment. (which results in overwhelmed, confused parents and overscheduled, over-parented kids.)  They show how to tune into your family’s unique values & priorities and confidently identify the activities, stuff, information, and people that truly merit space in your life. Filled with parents’ personal stories, readers will come away with a unique plan for a simpler life! (source)

If you can identify with the need to simplify your own life, this book is for you. And it would be an incredible gift for someone who is a mother if you are not yet!  Help us spread the word using hashtag #HelpWomenAtRisk!


Women at Risk: Hiwot’s Story.

Women at Risk September 2013

My name is Hiwot and I am 21 years old. When I was 8 years old, my parents separated and I moved with my mother to a new town. Shortly after moving, my mother died and I was forced to live with my father and step-mother, who treated me very poorly. I began hanging out with friends who later persuaded me that working as a prostitute, like them, was a better life.

Over the next 5 years, working in prostitution, I was abused by men, became HIV positive, was addicted to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. I always held onto a lie that after a short time in this life, I could save up enough money, get out and make a new life for myself. But it wasn’t true, life became so difficult that I wanted to die.

One night I met the counselors of Women At Risk during their night visits and when they told me about the program I was so happy and relieved for a chance at change. After I joined the project it was a bit hard for me to make friends, but after one month I became close with many ladies going through the same struggles.

I am now so happy interacting with my counselors and friends in the project. I especially like the morning devotion and bible study.  I am actively participating in the Structured Counseling Program. I now know how I can make money without selling my body. My eyes have been opened. I want to thank all who supported, prayed, and encouraged me to find real meaning in my life.


Thank you for supporting this project, so more women like Hiwot can be given hope and a chance at change!

mochaHOTmonth: Women At Risk – Day 31

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Today closes out our second #mochaHOTmonth of 2013. Throughout May we’ve featured the amazing work being done on the ground in Africa thanks to the support of Mocha Club members committed to serving vulnerable women. From creating a safe haven for former child sex slaves through the “Village of Hope” in Uganda to providing restoration, dignity and a new life to former sex workers in Ethiopia, Mocha Club members’ small sacrifices have made a big impact. We are so thankful for Mocha Club partners like Matt Wertz, Jimmy Needham, Chonda Pierce and many others for using their stage as a place to share their passion for serving women at risk in Africa. Be on the lookout for our next #mochaHOTmonth later this year.

Stay tuned each day this month and learn how we are supporting vulnerable women in Africa as a part of our holistic approach to community development. Tweet and follow along >> #mochaHOTmonth .

mochaHOTmonth: Women At Risk – Day 30

may 30

“All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”- Winston Churchill

Stay tuned each day this month and learn how we are supporting vulnerable women in Africa as a part of our holistic approach to community development. Tweet and follow along >> #mochaHOTmonth .

mochaHOTmonth: Women At Risk – Day 29


In April 2011, we highlighted the story of one of the women who joined the Women At Risk program. Hanna spent an entire year as a prostitute, but after entering the rehabilitation program, Hanna was given hope for a future. Here’s a look at Hanna’s story >>

Stay tuned each day this month and learn how we are supporting vulnerable women in Africa as a part of our holistic approach to community development. Tweet and follow along >> #mochaHOTmonth .