For Berkie, life became extremely hard at an early age. After several years of ridicule from her mother over her inability to use her hands in a fully functioning manner she was finally diagnosed with leprosy at the age of ten. With little to no assistance from her family she was left alone to deal with her eroding disease. Eventually, she went to a hospital where they had “Alert,” a section of the hospital that deals specifically with Leprosy cases. Getting treatment through Alert made her more stable physically and they were able to stop the disease from spreading any further. Through her time at Alert she gained something special, her skills and abilities in weaving and sewing, which she has now taken to use for the betterment of others.
Berkie started her own business with thirteen other members of the Alert program and it wasn’t long before the business had grown to employ over 60 Leprosy affected individuals. The significance of her work goes way beyond making money. She is able to employ disabled people just like herself, giving them hope for a more normal life. Each person trained gains the tools for becoming self-sustained and independent so that no matter where they end up they are able to support themselves through their special skills. Her ultimate dream is to reach out to the local Leprosy affected community and organize others, transforming one group of people at a time.
This past spring Heavenly Treasures visited Berkie & her project in the middle of the largest Leprosy community in Ethiopia. We have been able to sell several orders of their products over the past five + and have named their project, “Berkie’s Blessings,” representing the hundreds of lives that have been blessed through this ministry and how God took Berkie’s broken life and made it a blessing.