Jember Teferra. Not a name that means very much to many people, but it should. This lady has spent her life in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, fighting for the rights of the poorest of the poor in her capital city. People who live in slums and until she came along, had no voice. But she has helped to save 52,000 + people from poverty by setting up project teams to help the people in a ‘holistic’ or whole person approach, dealing with their housing, education, health, food needs etc and then providing a way for these people to take a low interest loan, start a small business and become self financing. David Dimbleby once referred to her as a ‘modern day Mother Teresa’.
Not a celebrity, no. But here she is, this last weekend (5 Oct) receiving a small engraved silver plate from a few of her supporters. It seems such a small token for such a huge work and yet she is grateful.
It is the Literature Festival in our town at the moment. Celebrities abound. Some with airs and graces sign copious quantities of books and receive the accolades of their fame and status by an often fawning crowd. Jember isn’t a celebrity, she is hardly known but isn’t her work worth celebrating? What a topsy turvey world we live in where someone who has spent a lifetime fighting for the basic human rights of a voiceless majority is so little known and someone who has simply given people some entertainment and written a book or two is so venerated.