From model farmer to conflict survivor

August 17, 2023


In the district of Hawzen, in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, resides Atsbeha Kahsai (56) who has faced numerous challenges, including losing her husband in the Ethio-Eritrean War of 1998. Despite these hardships, Atsbeha has always been determined to provide for her family and build a better future. She has been recognized as a model farmer and a strong woman by district, state, and federal authorities, receiving awards from local administrators to the Prime Minister and President of the country. However, her life took a drastic turn when the conflict in northern Ethiopia erupted, disrupting everything she had worked so hard to achieve.

Life as a Successful Agricultural Entrepreneur

Atsbeha's life revolved around agriculture, particularly on a large farm where she cultivated various crops. She adopted modern techniques for beekeeping, producing high-quality honey. In addition to beekeeping, she raised cattle, goats, and sheep, utilising her land and resources to their fullest potential. After her husband's passing, her children joined her in her agricultural pursuits, providing invaluable assistance. Atsbeha's entrepreneurial spirit extended beyond her farm, as she also cultivated other people's agricultural land on a shared basis. Moreover, she built houses on her property, which she rented out to generate additional income.

Recognition and Awards

Atsbeha's dedication and success as a farmer did not go unnoticed. She was honoured with numerous awards for her contributions to the agricultural industry and her resilience as a woman in a male-dominated field. District, state, and federal authorities all recognised her achievements, presenting her with accolades that ranged from local commendations to recognition by the highest levels of government. Atsbeha's commitment to her work and her community served as an inspiration to many.

The Impact of War

Unfortunately, the outbreak of the war in northern Ethiopia shattered Atsbeha's life and dreams. Faced with the imminent danger, she was forced to leave everything behind and seek refuge in the forest alongside her fellow community members. The war brought destruction and chaos to her district, and upon her return, she found her once-thriving farm in ruins. Her cattle were gone, and the modern beehives, a symbol of her success, had been demolished and set ablaze. The houses she had relied on for rental income were destroyed by heavy gunfire. Atsbeha was left with nothing.

A Strong Will to Rebuild  

Despite the devastation she endured, Atsbeha's spirit remains unbroken. She may have lost everything, but her determination to rebuild her life and business burns brighter than ever. With a helping hand and support, she is eager to get back to work and resume her previous occupation. Atsbeha believes that with some assistance, she has the will and ability to restore her farm and regain her former success. Atsbeha Kahsai's story is a testament to the resilience and determination of individuals who face adversity. Despite losing everything in the war, she remains steadfast in her desire to rebuild her business and provide for her family. With the support of the community, organizations, and individuals, Atsbeha can once again cultivate her land, produce honey, and raise livestock. Her story serves as an inspiration, reminding us of the strength of the human spirit and the power of collective action in rebuilding lives and communities. Let us join hands and help Atsbeha rebuild her business, restoring hope and prosperity to her once-thriving farm. 

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