Now, having told my story, I feel that a huge burden has been lifted. My secrets are now in the open and I believe that no girl or woman in the world should have such dark secrets hiding in her heart. I want to encourage all women who are or have suffered the indignation of abuse to break free of the silence, live their lives with joy and look for ways to lift up others as well. Together, we can give voice to the voiceless, all over the world.
Telile (Lily) Yoseph was honored to be chosen to receive the Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award from the Dalai Lama. In addition, she was a Pathways to Peace delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March of 2019 where Lily was among 9,000 enlightened women from all over the world who are rising up against all forms of gender discrimination. Each participant, in her own way, is creating a new pathway for future generations of girls to walk into a brighter world of opportunity.
This story is not meant to be a story just about gender inequality in Ethiopia, but a global story of women who are waking up and demanding their rightful place as equals alongside men bringing the balance that female voices can bring to all societies.
Lily was born in Ethiopia. Although she was raised in a loving middle-class family, the fact that Ethiopia is one of the 20 poorest countries in the world with a long history of human rights abuses makes her birth country, along with its culture, a contributing character in her story.
As you have heard , Lily has personally experienced some of the worst human rights abuses imaginable and was nearly killed on multiple occasions. “God has not only made me a survivor,” she writes. “He has given me the strength and courage to fight back against sexual predators, two of whom have served jail time for their acts of violence against me and other women.”
This is Lily’s first attempt at revealing her personal story of survival, strength, and inspiration. She believes these God-given gifts not only enabled her to overcome unspeakable attacks, but inspired her to create a non-profit foundation to educate and empower young girls during their formative years when they are most vulnerable.
Tangible Hope Foundation gives young Ethiopian girls the knowledge and skills they need to not only protect themselves from sexual predators, but to obtain the education they need to lift themselves and their future families out of the cycle of illiteracy and poverty.
Today, Tangible Hope Foundation is making a difference in the lives of Ethiopian girls. Lily’s vision, however, is not confined to Ethiopia, it is global. Woman and girls all over the world are learning that they do not have to become victims of sexual violence or abuse any more than they have to let themselves become victims of the poverty that surrounds them. Together, they are rising.
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