Kuchinate Women

Meron Weldu

Meron is from Eritrea, a single mother of a 5-year-old girl, "I had a hard life: My father died in Eritrea and at five I left with my mother and younger brother to Sudan," she says, "when my mother passed away, her friend raised us. To this day, my mother comes to me in dreams."

"When I was 17, I worked in a bakery and one day on my way to work I was abducted," a dark- car, like the one who would pick me up, stopped by me and kidnapped me. It's hard for me to tell what I've been through." At 17 and a half, she entered Israel via Sinai. She has since worked as a cleaner in Eilat, and as a cleaner in homes of Israelis in Tel Aviv, for the past three years, she has been in Kuchinate creating beautiful products and working as a leading saleswoman.

Ashok Deng Loal Akowak

South Sudan

Ashok has been living in Israel for over 10 years. She lives with her husband and three children (ages 12, 9, and 7) near the central bus station in Tel Aviv. Ashok is responsible for sales at the store and outside events, as well as the distribution of fabrics to women. She teaches knitting and specializes in crocheting Poufs and large baskets. Ashok speaks both Hebrew and English and thus acts as a host to guests and groups who visit to tell them her personal story and Kuchinate's story.

Ashok is in charge of all baskets as well as production and stock manager.

"I was a maid at a hotel by the Dead Sea for five years before I became sick and had an operation. I immediately went back to work, but after three years I became ill again and suffered through severe pain. I once fainted in the middle of the job. My body was swollen and sweaty and my heart was beating fast. I left the job and did not know what to do. I moved to Tel Aviv with my husband and children to get medical help. At first, living in Tel Aviv was hard because I did not have a job and was very lonely. A neighbor who saw I needed help told me about Kuchinate where I was trained in knitting and began to work. Here, I feel that everyone is like a family. This place gives me strength and patience. Here, I am not alone. I am with my sisters.”


Hewan Desta, Community Psychosocial Relations


Hewan is from Eritrea. She is a single mom who lives in Tel Aviv with her two daughters and one son. At Kuchinate, Hewan works as a women coordinator. She teaches the technique of crocheting, and she does preparations in the Kitchen. Hewan also teaches different hands-on skills, such as sewing. To her, Kuchinate means a lot. It is an important house for African refugee women because there is help and support, including economic and financial support to name a few. Hewan feels as though all of the women at Kuchinate are like her family members - she loves them and they love each other. Hewans dream is to one day have a big collective home of African women, such as a big Kuchinate.

Selamawit Hagos, Sales Manager


7 years ago, Selamawit came to Israel form Eritrea. She lives with her husband and two children (a 5 year old girl and a 3 year old boy). At Kuchinate she crochets and is responsible for sales. She attends all of our sales. Her favorite part of Kuchinate is when everyone sits together and enjoys coffee, conversation, and crochet. Selamawit is one of the leading women in crocheting, specializing in artistic baskets. She joined the Gil Project and made a human-size, beautiful basket that was displayed in the Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York, as well as in Haifa.

Being sick is difficult for her since she and her family do not have health insurance. When she’s sick, her husband doesn’t work because he has to take care of the kids. Selamawit prays and dreams for health.

”What will bring tomorrow only Gd knows”

Fiori Yonas, Catering Manager


Fiori arrived in Israel in 2010 and lives with her husband and two boys in Tel Aviv. She enjoys her time and work at Kuchinate and often participates in our sales. Most of all, she enjoys the traditional coffee ceremonies (bounas). She is also a great cook and those who are lucky enough to try it really enjoy her food. To Fiori, Kuchinate is a family; a home.

Favor Agbo


Favor left her native home of Nigeria due to religious conflict. She arrived in Israel in January 2010 on her own. At a young age, Favor developed Polio which has significantly affected her mobility ever since.


“Kuchinate has helped me become independent. Before, I was jobless without an income and relied on family; but now I earn money every month. I dream that Kuchinate will improve so that we can earn more money and improve our standard of living. I dream of being able to pay to have a whole room to myself in an apartment.”

Ejigayehu Yarko Balcha


Ejigayehu had three sons who died and a daughter with whom she lost contact. Ejigayehu came to Israel six years ago and spent four of those years in Ramle Prison because she did not have a visa. Ejigayehu works only at Kuchinate. She knits wonderful baskets and teaches others how to knit. The women love and respect her. They call her "Kuchinate's grandmother."

"I came to Israel with a tourist visa and stayed because of a political problem. I was a member of a women's organization, and when the government changed their policies they wanted to put me in jail. In Ramle Prison I was with many Israeli and African women. Most of the Israeli women left because they had a lawyer and family to bail them out, but I did not have any of that. I would watch them all as they were released. It was only me who had no choice but to stay behind. Even to go to the doctor, they would handcuff me and chain my hands and legs. Eventually, Hot Line gave me a lawyer who was able to get me released. Now, I live in a small room in an apartment on Salame Street. The landlord divided it into different rooms. Four men share a room next to me and a woman and her children live in the other room. We all share a bathroom, shower and kitchen. The apartment smells terrible and there are mice running everywhere. I felt better in jail because I had clean toilets and showers and they respected me. My dream is to have a clean home in a country that will accept me. I want to live like a human being.”

Selam Tesfagabir


Selam came from Eritrea 6 years ago. She has one son who is four and a half years old. At Kuchinate she crochets baskets and teaches visitors crocheting techniques from Africa. Her favorite part of Kuchinate is when new people come and she gets to know them. To her it’s like a second home. She loves having the opportunity to have a bigger family. When her son comes to Kuchinate he enjoys playing with the other kids. Her dreams are to be healthy and to work hard at Kuchinate to make a lot of baskets.

Mabrehet Gebremaria


Mabrehet has three children (two girls and a boy). She’s happy being a part of the Kuchinate family as she enjoys the work that she does and she receives finances to pay her bills. Her dream is that one day everyone in the world will be happy and healthy and have a good life, including her children.

Azeab Weldemichael, Childrens Center Manager

Azeab came from Eritrea in 2011. When she’s not working, she is at home in Tel Aviv with her husband, two sons and daughter. Her job at Kuchinate is to crochet, teach crochet, and babysit the children of the women. Kuchinate means a lot to Azeab; it’s her family and she’s happy that she’s here. Her dream is to have her life change for the better, whether it be by seeing new things, speaking with people, making new friends or learning, especially English. She hopes to see big and nice developments for Kuchinate, her family and her home.

Abadit Perzac


Abadit is a mother of three (ages 19, 16, and 6). She lives in a one-room apartment with her children in Hatikva neighborhood. Abadit is one of the most talented women at Kuchinate. She cooks Eritrean dishes, knits beautifully, attends our events to sell the baskets, and hosts groups at Kuchinate.


"It’s the best for me at Kuchinate. It calms me; I don’t feel all of the mess in my head. I’m with the women and it gives me work. I sit at home and make baskets too. I came to Israel with my two kids, and here I met my husband and gave birth to my youngest son. In the first two years, I lived with my children in a UN women’s shelter. At first, I worked as a cleaning lady and I had hopes that everything would be fine. But a year ago I got in a car accident. I cannot sit or stand on my right foot for a long time. I cannot bend over. My body always hurts. For the first year I would work, so I had health insurance and could get some treatment. But after a year, it stopped. Now, I only take pills for pain. When I was injured in the hospital, my husband left my kids and me and ran away to Africa. I suddenly saw a picture of him on Facebook that he was in Africa – maybe in Rwanda, or maybe in Sudan. Apparently, he took the money ($3500 that the state gives to asylum seekers to encourage them leave) and ran away. Now, I am alone with my children. Because of my injury, I only work at Kuchinate. It helps, but it is not enough. Before the accident I had a dream to feel good, to work and take care of my children. I used to be a good mother; I gave them food, clothes and some money. Now, I have nothing to give.”

Selam Gonits


Salem came to Israel from Eritrea in 2011. She lives with her husband and two pre-school age children.

“Coming to Israel was hard. We traveled on the road. We had a car accident and I still suffer back problems from it. It’s hard and it affects my life. There’s a lot I can’t do, but thanks to Kuchinate I crochet baskets. My dream is to feel well and live well and to learn English.”

Akbaret Abrha   

Achbaret is from Eritrea and is a single mother of three children: a 14-year-old boy who remained in Eritrea and two girls who were born in Israel, aged 7 and a half and six.
Achbaret has been a member of Kuchinate since 2011. She works in cleaning during the day, and at nights, when her daughters are asleep, she creates wonderful baskets with illustrations of animals and flowers. "I like music and I sit and crochet, and it calms me,"

Tsega Kebede


Tsega has been in Israel for almost 8 years. She came alone and fortunately met her husband here. 

"In Israel, I work as a cleaning lady, but in Eritrea I was a teacher at an elementary school for 7 years. I taught biology, science, mathematics and painting to children between the ages of 7 and 16. I was a teacher as part of my military service. In Eritrea, I always sewed, knitted and painted, even when I was in the army. With the little money they would give me, I would go and buy materials to create my art. The ASSAF organization referred me to Kuchinate one year ago after having a stomach operation. I have not fully recovered and still feel sick often, but being here at Kuchinate calms me, and the women always support me. My dream is to be healthy and for God to allow me to have a child."

Merhawit Mengsteab

Tesseney, Eritrea


Merhawit fled Eritrea and arrived in Israel in 2011 with her two children (ages 8 and 5.5). For 2.5 years she worked as a cleaner in a Tel Aviv hotel, but stopped working once she became pregnant again. In November 2015, she gave birth to her third child. Working at Kuchinate during her pregnancy gave her a way to cover the costs of her basic needs for her and her children.

“There is a God, it will be okay.”

Meheret Teweldemedhin



Meheret came to Israel alone on December 4, 2010. Since she arrived, she has been working as a cleaning lady in homes. Before joining Kuchinate, Meheret had seen Kuchinate’s baskets circulating in the community. She noticed that the quality of the baskets were improving and came to join Kuchinate as a place to earn extra money.

“I’m not able to cover the cost of rent, but Kuchinate helps me cover some basic needs which are critical.”

Fanus Hagos


Fanus came to Israel in June 2010 with the purpose to start a new life. Fanus has four children, two of them still live in Eritrea while two are with her in Netanya, Israel. Fanus loves being a part of the Kuchinate community.


“Even when I am sick, I still want to come to work.” Fanus enjoys coming to Kuchinate, since learning how to crochet baskets she now has a skill that she can do anywhere.


“I want to have the biggest and brightest future at Kuchinate, I love the support and the help I have received here.”

Brzaf Hagos


Brzaf left Eritrea in 2010 to come to Israel. She described the journey as very difficult, as it took 18 days and for most of the trip they were without food. Brzaf currently lives in Tel Aviv with her husband. She enjoys making the baskets at Kuchinate and being a part of the Kuchinate community.


Brzaf’s dream for the future is to have kids and be reunited with her brothers and sisters who are still in Eritrea. Brzaf’s hopes for the future is to support herself and have the ability to buy herself nice things and live a happy life.

Maza Eyasu Mengesha


Maza Eyasu left Eritrea with her family in 2008. Unfortunately, she was the only one who made it to Israel, because her husband and 15-year-old daughter were arrested in Egypt and sent back to Eritrea. Maza Eyasu’s husband later escaped Eritrea without their daughter, and he journeyed to Israel alone. Her daughter is still in Eritrea, living with her grandmother. Now, Maaza Eyasu and her husband are living in Tel Aviv, and have three more daughters (5 months, an 8-year-old, and 4-year-old).

Maaza Eyasu started working at Kuchinate three months ago. Since then, she has made many friends and enjoys crocheting. She wants to learn how to crochet many more things such as rugs and pillows. Maaza Eyasu prays her daughter will come join her in Israel soon.

Zghiaria Abriha



Zghiaria came to Israel in 2011. The journey was tough because she had to spend three months in the desert.

After Zghiaria arrived in Israel she met her current husband. At Kuchinate, Zghiaria has found a love for crocheting. Zghiaria dreams of learning graphic design and exploring her passion for photography.

Kedes Fisehay


Kedes came to Israel in 2011. Her journey took four months and three were spent in the desert. Kedes is married and has three children (3, 11 and 18 years old). Two of her children are with her in Israel and her 18-year-old is still in Eritrea. Kedes really likes the people at Kuchinate because she likes the sense of community.

Abrahit Weldu



Abrahit came to Israel in 2012. When Abrahit arrived in Tel Aviv she met her husband and now they have two children (4 and 1 and half years old) together. Kuchinate has provided a place to work and support her family financially.


“My dream is to have a good life.”

Hadas Tsegay


Hadas is from Eritrea. She came to Israel in 2008. She described her journey to Israel as very hard and difficult, it took her three months. When Hadas arrived in Israel she met her husband. Hadas has three children, one daughter who is still in Eritrea and is 15 years old. Hadas also has two boys, who are here in Tel Aviv, one is two years old and one is six years old.


Hadas loves it here at Kuchinate. Hadas enjoys making the baskets not only financially but also for herself. “I am so happy when I see the product after I finish making it. I hope for the future to be at the heights level at Kuchinate”

Genet Guash


Ganet came to Israel in August 2011. She described her journey as very challenging, but her husband was already in Israel, so she was motivated. It took her two months to get to Israel. Ganet has five boys. Her first child is still in Eritrea, and she has four other children are with her in Tel Aviv. Ganet enjoys working at Kuchinate, and it’s her only job. “I love working at Kuchinate and creating crochet baskets in my future I want to learn how to do other kinds of arts as well.”

Alem Tegey



Alem came to Israel in 2008. It took her two months. “It was very hard.” Alem was married then divorced then she remarried, and her husband passed away. Alem has 5 children. “I like being in Israel because I can be together with my children in one place.”  For the future Alem wants to learn new techniques with crocheting and continue making baskets to support her family.

Zaid Tesfamariam


Ziad came to Israel in March 2010. She described her journey as the hardest thing she has ever done. The journey to Israel took two months and for three of those weeks she was kidnapped in the Seyani desert where she would only be released if she paid them 30,000 USD. One day, Ziad and 32 others decided to escape, so by foot she ran away and made it to Israel.  


Ziad has two kids. She was married but is now a single mother. For Ziad, and many others, Kuchinate has provided a place she can have financial stability and also make baskets which Ziad really enjoys doing. For her future she wants to stay in Israel and continue working at Kuchinate.

Brehena Gebrhiwet



Brehena is from Eritrea. She arrived in Israel in December 2011. Brehena traveled through Ethiopia and was there for 2 months, then to Sudan for 1 month, then to Libya where she stayed for 1 year and 6 months. While Brehena was in Libya, her daughter was born. Her husband at the time left them and came to Israel without them.

Meron WelduWhen her daughter was 1 month and 3 weeks old, the two of them traveled alone to Israel through the Sinai. This part of the journey took 2 months. She described her journey as the hardest thing she has ever been through. “I appreciate being in Israel and working at Kuchinate, its what’s best” said Brehena. In 2016, she got remarried here in Israel. Brehena has one other son who is 13 and is still in Eritrea. Her dream in life is to be with him again. Brehena is currently pregnant with another child.

Aaisha Abdujaba Osman Ishak

West Sudan

Aaisha is from West Sudan. She came to Israel in 2008, with her husband. Aaisha has four children, 1 boy and 3 girls.

Tsade Gebrwlde


Tsade is from Eritrea. She came to Israel in 2012. Tsade is married and has 4 kids, 2 girls and 2 boys. For her future, Tsade she dreams of a safe place for herself and for her kids.

Hadas Hagos



Hadas arrived in Israel in 2011. She has two kids and life for her in Israel is really hard. She has no connection with her family because her husband is from Eritrea and their families don't accept their marriage. She wants to work very hard so that her children will have a good future.

Udase Woldekidan


Udase came to Israel in 2011. She is married but her husband left Israel and went back to Africa. She lives here with her three children. Her situation at home and at work is very hard. She would like to go live somewhere else with her family.

Natasha Assa

Ivory Coast

Natasha came from Ivory Coast to Israel in 2007. She is married and has two kids ages 3 and 10. Natasha wishes to have a bright future with her family in Israel.

Tadelesh Gebret Temsgen


Tadlesh flew to Israel in 1994. When she wanted to go back she couldn't because there was a war in her country and she had to stay here. Tadlesh doesn't have any family in Israel and life is hard for her. She is in a wheelchair.

Negesti Gothun


Negesti came from Eritrea to Israel in 2010. She is a mother of three. She has a liver disease and it is very hard for her since she does not have insurance. Negesti wants a good life for her and her family, in a place where they can get everything they need, including a good education.

Tagra Bahta


Tagera came to Israel in 2009. She is the mother of a 4 and 9 year old. Her life is very hard in Israel alone with two kids. She would like to go someplace else where her kids could have more opportunities.

Hagoosh Mesgen


Hagoosh travelled alone from Eritrea to Israel in 2011. She is now married and has two children. She wishes that she and her family could get an Israeli ID, but if Israel doesn't welcome refugees, she wants to go somewhere else with her family. She wants a good place for her kids to grow up.

Achbaret Abraha


Abra, 36, from Eritrea, is a single mother of three children: a 14-year-old boy who remained in Eritrea and two girls who were born in Israel, aged 7 and a half and six.

Abra, who works during the day cleaning, has been a member of Kuchinate since 2011. Abra creates wonderful baskets with illustrations of animals and flowers. She does the work on the baskets at night while her daughters are asleep. "I like music and I sit and crochet, and it calms me," she says, "the colors make me happy, I love to knit calmly, but sometimes there is no time and I'm so tired".

"Here in Israel life is full of suffering and I have no home. I know that I must continue the journey, but I do not know where and what the future will bring. I like to crochet a sun that symbolizes a new life, so that life will be full of light and that I will no longer be in the dark."

Berhana Mengesa



Berhana came to Israel in 2010. She has one daughter living in israel and a son still in Eritrea.

Adhanet Feshye



Adhanet Feshye has been in Israel for 8 years. She has 4 children, one is still in Eritrea, and three are here. It is hard for her in Israel, and she wants to leave. She hopes for health and peace.

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