Sintayehu Tishale a Man Who Redefines His Disability With Carpenter Ability


A carpenter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, works so handily with tools that you’d never guess he made his stylish tables and chairs with his feet.

He is Sintayehu Tishale, and this 47-year-old woodworker has been hammering away as one of the area’s finest craftsmen for more than 20 years.

Sintayehu lost the use of his arms after being born with debilitating polio, but it hasn’t let that stop him from defying the odds to become a successful provider for his wife, Guday Agazu, 43, and their five kids.

Despite his limited mobility, the skilled craftsman welds a hammer with incredible accuracy and can saw, chop, hammer, lathe wood and operate dangerous machinery with his dexterous feet, skills he taught himself as a child.

When he was very young he used to work in a garden using his legs as hands. Then later he began to fix small things like stools and practiced sharpening knives with his feet. He made sure to practice as much as he could because he had known that he had had to make his feet work like hand.

Sintayehu ‘s family didn’t notice their son’s handy talents. Seeing no other employment prospects for him, they taught him to beg on the streets.

He was begging for many years by travelling to Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan just to beg or to try to get something good for his life.

Things changed 20 years ago when Sintayehu met his wife. The love of a good woman helped him turn his life around; he taught himself to read and write and dedicated his life to developing his woodworking skills.

Sintayehu now sticks out in his community more for his talent than for his appearance. But he’s had to make some adaptations. He rides a specially adapted bicycle to get around and must limit himself to making certain types of furniture.


Sintayehu is proud that he never let his disability hinder him from being a productive member of society and wants others in his situation to realize they have value beyond their disabilities.

He has such a strong determination to achieve something, and not giving up has enabled him to overcome his disability. He really believed that anyone who is partially disabled can be productive and people shouldn’t give up living life because they have lost some part of their body. He said that as long as our mind works well we can train ourselves to do almost anything.

It is even sometimes hard for us to work in an office having all our body parts. Sintayehu is someone who should inspire each and every one with no hope and faith. Because even with his condition he still has the courage to show what he has inside. We might need to have someone who should give us hope and courage like Sintayehu ‘s wife, but even if we don’t; the opportunity is still waiting for us. We have to know that we can be a better person than we are today and work hard to find our calling in life. Nothing in front of us shouldn’t be a trip over or hindrance because we have to know that there is a talent inside us, a talent which is always going to be helpful, a talent which amazes everyone.

Eden Binega is a journalist and mentor in Center for Creative Leadership. She used to be a host in 105.3 AFRO FM radio Station and a reporter in Mazarot magazine.