AWiB Presents her Gems: Valuable, Useful, and Beautiful Recap

This month AWiB presented her gems to shine once again.
Sewit Hailesilassie, Brikti Kahsay and Lubaba Damtie.

First gem to present herself was Sewit Hailesilassie. After an introduction given by President Elect, Meti, Sewit started out by defining her name, a Ge’ez word, which translates in Amharic as “Eshet”. Sewit went on to describe herself as a feminist. She believes in equality. Her very curious nature led her to work on various areas and fields in her career, as a researcher, a lecturer and a journalist. She said, “I work to learn. Whenever I start to do something I ask myself, what will I learn from this? And what can I contribute?”. Aside from the above mentioned, Sewit is also a blogger for African Feminist and AWiB.

When asked about challenges has she faced in her life, she told us that throughout her life, whenever confronted with a challenge, she would always research on it to found a way to work around all difficulties and she has never been told by anyone or has ever believed that she couldn’t do it, until she was faced with the challenge of motherhood. That’s when she really understood the conflicting ideas of what society tells women and what women actually believe in their hearts collides. Even though her background is in Economics, she decided to do her Master’s degree in gender studies. She says “I found people like me going through the same struggles”. And she says she found her home when she later joined AWiB.

She described success as a moving target, whenever she achieves one thing she believes there will always be something bigger to go after. For Sewit, it is the people; her mother who has always been her major supporter, her feminist father who has always been there for her and her loving husband that are all her success factors.

Sewit’s passion continues to be bringing out the hidden talent of Ethiopian women. She believes in volunteerism and giving back. She says has been volunteering since she was sixteen years old.  She participated in charity clubs in highschool, was a member of Rotaract then as a member of Rotary Club. Although she has participated in so many ways to give back to the community, she says her primary contribution is always going to be her children, of which she is consciously raising them to be responsible members of the community.

When asked about what she wants to be written on her tombstone, she said “I couldn’t care less; it’s what you do when you’re alive that counts”. If anything, she wants to be remembered for being the ‘intimidating’, ‘ambitious’, ‘honest’ and ‘phenomenal’ woman she is. And more importantly she wants to be remembered for her voice. She ended her part by reading a quote by Melinda Gates, “A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman”.

AWiB’s second gem was Brikti, she described herself as a strong, hardworking, and dedicated woman, who is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in. As for her career she is the Branch manager of Wegagen Bank at Kebena branch.

She spoke about her early years when she had to work on her father’s business while still in high school. Her family wanted her to either marry or to take over the business and not continue her studies but she did not agree. Her father told her straight forward that if she decided to continue her studies and if she went against her parent’s wishes he wouldn’t give her a dime. She considers that to be one of the biggest challenges she faced at such an early age. Defiantly and confident in her decision, she went on to complete her studies and started her career as a teller at Wegagen bank. Brikti mentioned that regardless of that situation, one of her success factors is her father. Having that much responsibility placed upon her at a young age helped her learn a lot about the business world early on.

Brikti loves her current job very much. She believes in nurturing relationships, and is always going the extra miles to keep her customers happy. She says “I create strong relationships with my clients and I want to leave the name Wegagen, or Brikti in their minds”. She described her passion as solving problems; solving the problems of her clients, her staff. The other factor is AWiB, when Brikti got married and became a mother she said everything became about her family and her kids. When she finally decided to join AWIB, she started to give herself time and as a result she says, not only her marriage improved, but also her self-confidence and courage to take risks as well. Brikti wants to be remembered for the strong, good hearted and honest woman she is. And she wants the Amharic word “temesgen”, meaning “being grateful”, in English to be written on her tombstone.

AWiB’s third gem, Lubaba, was born in a remote area called “Mersa” as the third child of her family child and the first daughter, she did not know her father as he was a soldier whose life was taken in the battle and her mother was a farmer. She was taken away from her family at the age of seven to live in an organization called, Ye Ethiopia Hitsanat Amba, “Ethiopia’s children haven”, established during the Derg regime for children who lost their fathers during war. She grew up as atop achiever in her studies, always trying her best to meet everyone’s expectations. And now Lubaba describes herself as a very strong, positive, straightforward, sensitive and independent woman.

Lubaba says one of her biggest challenges was her being taken away from her family to be raised in an environment that did not teach her enough about social interactions such as weddings and funerals. Growing up she has always aspired to be a doctor and she considers not fulfilling that dream of hers as one of her challenges as well. As the current Human Resources Development director for the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Lubaba believes that both a doctor’s and an HR specialist’s job is to solve people’s problems, and so regardless of fulfilling her dream of being a doctor, she loves her current job very much.

When speaking about her success factors, Lubaba says two organizations played a very important role in her life; the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and Ye Ethiopia Hitsanat Amba.  Lubaba does not believe that she has done a lot in her life but for her, her upbringing itself was a contributing factor to the transformation of the HR department in CBE. She also shared that she plans to create her own charity organization one day. Lubaba wants the Amharic phrase “le sew nora motech”, meaning ‘she lived for others’ to be written on her tombstone. She ended her part by reciting a beautiful paragraph from a book symbolizing women’s strength.

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