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AWiB’s” Finale” with the Best of the Best!

AWiB had a great program with its “Women of Excellence” (WOE)—the wrap up event for 2012. During the course of the evening we were joined by Dr. Mulualem Gessesse, W/Misrak Elias, Sister Zebider Zewde and W/Tsigie Haile. About ninety spectators came in on this unusual cold night. AWiB as always gave them excitement and much more. The presentation was done in four round tables without the tables but rather in simple circles.  We find tables as barriers and AWiB aspires to minimize and if possible eliminate barriers in our communication and in our community.

A circle is symbolic of complete, repetition, joining and being one.  Life is a cycle and repetitious. To become incredibly valuable, one needs to join in on a circle. We felt complete by what was exhibited at this magnificent evening. Complete as the audience reflected on the presentation and their connection to these women of high purpose. A woman commented that she felt she hasn’t done much and now she would consider every moment of her life even in her sleep to do something to give back to our community. Since especially this woman came for the first time to observe and really find out what “this thing” called AWiB was all about. AWiBers had a smile on their face perhaps to say now you know. We have no doubt she will come back and join us in our circle of amazing and supporting friends.

AWiB’s WOE use their lives for serving others—the highest purpose of humanity. What the audience gathered from their experiences on this evening talking to these women intimately and knowing who they are and what they have done was a strong feeling for the need to live our lives purposefully. If we chose to come to this beautiful world, we better make the experience count. As the reflection went, many expressed they were motivated and inspired to follow the footsteps of the women of excellence. The mood was jolly, as the board members made their rounds; we observed many were deep in their thoughts and asking questions and conversing; but most of all we observed a lot of laughter from every circle and clapping every now and then. The laughter is what the AWiB board would like to take away from this evening, because learning is done best in moments of fun, perhaps… we thought… AWiB might be on the right track.

In their reflection of the evening, spectators said they were motivated; inspired to do more; gained knowledge in the areas they were never aware of. For example in their conversation with Dr. Mulualem, they learnt she had saved thousands of premature babies whom otherwise were condemned to die due to a meager supportive system. The conversation with these women was intimate and genuine. All were mesmerized by the experience and commented that the idea of forming a circle was the best layout that AWiB has thrown their way. W/ Misrak commented it was such an innovation. All WOE changed circles every 15 minutes being able to converse and share with all the spectators present.

So what materialized out of these dynamic conversations?

Misrak Elias is a woman who has dedicated her life and career to the empowerment of women and girls globally, focused around her latest initiative of ending child marriage. Perhaps this is a felt need to give a woman a chance at life and to focus attention on this grave Ethiopian challenge. Another area discussed was career paths and choices. In Misrak’s case after a successful career globally she came back home to learn from the people and to share her experience. The audience also felt they can do the same. But we need to also understand that change can only happen if the people involved feel whatever is to come must come as a win-win. Managing change was touched upon and Misrak is going to do a program for AWiB on “Managing Change”…so stay tuned!

The conversation with Dr. Mulualem was somewhat emotional because in the audience, there were some who lost babies due to premature births and a premature medical system in our country. And this is precisely what Dr. Mulualem is working so hard to change. This subject is also a “hush” subject. No one discusses what happens preferring to dismiss it all together. But the lack of proper mourning becomes a lifelong unsettled issue for the mother.  All of the WOEs were asked about how they overcame their challenges. Dr. Mulualem responded by saying it is through determination, positive attitude, using time effectively, a supportive family and life partner (her husband is also a doctor).  AWiB also sponsored to the event ten college female students whose GPA is 3.0 and above. One of these students was cared for by Dr. Mulualem as an infant. This young girl now aspires to become a doctor herself. Dr. Mulualem said it was a joyous reunion.

The conversation with Tsigie Haile revolved  mostly on what prompted her to start her lifelong commitment to empowering women economically.  Her challenges were the formation of the organization and even to date human resources. Tsigie is such an empowering woman and an excellent educator. Typical of the challenges local NGO’s face, the majority of her staff leaves in search for better payment with international organizations. More-so, because Wise, Tsigie’s organization, hires women mostly and trains them well in every discipline of businesses. These well trained and well prepared women then become the best catch for international NGOs and other organizations. It was refreshing that many from the audience especially among the invited college students were inspired to volunteer their time. They have promised themselves to live their lives purposefully and will start from WISE as volunteers. No doubt as everyone who passed through the best business training school of WISE, these young women too will improve their chances of obtaining a better career. As Misrak stated above, any change is received well when it is a win-win proposal. Tsigie, like a mother bird, is well known for educating and setting her children free — in her case any one of those women who came to join her in her venture to make a better life for others leave improving their chances for a promising career.

Sister Zebider, a soft spoken woman, is a powerhouse. She is an impressive self educated women whose iron will is to make life better for millions. Conversation with Zebider involved qualities of leadership. She says, “Self examination and self reflection are important in any leader if desired to lead others. Unless we know ourselves well and feel comfortable in our skins, we can’t even think of leading a few let alone a community”. She also mentions that patience, transparency, forgiveness and inner peace will make us still and balanced in our moves. Lifelong learning, reading inspirational books and a strong faith in whatever we choose as our guidance  is also pivotal. Strong faith she says is the backbone of any successful endeavor.  If not she warns, we will be confused and end up not useful for anything. When asked what was her saddest moment in life? She says the death of an HIV positive child who was entrusted under her care as an orphan. Also the outlook that the public at large has towards NGOs— the misconception that NGOs are money making entities and not appreciating the hard work and great contribution to the society saddens her immensely. When asked what is her happiest moment?  She replied saying it was the Mary Joy’s modern and well equipped senior care center, which was the first in the nation. Zebider also observed that the audience outlook is less conventional and the questions, comments and insights they shared showed her that our community is changing and the culture of giving is also changing. As a Woman of Excellence, Zebider knows her worth and is not bashful about giving herself credit.  She believes Mary Joy has contributed a great deal to change the community’s outlook in this regard. We applaud her for her courage to give credit to herself and her partners for what they have done and are doing.

What do these honored women think about AWiB’s contribution and the movement of nurturing women leaders of our nation?

Zebider says she is proud of AWiB for focusing on women and actually leading women with leadership. Because, she highlights that some of the recent programs aimed at women’s leadership, even at parliament level are done by males. There are a bit of incongruities as we all learn by examples and therefore women need to come out in large numbers to be exemplary to a lot more. Thus she concludes, what AWiB has done and will be doing with the Women of Excellence program is right on the heart of moving ahead.

Dr. Mulualem said AWiB is a teacher for many and needs to continue doing that. She feels the dissemination of information through AWiB to those who use it is superb and to be encouraged. She also feels the attention AWiB is getting lately would help many understand women’s issues and explore ways to personal and professional development.

To continue with our culture of appreciation, the outgoing board members were acknowledged for their hard work and commitment to nurture and bring AWiB to where it is today and were sent home with beautiful and memorable gifts. AWiB also used the occasion to announce changing of the guards. Nahu after fostering and developing AWiB from its inception is stepping down as a president. Billene Seyoum, a dynamic young woman with many facets will take the mantle from the old guard in 2013. It was a bittersweet farewell for Nahu and a sense of optimism in the air with the new leadership to continue this important contribution of the association. Nahu also received a beautiful wooden Viking figure from a man in the audience with the message “behind every strong woman there is a strong man” which she accepted the gift graciously– reflecting on the irony.

For those of you who joined us on this magnanimous occasion, we say thank you and for those who were not able to join us, we still say thank you and send you this recap to help you be part of the occasion. AWiB concluded the last program of the year 2012 with the best of the best. We feel privileged to be part of history in this stupendous nation.

We wish you all a happy holiday and leave you to reflect on the following quote.

“God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere” ~ Hermes Trismegistus ~

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