Amakelech Lulu: Teacher and a Lifelong Learner
Amakelech Lulu is a soul that shines brighter with every challenge she encounters. “I am better and stronger because of the hardships life has thrown at me,” she said. It is rare you come across such kinds of people who take life’s challenges gracefully and turn it into something remarkable and positive. This is one of the many things you take away from Amakelech’s life journey.
Born and raised in Addis, Amakelech is third in a family of eight children. Her father and mother are the first generation in their families to move to the city, and they didn’t have any education at that time. Yet, her father relentlessly insisted on the children’s education. “ሴት : ልጅ : መማር : አለባት ።” was her father’s motto (A girl must mind her education). Amakelech says sometimes the siblings studied as an excuse to avoid house chores as it was understood education always came first.
Amakelech completed high school at Etege Menen / Yekatit 12. She then got her degree in pharmacy from Addis Ababa University Amist Kilo campus. Amakelech was lucky to get into pharmacy school as it was her dream from her childhood to join the health industry. She remembers going to a nurse who lived in their neighbourhood, continuously asking her questions, eager to learn about medicine.
Before starting her own pharmacy retail business in 1994, Amakelech served at numerous government health care centers. Exemplary entrepreneur for her commitment in the healthcare industry, Amakelech built her empire, Gishen Pharmacy to 60 institutional clients and large number of individual market bases. Gishen Pharmacy has earned its prominence as the first in Ethiopia to start a 24-hour and weekend services, earning the brand, “People come first.” Gishen Pharmacy continuously brings innovative ideas to make the industry better. The pharmacy publishes drug fact booklets and distributes for free to teach people about the medicines they are taking.
Amakelech enjoys interacting with people and being a solution to others. She said this is one of the reasons she enjoys working in a pharmacy business. To her, pharmacies are more than a place where one sells medicines; it’s a space where one can reach out to people, give advice and be a supporting friend, sister and more. She said through her pharmacy she has forged many long-lasting friendships that transcended to become family. She calls it community pharmacy. Gishen Pharmacy is known for its accessibility with multiple branches in the city, availability of medicines that are mostly difficult to find, and its knowledgeable staff.
Amakelech speaks a great deal of her father, her greatest role model. Ato Lulu, as Amakelech puts it, was a dynamic person, a responsible father, an empowering and motivating being and a community leader. He valued honesty and hard work, and most importantly he valued keeping his word. Amakelech gives unlimited credit for her strong character, ethics, values and success to her upbringing.
Responsible and hardworking, Amakelech takes pleasure in developing others. At barely age 10, she started working at her father’s tailor shop. Everyday after school, she would go to the shop and do easy work such as sewing buttons. She was also responsible for keeping the book and collected fees over the weekends. Due to their father’s imprisonment under the Derg Regime, the responsibility of the shop fell on her and her brother. She was only 12.
Amakelech believes a great leader is one who leads by example—walking the talk—and is accessible. She is actively engaged in capacitating her employees and is always available to consult, advise and develop them. She adopted Round Table Discussions from AWiB and uses it at the workplace to interact with her team. Through these RTDs Amakelech is able to reach out to her employees, learn about their problems and share advice and solutions from her vast experience and knowledge.
In addition to being a pharmacist and owner of a large pharmacy chain, Amakelech is a life coach. This is a path which she happened to join by chance, yet she finds this new endeavour to be very fulfilling and enriching. As a life coach Amakelech helps many lost souls navigate through their inner potential and find their purpose in life. She mentors and coaches university students, her employees and many more that come her way. She says, “Our mothers, back then, never told us about the world out there. We were left to explore and deal with it as is on our own and I don’t want this to be the case for others. I share my experience with the young so they can be better prepared.”
Amakalech’s biggest success in life, she believes, is she is herself and lives her truth. Her purpose in life is contributing to greater goods of society and leaving a monumental legacy—the impetus to withstand the challenges life throws at her. To counteract the effects of daily stress, she meditates and continuously practices breathing exercises. These practices, she says, keep her focused and let her have a clear mind.
Amakelech is a lifelong learner and an avid reader. She enjoys hiking, exercising and stimulating conversations with equally inspiring individuals during her leisure times.
To the very young generation, Amakelech’s insists to take time off the electronic gadgets and spend time on activities that engage physically and mentally. She advises young families to give children the gifts of time and attention, and for the older generation to give time to mentor and guide the young generation to build their characters overall, taking responsibility and being part of the solution. Her message to women is to take responsibility for their action and play no blame game to succeed in their lives, to ask questions, and forgo assumptions in our communications. These practices bring a sense of belonging and the understanding that you are not the only one going through certain experiences.
Amakelech is a proponent of AWiB’s effort of creating self-awareness among women. She hopes it reaches many more, sustaining the movement.
AWiB is grateful to Amakelech for her continued support, being part of the association’s FCBC and the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT), and weekend activities facilitator.
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