Journey to Freedom: The case of Eyerusalem Gedlu

Enlightened leadership is spiritual if we understand spirituality not as some kind of religious dogma or ideology but as the domain of awareness where we experience values like truth, goodness, beauty, love and compassion, and also intuition, creativity, insight and focused attention”.  ~Deepak Chopra~

Eyerusalem says she learned compassion from her grandmother and wisdom from her grandfather. She was born in Addis Abeba in 1961 and grew up in chaotic Ethiopia during the Red Terror that left an indelible mark in her generation. She left for the States after losing both her maternal grandparents who raised and nurtured her from very young.

Today Eyeru, as she is known, is back to her roots and claiming her identity but to reach to this point she says was a rough road…”to search for your identity however important must come to you and stir you to the point where you cannot sleep it off”.

Speaking to this Gem at her estate where she grew up and turned into business is a rare treat. She is generous beyond words, compassionate and truly living her spirituality. She says she is spiritual and is guided by the higher sense every waking hour of her life.

Searching for Identity is what drives her ambition Eyeru claims. “Seeking for a sense of Identity helped me go back to my roots and build a legend that I could cherish the memory of my grandparents, the memory of a lovely childhood that gave me cushion to protect me during hard times and gave me a solid foundation for the person I became; whatever seed was planted in me, my grandparents must be watching from wherever and take delight in my development, because everything they taught me, I have become it…

As a curious child to know what’s going on in her household, she never ventured too far off from her grandfather’s daily task—dealing and wheeling government, business and community affairs. She was exposed to giving life or losing it at an early age. The compound she grew up was big and full of people. So she knew every birthdays and anniversaries of those who lived at the time. She felt responsible for this gift she was given, a life full of love, respect and compassion; she never forgot who supported and nurtured her in life. She helped from far as a student and later as a business woman in the USA and coming back she still takes care of the children and grandchildren of those who raised her–the many employees of her grandparents who have become her family. Her household today reaches close to 70. She has left part of the property for them to live on and helps out in any way she can. She says this is her commitment to her community and doing it as best as she could. To keep the rituals, Eyeru, twice a year, on Ghenna and Easter, wears her grandfather’s traditional outfit and gives a lavish feast to family friends and the residents of the compound that only happened in those days with such family of higher stature. It is mesmerizing to see this woman turning back the hands of time and going so serious about it.

Eyerusalem went to Sunny College in Brockport, NY and earned a BS in Education. She taught school KG-3rd grade for ten years and left her career to venture in restaurant business. She owned a small café and did everything that a restaurant business required.

In her youth, the story she left home caught up and she says it was a time of confusion. As any young person, she didn’t know what she wanted and lived life unconsciously. During this time, she lost a child (still born) and that she says was a turning point. She started looking for meaning in life, for a purpose that would guide her to a fulfilling life. She found meditation and stillness which she claims has helped her find her true self and be comfortable with whatever she found there. She took a year off to travel, to contemplate where her passion laid and what truly was meaningful to her.  This travel brought her back to her homeland and she toured different parts of Ethiopia where she discovered its natural beauty and fell in love with the culture and its people.

During her travel she wanted to find out what her contribution would be in making a difference in others. She found that she wanted to be a bridge for her family as she values family and friendship. This time off helped her to find her passion that she never understood when people talked about passion, and decided to leave her adopted land—USA—that she never thought she would and started the legend behind Abbaba’s villa. Eyeru says first and for most Abbaba’s villa was create as a manifestation of love to my family, friends and acquaintances. She wants everyone who would explore this magnificent villa to think of their own Abbabas and the love fathers gave us as well.

So what’s Eyeru’s business and what’s Abbaba’s Villa?

Everyone who visits Abbaba’s Villa talks about the exquisite beauty of this guest house, but Abbaba’s villa is more than a guest house. This old and elegant mansion is an urban oasis that gives one a sense of an exclusive resort in a lush green.

Eyeru is an avid collector of antiques and arts. The mansion has great collection of Ethiopian arts and artifacts that tells a great history of the original owner, Eyeru’s grandfather, and how his life intertwined with Ethiopia’s great history which gives one a good footing on the Ethiopian Culture.

The rooms are spacious with high ceilings, clean and very comfortable. The breakfasts are extraordinary: fresh fruit from the local organic garden, a variety of authentic local menu, fresh milk every day for making coffee and tea at the guests’ disposal.  Fantastic local and international cuisine for dinner awaits one if they desire so. The friendly and approachable staff also makes the travelers feel that they are a guest in someone’s lovely old mansion. Most guests are repeated clients coming again and again.

Nestled among old growth evergreen trees and dazzling array of flowers and shrubbery, Abbaba’s villa starts soothing you from the minute you entered its acres-wide verdant compound.

For local adventurers, this Villa offers much more. One can have a wedding, anniversary, a birthday for that special person. Valentine dinners can be arranged with meticulous detail to make one feel special in old palaces that we might find in old parts of Europe.

Abbaba’s Villa is also ideal place for retreats, conferences and for that celebration parties for especial and loyal employees of your company. It is a safe haven for those who want their solitude extended.  You get more information about this exquisite place at

What Eyeru says her greatest accomplishment is the life she is experiencing and getting paid for something that she loves to do…to make others feel happy and welcome; to create this place as a refuge for many; a place for family members to come and learn about their ancestries, for friends to come and relax and for guests or international travelers to find authentic traveling experiences.

What are you most grateful in life?

To be able to live a life that I never knew I had but once I found it was what I wanted all along.  That is a blessing she says she never takes for granted.

What have you learned over your lifetime that you’d like to share with the younger generation?

To find their passion early on and go for it; to live a purposeful life, to be themselves and not to change anything to please others and to work hard to be independent economically and emotionally. To go to others because you want to but not you need to.

Eyerusalem is one of the founding members of AWiB and has opened her door many times when AWiB needed a refuge. She supports the AWiB movement and had served within the leadership.

AWiB would like to express our appreciation to one of our Gems and wish her the best in her future endeavor.

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