Shewaye Tike: Giving Hope to the Hopeless

Shewaye was born in Tigray region Adwa town.  She attended her primary and secondary education in Adwa and went to Asmara Teachers Training College and started her career in Tigray region, rural area as a teacher.   After serving as a teacher for some years, Shewaye studied Social Work in India.

In year 2001, Shewaye joined the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a humanitarian organization providing basic services to refugees and internally displaced persons around the globe, as Education Manager in a newly opened refugee camp for Eritrean refugees.   Shewaye was one of the first program personnel during the emerging days of IRC programs in Ethiopia.  At that time, IRC had small seed funding to begin an education program for Eritrean children sheltered in remote refugee camp located 70 km from the border to Eritrea.  Shewaye was asked to live and work in extremely harsh physical conditions with minimal supervision and guidance.  IRC, the government counterpart and the UN agencies had no women staff based in the area, leaving her virtually alone in a male-dominated social and occupational setting. Within weeks, the education program managed to have a temporary school built with tents, teachers trained, classroom equipped and children learning for the first time in two years. Through time, the school progressed from primary education to secondary education inside the refugee camp providing education access to all refugee community for free.   Shewaye worked tirelessly on the curriculum by taking both the Ethiopian and home country context. She also liaised with regional education bureau to train teachers in the certified Ethiopian Teachers Training Center and to enable refugee students sat for Ethiopian National Examination of 8th and 10th grade. The first batch of the students Shewaye educated in the first refugee camp have attended Universities in various part of Ethiopia and graduated with degrees.

Currently she lives in Addis Ababa working for the same organization as program coordinator for child protection, youth livelihoods and education programs.  Shewaye’s responsibilities include: overseeing and coordinating educational programs in various refugee camps and local communities, managing and providing guidance for program staff based in the field, traveling to the field to monitor programs and meeting beneficiaries.   She also supports in writing proposal for funding and reports to donor.

Shewaye has dedicated her entire life in serving the community and the needy by working for a humanitarian organization for the past 15 years. Shewaye had a number of achievements to site some of the major ones:

  • Under her leadership, the program has grown immensely both in terms of refugee camps and the number of projects in local communities.  The education program involves building class rooms, hiring and training teachers, ensuring the quality of education and continuity of funding to run all the education programs.   The child protection program focuses at ensuring child rights are protected among implementing agencies in the refugee camps.   She advocates for the rights of children and helped thousands of refugee children have safe and protective environments working with parents/caregivers, community based associations and service providers. The youth and livelihoods program involves providing business and life skills training for the youth followed by supporting them to start up their own small business in the refugee camp, facilitating peer learning groups among the youth to discuss on various issues, establishment of libraries and coordinating the youth to work as a volunteer and support vulnerable people in the camp.   Currently the program Shewaye is leading serves around 170,607 refugees in six different refugee camps.    Shewaye oversees and supports over 60 staff implementing a wide range of educational programs, child protection, and youth & livelihoods programs.   She has mentored and coached many IRC staff building their capacity and enabled them to move to higher level positions both in the IRC and other international organizations.
  • Shewaye is the only employee who won the Sarlo Foundation distinguished humanitarian services award from Ethiopia even though 2 nominees per year have been presented for this prestigious award in the past 14 years.    The award was established at the International Rescue Committee in 2001 by a generous grant from the Sarlo Family Supporting Foundation. The award honors IRC field workers, three from its overseas operations and two from its domestic resettlement across the United States every year.  The award is given to members of IRC staff with extraordinary dedication, sacrifice and achievement in serving refugees, the displaced and other victims of the oppression.
  • Shewaye runs “Girls Empowerment Program” in SNNPR targeting from 10-14 years– critical age in life.    She believes that if girls are supported and become aware of life challenges at an early age they will be successful in life.  The program involves discussions on many useful life skills, identify problems, building their confidence and self-esteem.  It also has a component building social assets in the community and mentorship in areas where the girls need support.

Shewaye is very grateful to God for giving her the health, the strength and capacity to be what she is today. She is also grateful to God for giving her a family that is caring and particularly her uncle who is her inspiration and a role model.

Through her life time, Shewaye learned that courage and internal strength enables to achieve what you want. She believes that everyone has a capacity and can become whatever they aspire to be but it requires one to know the capacity s/he has and work hard to excel in that area. Things at times might be challenging and full of obstacles but she says her advice is to see one’s destination without losing hope no matter how difficult the circumstances might be.

AWiB applauds Shewaye’s courage to touch and change the lives of those who otherwise could have been forgotten.

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