Seeds of Africa is thrilled to introduce our new Head of Community Development for our Ethiopia Campus, Emebet Aklilu Mengistu. Emebet is the first female to hold this position, so we sat down with this #GirlBoss to learn a bit more about her, and what she plans on bringing to the SOA campus.
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I was born and grew up in Adama, Ethiopia.
Q: Do you have children of your own? If so, how many?
A: Yes! I have a four year old daughter.
Q: What is it like to be the first female in this position?
A: It is a great life experience to be in a position where I have the authority to lead and supervise my fellow staff. I am using my power to enable and motivate the employees so they can achieve their best performance and the overall organizational plan (to provide the best quality education for the Seeds of Africa students and to empower their parents to bring them out of poverty for a better condition of life.) To put it in one expression, I am lucky and happy to be a the Head of Community Development for Seeds of Africa.
Q: As a woman, what unique insight will you bring to this position?
A: A woman is a mother, a sister and a daughter. She is part and parcel of the entire society. She can contribute a lot to society if she is considered indespensible. It is common for her to stay home and manage only the household chores and to take care of her husband. It is silly to think that one who can do all of these tasks, is unable to lead a country. This position tells everyone that I, as a woman, can do as much as a man can. Even better, living in a man’s world challenges the success of a woman but breaking through the challenges shows to the world that I can be a leader. So, I feel that, if women are supported, we can create a miracle, and do something valuable for the world.
Q: What inspires you about the Seeds of Africa students the most?
A: What inspired me most about our students is their communicative behavior, English language competency and well mannered conduct. In my first few weeks I deliberately spoke to them in English. They are active to respond as correctly and fluently as possible. When I was teaching English in other private schools, the students had a much harder time than the SOA students in terms of their English language speaking ability. The other thing that I love about them is how caring they are to each of their teachers and staff. They kiss, smile and show affection to all of the us during break time and before our morning flag ceremony. I believe that the organization has put their maximum effort into enabling them to be the best students. I appreciate that as well.
Q: What do you plan on changing or making more effective during your time as the Head of Community Development?
A: I am exhaustively working on the community development two year project, in collaboration with Bereket, Zena and Abel. We have been identifying the mothers who need training and loans by preparing letters of request and interviewing to see if they want to join in the plan. In fact, they are all interested in joining the loan program. As a plan, I was able to include the following activities in the project. We will conduct gender training for all mothers and fathers. We will facilitate market linkage with different institutions for mothers who are engaged in personal businesses, and conduct project launch and closeout workshops for all of our stakeholders.
Q: What’s the best experience you’ve had so far?
A: The best experience that I’ve had so far is developing a working environment for our organizational goals with the entire team. Every staff member is doing their part by themselves and in collaboration with others.
Q: When you were a little girl, what was your dream job?
A: When I was little, I wanted to be a journalist. I remember I used to improvise and act like I was a news anchor woman to my family. When I was assigned to a teaching profession, I started to really enjoy teaching too. As a secondary dream, I wanted to participate in community related and humanitarian activities. Especially as I was doing my masters in sociology and social work, I became more interested in the humanitarian aspect. So, this position is my adult dream job.
Q: If she could tell the students any words of encouragement or inspiration for their future, what would it be?
A: I would say: Always try to work to your fullest potential. I see people take life easy and lack gut, but fail eventually. They prefer to stay lazy and don’t use their greatest potential to create a miracle. The human mind is capable of doing anything if it is utilized to the maximum. The other thing would be to tell the students to be courageous, strong, determined and kind. If they have these qualities, life will be less challenging for them in the future.
Q: Anything you want to add?
A: This is is one of the few NGOs that is dedicated to children as well as their parents. It should really be appreciated because one can’t only educate the children without considering their family. It is just like killing two birds with one stone and is really productive and constructive. How fortunate I am to be part of this organization!