Having a heart to heart conversation with the beautiful and passionate Hana Bekele warmed my heart and challenged me. This young lady is taking Ethiopia by storm and disrupting the status quo.
I was eight years old when I lost my sight. It was frustrating for me and mostly for my family and neighbors because I was the first one in the community to become blind.
It was extremely depressing because no one knew how to handle me. The school and teachers were not well equipped to handle my case.
As the top student, the teachers were constantly on the look out for other schools or opportunities that could help me become better.
I joined Addis Ababa university to study Law but unfortunately had to drop out one year to graduation because my grades were very low mostly because of inaccessibility.
My overly excited community back at home did not help either. They expected me to graduate with honors and constantly put me at a pedestal telling me to make them proud. [laughs]
I joined Kotebe Teachers College with the support of a few friends to pursue a diploma in English and a computer training by a local NGO.
I did very well that the NGO employed me to train the visually impaired. I pursued my diploma on part time and managed to get a distinction. I joined the University of Addis Ababa again to study a BA in Sociology and graduated in 2015.
While still pursuing my degree, I got an opportunity to take on the position of General Manager of the Ethiopian National Disability Action Network, an NGO which works to create a united voice for the disabled.
In 2015, I was selected in the highly competitive Mandela Washington Fellowship and the YALI Regional Center E.A in the Civic leadership track. This changed my life.
I volunteer with the Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association as the vice president of the board, the Equal Opportunity Association for Women with Disabilities living with HIV as the vice chairperson and FYNOTE Rehab of Women with Disability Association as the chairperson of the general assembly.
My work involves designing, planning and overseeing projects, and resource mobilization. I am very passionate about women.
I know that being a woman can have its own challenges in the work place and especially for a woman living with disability.
That is why I must empower them. We have reached over 5,000 people through our initiatives.
I am currently pursuing my Masters in Social work at Addis Ababa University which I do on part time basis. I am committed to serve my community.
What is your potential. How can you improve yourself. Can you commit to involve other people and execute on viable solutions for problems in your community that can help others? Then stop dreaming, talking and just do it!
My vision in the next ten years is to see Persons With Disabilities in Africa getting equal opportunities. I intend to establish my own organization focusing on women with disabilities.
Hana loves to spend time with her loved ones and watching movies during her free time. She also loves eating the Ethiopian super foods Injera and dorowat (which I adore by the way) .
We wish you the very best Hana Bekele, keep influencing those lives and soaring like the eagle you are.
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Helen Keller.