A concert was held to benefit the building of a school in Tembien, Ethiopia. The school will provide education, food, beds, and uniforms for 2,500 orphan children.
The H.A.P.P.Y. team seeks
funds for building schools for impoverished and orphan
students, educational supplies, drilling wells, medical
equipment and used ambulances for Ethiopia. We also want
to raise your awareness of the human crisis that almost
84,000,000 rural residents, 44% under the age of 14,
suffer in their daily lives. Ethiopia has numerous orphans. 66% of the drinking water is polluted and often 10-12 miles from their homes. Rural healthcare is very substandard.
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The greatest public works project in Africa will reach a critical
stage this year. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, on the Blue Nile,
is more than halfway complete. This year, the first diversions of flow
of the Blue Nile will begin.
Eventually, the Blue Nile will be stopped sufficiently to fill up the
reservoir behind the dam.
This diversion of water, though small this year, has already become a
flashpoint in the politics of Africa. If the diversion issue is handled
correctly, however, the dam will propel Ethiopia from the ranks of
underdeveloped countries through the kind of rural electrification
America experienced in the 1920s.
The Nile has two components: the White Nile, which starts in Lake
Victoria, bordering Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, and the Blue Nile,
which starts in Ethiopia, winding from Lake Tana through gorges,
descending in altitude until it flows into Sudan.
The White Nile meets the Blue Nile in Khartoum, Sudan, from which it
proceeds north to the Egyptian border. After entering Egypt, the Nile
encounters the Aswan High Dam, creating an expansive reservoir, Lake
Nassar. That reservoir permits regulation of the release of water to
irrigate farmland alongside the course of the Nile throughout Egypt,
ending the annual floods that had overflowed the Nile’s banks for
thousands of years.
The dam is the realization of the most profound national aspiration
of Ethiopia. It was never an international project. The World Bank
refused to fund it, because Egypt insists on no diminution of the water
it receives from the Nile; and the U.S., Egypt’s friend, exercises a
veto at the World Bank.
So the Ethiopians taxed themselves, solicited loans from more than
half of their population voluntarily tithing every year and obtained
help from the Chinese. It is now a symbol of Ethiopia’s move into the
ranks of the developed world; national pride is running high as its
In equal measure, national pride and sensitivity runs high in Egypt.
Egypt and Sudan claim 100 percent of the right to the waters of the
Nile, based on historic use, and a 1959 treaty co-authored by those
countries and Britain, which was purportedly acting on behalf of its
soon-to-be former colonies: Uganda, Kenya, and Tanganikya (today’s
Tanzania). Britain had liberated Ethiopia from Mussolini’s Italy in
World War II, and stayed in administrative control of major parts of the
Ethiopian government for ten years thereafter. Britain’s disregard for
Ethiopia’s interest in declaring that Ethiopia would be prevented from
diverting Nile water reflected those lingering colonial attitudes, much
resented in Ethiopia.
So, Egypt’s resistance to the dam is a mirror to Ethiopia’s
enthusiasm for the dam. Egypt’s position reminds Ethiopians of Britain’s
colonial disdain. Tensions are made even higher by a worrisome rise in
religious tension. Egypt, especially under the short-lived rule of
Mohamed Morsi, emphasized that 2/3 of Ethiopians are Christian, in
contrast with Muslim Egypt. Egypt’s current leader, Abdel Fattah
el-Sisi, overthrew Morsi and banned his Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated
political party, but the Christian-Muslim contrast is ever present and
available for political exploitation.
Traditionally, Sudan has sided with Egypt in regard to anything
touching the Nile. The 1959 agreement gave 5/6 of the water to Egypt,
1/6 to Sudan. That was more than Sudan was capable of using at its then
level of development. The Ethiopian dam changes Sudan’s interests in two
important respects. First, unlike Aswan, this dam is upstream from
Sudan; meaning it can be used to control the flow of water into Sudan
that today overflows the banks of the Blue Nile during the flood time;
creating a more steady and reliable flow conducive to greater
agricultural production in Sudan. Second, the dam will produce more
electricity than Ethiopia can use, with Sudan as the likely purchaser of
the excess. Sudan is coming around to the Ethiopian side of the dam
issue; and this works strongly against any Egyptian effort to revive the
Morsi-era language that the dam is a Christian construct to hurt Muslim
To avoid an international crisis, Egypt also must be brought around.
The key is that the dam is for hydropower, not for irrigation, as its
location at the lowest elevation in Ethiopia demonstrates. Once its
reservoir is filled, therefore, water flow will resume undiminished to
Egypt. Gradual filling of the reservoir, and coordination with Egypt’s
Lake Nasser water releases, can mitigate even this temporary effect on
Egypt. Ethiopia should give that assurance in a binding commitment, and
a potential crisis can be turned into a blessing for millions.
Tom Campbell is a professor at the Fowler School of Law and the
Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University. As a
Member of Congress, he served on the Africa Subcommittee of the House
International Relations Committee. These views are his own.
Jim Doti: Chapman honoree inspires by giving
back to Ethiopia By JIM DOTI / CHAPMAN UNIVERSITY
It isn’t often that I need to step in when an award recipient becomes so emotional he or she can’t continue to speak. And it really isn’t often at all that, as I read the speech in that person’s stead, I become pretty emotional, too. But that happened recently in front of an audience of Chapman staff members as I presented the university’s highest honor, the Presidential Medal, to Tilahun “Michael” Belay, one of our public safety officers.
Michael, you see, is an exceptional human being. As a young man, he escaped from his war-torn home country, Ethiopia, by walking out, hundreds of miles through dry lands and jungles. He had grown up in the small town of Tembien, battered by war and disease – and the tragedies his family suffered kept mounting, culminating in his father’s slaying by insurgents and his pregnant sister’s death on the road as she tried to walk to a hospital miles away.
Clearly, there was no future for Michael in Ethiopia – so he left it behind, at great personal risk. And eventually – like so many waves of immigrants in our history, fleeing prejudice, pogroms, injustice, unfathomable hardships for the promise of a better life – he made his way to the United States.
Here, he got married, started a family of his own and began work at Chapman as the community services officer for our public safety team. Michael’s has been a very familiar, friendly face to our Chapman community for many years now. Even when he gives you a parking ticket for some campus infraction (of course that never happens to me), you can’t help but be captivated by his outgoing demeanor and contagious smile.
Looking at him, you would never guess the depths of sorrow that must be there – or the sheer determination and courage that exist within this man.
Because Michael returned for a visit to Ethiopia – traveling to his old hometown in 2000, for the first time in 30 years – and saw that things had not improved. In fact, it all seemed worse than ever. By then, Africa’s AIDS epidemic had spread, and the streets of Tembien were full of homeless orphans. There was no infrastructure to help or house them.
Like many people in the town, the orphans were getting their water from the polluted river, and waterborne diseases were rife, leading to many more deaths. Drought and famine were always looming specters.
But among the varied woes of the impoverished town, the faces of the orphan children stayed with him. What could be done to help get them off the streets and provide them with some hope for the future?
Build a school, he thought. Education is the key. He used his own money to build the first Tilahun Belay School in Tembien, a simple mud hut at first, but a place of safety, four walls and learning for the children.
Michael Belay is not a wealthy man. At the time, he didn’t know any wealthy people and had no idea how to start a fundraising campaign. He wrote letters to Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, even Queen Elizabeth II, asking for their help, but received no answers.
He finally decided to do the only thing he could think of to raise funds: He sold his one major financial asset, his family’s three-bedroom house in Corona. With the help of colleagues here at Chapman, he founded the nonprofit Hands Across the Planet to Poor Youth (H.A.P.P.Y.) and used the money from the house sale to fund a bigger and better school in Tembien.
When word of the man who sold his home to build a school in Ethiopia hit the media, other philanthropists came forward. Our own Chapman trustees Paul Musco and Roger Hobbs pitched in, as well as our close Chapman friend Larry Bridges – and suddenly Tembien had not one but two ambulances as well as crates of school supplies. Chapman University donated computers and other supplies.
More recently, Michael dipped into his own assets again, refinancing his car so he could buy uniforms and more supplies for the school.
“It’s an ongoing need,” he told me. “If I cannot raise enough money, what can I do but use my own?”
The school is now in need of refurbishment and expansion, and the more pressing need is for pure water for the school and the town. A water purification system can cost several million dollars, but Michael is confident that the money can be raised. When you look at his face and see the hope there, you believe it, too.
So Michael Belay is the newest recipient of the Presidential Medal – in this case, for distinguished contributions to humanity. In his dedication to a life of service, Michael exemplifies the spirit of Albert Schweitzer, the 20th-century humanitarian icon who we think of as the “guiding spirit” of Chapman University. A Schweitzer saying displayed on our campus states, "Search and see whether there is not some place where you may invest your humanity."
We are honored to recognize the noble and passionate humanitarianism of one of Chapman’s own: Michael Belay.
For more information and to support Hands Across the Planet to Poor Youth, visit happyinethiopia.org (no “www”) or the Hands Across the Planet to Poor Youth
We just returned
from the U.S. - Ethiopia Business and Investment
Summit attended by over 600 Americans, Canadians and
visiting Ethiopian leaders in Los Angeles, CA on
August 1, 2014.
Everyone was enthusiastic with Ethiopia's leadership delegation led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD. The great results lowering poverty, increasing education and bringing jobs into the nation are impressive.
Ethiopian leaders seemed humble, extremely dedicated and well informed. Our special sessions were superb. We had just enjoyed reading about the excellent accomplishments of the Gates Foundation in Ethiopia. Viewing charts and pictures of the new Ethiopia was impressive!! They are eager for business and growth.
Nigeria uses oil for growth but Ethiopia needs hard work for results. Many American businessmen talked about their current agricultural and manufacturing start up organizations with pride. Our Tom Campbell, a brilliant scholar, talked about the new dam and how it will benefit all nations around Ethiopia in addition to bringing water and electricity to Millions.
About 10-12 protesters met our car as we pulled into parking and minor damage was done to the car and driver....but the problem of uninformed or a few uneducated paid protesters made me listen even more intently to a day of positive presentations. Now, I want to invest in Ethiopia! It is the political and economic center of Africa and their citizens must be very proud.
Many thanks to Ambassador Zerihun Retta, Deputy Consul General Esayas Gotta Seifu and their entire team at the Ethiopian Embassy in Los Angeles for our invitation to share in their continuing achievements....a day to remember.
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A priest holds an umbrella at a rock-hewn church in
Lalibela. Picture: Stephen Scourfield
Of light and shade in
Travel Editor The West Australian
March 28, 2014, 3:46 pm
It's Sunday and people are
out with their umbrellas. Through the wide, golden
landscape of northern Ethiopia, terraced from
countless generations of touch by human hand, they
walk to the nearest town and to the nearest church.
For some it might just be a big black
umbrella or a silver one to keep off sun that is
strong at this altitude of more than 2000m. One can
see the practical side of the umbrella here, of