Seventeen years ago, in a casual discussion with group of friends about our country and our people, we discovered that we were all aching to help but did not know how to do it or where to begin. We all have tried to help here and there with no big result. So on this day, we decided to form a group and try to make a difference in the lives of others. The goal was to change the life of one person at a time, which brought about our slogan, “One Child at A Time”.
The Wegene Ethiopian Foundation (WEF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and non-governmental organization that has been serving the impoverished communities of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for over the last 17 years. The founding board directors have played a significant role in mobilizing Ethiopians in the Diaspora to give back to their original homeland, using the resources in their newfound homeland, the United States. Our Wegene founders, Ethiopians who now reside in the U.S., have achieved their success through education. The importance of education inspired this group of friends to establish the Wegene Ethiopian Foundation.
The word “Wegene” in Amharic (Ethiopia’s official language) means “empowering my community or my people.” Wegene is a grassroots, community based organization designed to sponsor and support Ethiopian families in their home setting. Wegene is unique in that it supports impoverished families via the local people – possibly neighbors, friends, and others who are a part of the community.
To date, 53 families have been supported by Wegene, of which 18 have become self-sufficient within three to five years after being accepted in our program. We are currently sponsoring over 150 academic scholarships for the children in our sponsored families.