Ethiopian Youth Initiative: Nurturing the Culture of Giving Back

A guest post by Rediet Yibekal.


Giving Back Can Be So Much Fun, It is all about PERSPECTIVE! 

In Ethiopia we have an old culture of exchanging used clothes or shoes with household equipments or kitchenwares. We call this deal “Lewach,” which in Amharic means exchange. The dealers who knock people’s doors to do the exchange earn their living by selling those clothes or shoes that they collect after the transaction.

I used to ask why people prefer dealing with the “Bale Lewach” (the dealer) instead of giving their used clothes to the needy (this, however, is not to say there are no people who are kind enough to donate without any exchange). Nevertheless, most people prefer to save old clothes and pass them on to either the younger generation or the exchange dealers. The following may be the reasons why that happens: 1) It is a form of home-economics, i.e., people recycle their used clothes within the family or exchange them with the mentioned dealers in order to save money since they cannot afford to buy new materials; 2) they are just greedy, or, they may only want to donate to make some kind of social statement.

Today a different kind of giving culture is growing. And I was compelled to write this article because I was inspired by my close friends who are organizing a used-clothes-donation-event in Addis Ababa, that will take place on May 12, 2013. The organizers are Hiwot Wendimagegn, Liya Haile, Dawit Teferra, Amare, Ermias and others. They are currently  collecting used clothes from people all over Addis Ababa, which they will donate to the homeless and others who are in need. The purpose of this event is doing good for goodness sake. Hiwot (one of the main organizers) strongly advocates the essence of doing good for no reason, but altruism. She says “one should do good not because one is part of a certain religion or NGO, but because we care and see the less fortunate among us as our own brothers and sisters.”

This kind of thinking should be embraced by all. It will give us a common platform to bring change within our communities. We can indeed be our best solution to the problems we face in our everyday lives.

I remember the good times I spent as a student at Addis Ababa University (6 Kilo Branch). My good friends who are mentioned above Hiwot, Lea, Dalaya and I first initiated a community-service-focused student organization within our own campus. We started discussing the social problems and then we decided to come together and find solution to the problems. We took small steps instead of sitting down, doing nothing and complaining. We had ambitious goals, we achieved some of them, and that energized us to do more.

When young people come together and believe in giving back to their communities, with no strings attached, great things happen. Imagine those people who are brainstorming to bring solutions to this world at this moment. Think of the synergy when teamwork flourishes, standing for common goal, being a tool for a good cause; think of the same language spoken in the simple act of kindness. Ask yourself what you have contributed to your family, community, or country and then you will realize the full picture.

I believe one kind action can lead to another. One good call can bring people together and speak the same language besides individual differences. This event can be one good example. Through Facebook and personal contacts, people from every corner of Addis Ababa, even from Washington DC, are donating their used clothes as I am writing this article.

If you want to be part of this event before May 12, please follow this link to join the Facebook group: From us to us by us.

The following is the call for this event written in Amharic on the above Facebook Page:

በእዚህ የዝናብ እና የብርድ ወቅት ቢበርዳቸው እንኳ የሚደርቡት የሌላቸው በብጣሽ ቲሸርት፣ በቀዳዳ ሱሪ፣ በብጥስጣሽ ቀሚስ፣ ያለምንም መጠለያ፣ ጎዳና ላይ የሚኖሩ ወገኖቻችን ብዙ ናቸው። ይህንንም እሳቤ በማድረግ በመጪው ግንቦት አራት 2005 ዓ.ም፣ ያለንን ለሌለው እናካፍል በማለት፣ አዲስ አበባን እየዞርን ትርፍ ልብሶቻችንን ጎዳና ላይ ለሚኖሩ ወገኖቻችን ስናድል የምንውልበት ቀን ሆኖ ይውላል። ይሄን ማድረግ ከቻልን ከምንሰጠው ጨርቅ በበለጠ፣ ለበጎ አላማ መተባበርን፣ እርስ በእርስ መተሳሰብን፣ የወገን ፍቅርን፣ ችግሮቻችንን ለመፍታት እርምጃ መውሰድን፣ ማውራት ብቻ ሳይሆን ሆኖ መገኘትን…ወዘተ እንማርበታለን። የአንድ ሺህ ማይል ጉዞ በአንድ እርምጃ ይጀመራል እንደሚባለው በእንደዚህ አይነት ትንሸ ነገር የተጀመረ እንቅስቃሴ ታላላቅ ነገሮችን ለማድረግ መንገድ ይከፍታል። በቀኑ መገኘት ለማትችሉ ግን ልብስ በመስጠት ለመርዳት ዝግጁ ለሆናችሁ ጓደኞቻችን በሙሉ ደግሞ በ 0913 617729 ወይም በ 0932 295235 በመደወል ብታሳውቁን ያላችሁበት መጥተን የምትሰጡንን ለመቀበል ዝግጁ ነን።

ከማውራት አልፈን፣ ቁምነገር ስንሠራ ብንውልስ?

ሰሞኑን ሀይለኛ ዝናብ ሲጥል አልጋዬ ላይ የተነጠፈው ብርድልብስ አልበቃ ብሎኝ ጋቢ እየደረብኩ ስተኛ፣ በብጣሽ ቲሸርት፣ በቀዳዳ ሱሪ፣ በብጥስጣሽ ቀሚስ ብርዱን እና ዝናቡን ያለምንም መጠለያ ጎዳና ላይ የሚያሳልፉትን ሰዎች አስብ እና እንባ እንባ ይለኛል። “እንዴት ቻሉት” ብዬ እራሴን እጠይቃለሁ። ከዛ ሳስበው፣ አንድ ቀን እንኳ ያልተለበሰ ቁምሳጥን ሲያሞቅ የሚኖር ልብስ አይጠፋም፣ ለምን አውጥቼ ልብስ ለሌለው አልሰጠውም፣ ሌላው ቢቀር ብርድ ያቀላል አልኩኝ። አርቄ ሳስብ ደግሞ፣ ጓደኞቼን አሰባስቤ ባደርገው በዛ ላለ ሰው ይደርሳል፣ እኛም ለበጎ አላማ ያለማንም ድጋፍ መሰባሰብን እንለምድበታለን የሚል ሀሳብ መጣልኝ።

ታድያ የፌስ ቡክ ወዳጆቼ አንድ እሁድ ተገናኝተን አዲስ አበባን እየዞርን ትርፍ ልብሶቻችንን ጎዳና ላይ ለሚኖሩ ወገኖቻችን ስናድል ብንውል ምን ይመስላችኋል? ይሄን ማድረግ ከቻልን ከምንሰጠው ጨርቅ በበለጠ፣ ለበጎ አላማ መተባበርን፣ እርስ በእርስ መተሳሰብን፣ የወገን ፍቅርን፣ ችግሮቻችንን ለመፍታት እርምጃ መውሰድን፣ ማውራት ብቻ ሳይሆን ሆኖ መገኘትን…ወዘተ እንማርበታለን። የአንድ ሺህ ማይል ጉዞ በአንድ እርምጃ ይጀመራል እንደሚባለው በእንደዚህ አይነት ትንሸ ነገር የተጀመረ እንቅስቃሴ ታላላቅ ነገሮችን ለማድረግ መንገድ ይከፍታል።

በሀሳቡ የምትስማሙ እና ለመሳተፍ የምትፈልጉ ፍቃደኝነታችሁን ብታሳውቁኝ እና የተሳታፊ ቁጥር ብዛት ሲታወቅ፣ ለስራችን ስኬታማነት በተዋቀሩ በ መሳይ ሰለሞን ፣ በ ሊያ ሀይሌ ፣ በ ዳዊት ተፈራ ፣ እና በ ህይወት ወንድማገኝ በሚመሩ አራት ቡድኖች ተከፋፋለን ከሁለት ሳምንት በኋላ (ግንቦት አራት) ቀን ቁምነገር ስነሰራ ብንውልስ?




  • This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. ― Dalai Lama
  • I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do. ― Helen Keller
  • Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. ― Scott Adams

Community Service:

  • “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”  ― Mother Teresa
  • “Heroes didn’t leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn’t wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else’s. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back.”  ― Jodi Picoult, Second Glance


  • “Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie Stepanek
  • Dir Biyabir Anbesa Yasir, When Spider Webs Unite, They Can Tie Up a Lion ― Ethiopian Proverb

3 thoughts on “Ethiopian Youth Initiative: Nurturing the Culture of Giving Back


    1. Thanks for your comment, Tilaye. But as for your concern, you can connect with the organizers via either FB or the phone #s included in the article to make sure they are not “cheating.” More, if you live in Addis, you can meet them in person and join their mission. Cheers,

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